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Buying a car for a growing family is a bit of a juggling act at times.

What will help me get around right now? What happens when I add another kid into the mix? Will it be roomy enough when kids one and two (or three!) grow into teenagers?

There are many aspects to balance such as room, safety, and cargo space. Here is a simple checklist to help you through the process.

Practicality is king

Though you might pine for the days when a coupe was your daily driver, you must think in practical terms. The top selling sedan in Australia is the Toyota Corolla, followed by the Mazda 3. The highest selling passenger vehicle segment in Jan-June 2019 was the medium SUV (104,450 sold.)

Depending on your needs and preferences, these are all good starting points with good cargo space for new and small families.

If you've got more than a couple of kids or a brood of future basketballers, it might be a large SUV you need, or even a people mover like the spacious Honda Odyssey or the surprisingly sleek Kia Carnival. Moving into this segment means accommodating up to seven or eight people: room for the folks, the kids, and a couple of friends too.

Safety is just as important

A car or vehicle with a five-star ANCAP safety rating is a must for any prospective family car. If it doesn’t have child seat anchor points (known as ISOFIX), airbags, and other safety features such as reverse cameras or lane change warnings to reduce risks out on the road – don’t buy it.

The primary use case

Think about your car’s lifestyle now – what do you use the car for? It may be tempting to buy an SUV thinking you’ll take the family on road trips… but if you aren’t doing the day trip every other weekend now, it’s unlikely you’ll start once you have kids.

If you’re doing the milk run or the school run, a medium-sized car might be best. SUVs do have more passenger space, but buying a fully fledged 4WD might be overkill.

Efficiency

Kids are an investment in the future – cars are a bit of a money pit. They’re useful, but you will spend a lot on insurance, fuel, and maintenance. Buying a more fuel-efficient car is a wise choice; your hip pocket will thank you later.

Affordability and finance

Once you have a bit of a shortlist going, the next big question is – can I afford this? If the answer is no, strike it off. However, you can go into a dealership knowing how much you can spend without breaking the bank by getting finance pre-approval.

Bill Tsouvalas, car finance expert and CEO of Savvy explains: “Car loan pre-approval is your greatest weapon against dealers,” he says.

“It sets a firm price ceiling that you can’t budge from. If your dealer can’t meet your price or demands, you have to walk away. You’ll be surprised how their boss suddenly approves ‘tough’ deals with that in place!”

Test drive – with the kids

Once you’ve got the car you want and need in mind, test drive it – with the kids.

The kids must like it too; if they’re little ones now and can’t quite squeeze in, you’ll know it’s too small for the future. You might even find out how hard it is to clean the seats while you’re at it!

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This article is brought to you by Savvy, leading car finance broker and 2018 Feefo Gold Trusted Service winner.