Seeking out a family car is much simpler in theory than it is in reality. While many people can buy a car for themselves with little more concern than how well it drives and various fun features, a family car is another matter entirely.

An individual can risk their own safety by buying a car privately, with only the owner’s promise that it runs well to certify that it is actually safe to drive. A parent seeking a family car must consider the welfare of the entire family. Furthermore, a family car often needs to be more durable than, say, a sports car bought for joy rides, to withstand the kind of messes children can make within the vehicle.

A family car often has to undergo more wear and tear on the road as well, compared to a car merely used for commutes and the occasional trips out. A family car is responsible for transporting children to and from school, sports practices, their friends’ houses. Someday, it may be used to teach teenagers how to drive. That is, if it survives to that point in time, which is only guaranteed if the buyer invests in a car that will endure the literal long haul.

There are so many options thrown in a buyer’s face as they seek out a car to drive that the search can easily become overwhelming. Is it better to buy a new car or a used car? Should they buy from a dealership, or seek out a cheap car online? All of these factors must be taken into consideration when searching for a good family car.

Cars can ensure a family’s long-term safety, or it can lead them off the road quite literally. Remember that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the third-leading cause of death in Colorado is accidents, making the choice of family car more important than many realize. With that being said, there are a few things to seek out in a family car that make the search a bit simpler.

1. Space

While it might be tempting to seek out a car that is sleek and aesthetically pleasing above all else, the fact is that a family car needs to be practical. It’s certainly not practical or easy to attempt to fit an entire family into a four-seat sedan, and when children are young they need space to play with their toys and occupy themselves on longer car rides. When they’re older, they’ll conversely need room to stretch their legs. This is why it’s so common to see minivans favored among families.

While this might at first be displeasing to some who just planning to have children, or about to have their first children, minivans have come a long way in recent years. They’re much easier to maneuver and less heavy than they once were, and their space makes them easy to clean as well, giving parents space to vacuum and wipe down smooth surfaces. Alternatives may include the bigger SUVs that many parents are fond of, but this can come into conflict with another issue families must consider when seeking out a car.

2. Good Gas Mileage

Good gas mileage is vital for a family car, for a number of different reasons. For one thing, a car that has good gas mileage is simply cheaper in the long term. Even if it costs more upfront, a car that has great gas mileage often saves a family money overall. As parents inevitably end up spending a lot on their kids, they’re often relieved to know that the cars they’re driving are more affordable.

While the adage typically indicates that the bigger the car, the less efficient it is in terms of gas mileage, minivans and some SUVs often do offer surprisingly good mileage rates. It’s simply important to ask the car salesman questions about this outright, which is why all buyers should take care to buy from dealerships, rather than private sellers.

3. Safety

Safety may seem to be something of a vague thing to consider when buying a family car. Of course, everyone wants a safe car, don’t they? All cars that hit the market are theoretically safe. None of them are meant to crash or fail on the road. However, some cars are most definitely safer than others.

This may be found in the tension of their brakes, how easy they are to drive, and other factors. Fortunately, buyers can look at certain guides to check up on the cars they are considering, and ensure that they are as safe as possible. The best guides to refer to are IIHS and NHSTA. These are crucial to any hunt for a family car.

4. Storage Space

Those buying family cars are either about to become parents, or already parents. Either way, they either know or are learning that storage space is incredibly important to parents, and a family car’s storage space is no exception. Family road trips or simply soccer practice may require that a parent packs up a lot of extra baggage in its trunk.

Therefore, it’s important that a family car has a spacious trunk, with some extra space throughout the car ideally. Furthermore, there are other storage aspects to consider well, like cupholders and even storage pockets on the backs of the car’s main seats. The need for storage space is typically why 15.5 million trucks are in use throughout the United States.

5. Kid-Friendly Extras

What are kid-friendly extras? While babies might not care much about the car they’re riding within, kids on long road trips or even kids that simply are hanging out throughout a ride will care about certain extra features. This is why many minivans and SUVs today feature television screens and DVD players installed within the car, to occupy children.

Some even feature additional USB ports, which allow kids with phones to charge their gadgets on long trips. This makes it easier for them to relax, and therefore makes it easier for the drivers to focus. Remember that a driver can spend an average of 17 hours per year searching for a parking space. If this is the case, at least that time won’t be spent with children complaining in the backseat.

Ultimately, it’s important to avoid getting overwhelmed on the hunt for a family car, and subsequently making an impulse purchase. This will result in all involved being satisfied with the car in question for years to come. A family car is essentially a part of the family itself, so everyone should like it!