The DAD guide to buying your first family car

Priorities changing? Ready to make the jump to a certified 'dad car'? We've got you covered in our independent series reviewing the best wheels for new families. 

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For the past two years our team of writers have been offering information and guidance on a wide range of topics for new and expecting fathers, and even not-so-new dads.

We are now introducing the DAD Car Reviews series where we will concentrate on vehicles suitable for your young family.

We all know that buying a car is supposed to be an unemotional decision based on your budget and your needs. We also all know that more often than not common sense flies out the window when we actually get down to making the purchase.

It’s amazing how many times all the pre-purchase research is instantly forgotten when it is time to make the purchase.

Suddenly you find all sorts of reasons to justify a more powerful engine or convince yourself the two-door sports coupe looks so much sexier than the “boring” four-door sedan you set out to buy.

With a family on the way, or maybe already here, you can no longer afford to be swayed by smooth talking salesmen or get carried away with the fantasy of owning the quickest, sportiest car in the street.

Now, things like a usable rear seat that is easy to access are extremely important. Not only do you need enough space to fit the baby capsule/seat (or maybe two), you need enough cargo space to carry all the other paraphernalia you need when you have a young family.

And you will be shocked at just how much gear you will need. Prams today are bigger than my first car (I had a VW Fastback while most of my friends were driving EH Holdens).

Visiting friends requires more planning than a weekend fishing trip. You need to take the pram in case you decide to drop into the shops while out, a portable cot in case you stay longer than expected and a bag, full of nappies, bottles, spare clothes and a few toys, bigger than the average bloke would need for a two-week holiday to Bali.

This sudden change, yes another one, does not mean you will never own a car that you love, or enjoy driving again. It just means that things like safety, cabin space, cargo space, ease of access and even technology (especially the type that will keep your kids entertained) are now absolute non-negotiables when buying your next car.

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How silly are you going to look if you come home with a sports car, or a hot hatch or even a big “kick-ass” ute only to find the baby capsule doesn’t fit, or you can get the capsule in but there is no room for the wife or any of those essentials that have now become part of your daily life.

This is where our reviews come into play. Instead of you having to carry baby capsules to dealerships to see how they will fit, we will do it for you. We will fit rear and forward facing car seats into every vehicle we drive and give you a rundown of how easy they are to fit and access.

We will also look at things like upholstery and how well it will, or won’t, wear and how easy it is to clean. And we will show you how much gear you can get into the cargo area or boot.

Important features like safety, driver assist technology and entertainment will also feature prominently in our reviews.

And, of course, we will talk about performance. Yes, that does mean engine size and power, as well as how well it drives. After all, as we said earlier, buying a car that is suitable for your family does not mean that it can’t still be fun to drive.

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