How to choose the right vehicle for a large family

Posted on Nov 30 2017 - 5:29pm by Nicole Smith

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When my husband and I got together, we each brought two kids into the relationship. It’s been five years since then and our kids have grown…a lot. We now have a 16-year-old, 15-year-old (16 in two months!), a 14-year-old and a 10-year-old. Every car ride with these four usually results in some sort of argument that my husband and I have to referee about who needs more leg room.

Since we have three teenagers, ranging from 5’3″ to 5’6″, we have to consider their heights when choosing a new vehicle. The last vehicle we purchased was a mini van. At the time, it seemed the best choice for us because of the amount of room. The downside to owning one, at least for me, was how they drive in the snow and on windy days. It almost feels as though the van will blow off the road.

Since I spend a lot of time driving back and forth from my son’s charter school, to and from various activities, custody drop offs, errands, therapy for my son, med checks, etc., there are times my van actually feels like a second home. That means I need to feel comfortable while driving it. If I don’t, my anxiety gets worse and that helps no one.

Now that my husband and I know what we want in a vehicle, we are more ready than ever to make the right vehicle choice for our family. helps us look at various cars and features to help us make an informed purchasing decision that is right for our family.


These are some of the areas you should consider when you’re shopping around for your next vehicle.

  • Leg room: As I stated above, we have our kids’ long legs to consider. While our two teen girls are pretty much done growing, my stepson isn’t and will probably grow another two to three inches before he’s done. When you also factor in my son, the 10-year-old, who has a long time until he’s done growing, we have to look at how much room the kids have when all four are in the car. Less room makes long car rides less tolerable.
  • Rows: Because we have four kids, we need three rows of seats. But not all three rows are created equally. My husband and I have actually gone to car dealerships and climbed into the very back row and put the row in front back as far as it will go to see how much room is left. If it’s cramped, we cross it off the list.
  • MPG: Because I drive a lot, we have to consider how many miles per gallon a vehicle gets. We don’t want a gas hog, especially with the cost of gas these days.
  • Decent size cargo area: When we travel away from home, or we go grocery shopping, we need space in the back that can hold groceries, luggage, sports equipment, emergency supplies, and a cooler, when necessary. (We tend to keep one in our van during the summer because it keeps our meats, dairy products, fish, etc., cold.) If we can fold down the last row to give us more room, even better. We don’t always have all four kids, so the extra room is nice.
  • Good safety rating: The car we are looking at now has a great safety rating, which is important. I want to know my family is safe when we are in it. Kids are precious cargo after all.
  • Automatic car starter: Though this isn’t a huge issue for us since we keep our vehicles in our garage, those who live in cold climates and don’t have the luxury of a garage, would definitely benefit from an automatic car starter. No one wants to climb into a cold, ice and snow-covered car.
  • Built-in DVD players: Though our kids are older, they still get bored on long car rides. Built-in DVD players are great because they keep kids entertained and help parents stay sane.
  • Amount of cup holders: Because our schedules are so hectic, there are times our kids have to eat their meals on the go. That’s where the cup holders come in handy. (They also come in handy when our teen daughters NEED a coffee or they won’t make it through the day. *insert eye roll here*)
  • Room for a garbage receptacle: Because we eat on the go, having a place to put garbage is a must because our kids are disgusting and will leave their garbage wherever it’s convenient. They are not beyond tossing stuff backwards into the cargo area and then leaving it there for mom and dad to pick up.
  • Price: This is kind of no brainer. We don’t need a ton of expensive extras, so we like to know the barebones price of the vehicle we’re in. Some salesman will definitely try to encourage buyers to get package deals that include features that they don’t need. While a heated seat is nice for the tushie, it’s not a necessity for us.

What are some things that you consider when looking for your ideal family car? Comment below.


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