Sunday, 20 May 2012 2:08 PM
Reliability, practicality and safety are the key things to look out for when it comes to choosing a new family car. One brand that has all of this in spades is BMW. Check out our guide to see which three models are particularly ideal for families.
It's easy to deride 4x4s for taking up too much space on the roads, but the fact is their size and power can be incredibly useful for families on the go. The X3 is a wonderfully compact SUV that boasts plenty of space and up to 313 horsepower, depending on which type you choose.
On the downside, it's only really suitable for families of four or less, so it might be wise to go for something else if you have more kids to ferry around.
There are several cars in the 5 Series range that are definitely worth considering for their space, practicality and style. Your local BMW dealer should be able to offer advice on which one will be most suitable for you and your family, but one to certainly think about is the 520D Touring.
This decent-sized estate car is the perfect choice if you're looking to combine a great appearance with lots of power. Packed with safety features, the 520d Touring is easy to drive and provides more than enough space for all the family.
In fact, it's so good that Top Gear gave it an award in the family car category in 2010. Their exact words were: "It offers such a comprehensive set of interlocking genius that it sounds too good to be true."
This 4×4 is relatively cheap to run if you go for one of the diesel versions. The X5 also boasts great handling and lots of room if you opt for a seven-seat car. You won't miss out if you choose the five-seat X5, though, as you'll benefit from an extra large boot.
As befits its 4×4 status, the X5 is good on non-road territory, so this is one car worth considering if you think you're likely to take the kids on holiday deep in the countryside at some point soon!
Whatever brand of family car you're interested in, there are a few things to think about when choosing your vehicle:
• Safety – Legislation requires car manufacturers to follow strict safety standards, but this doesn't mean all vehicles are equally safe. Look up individual safety ratings online on the Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) website.
• Practicality – Look at things like how far the doors open (important if you need to regularly install and take out a child car seat), whether the seats recline or slide, and storage space. A number of family cars now offer storage areas under seats and elsewhere in the cabin, providing lots of alternatives to the trusty boot.
• Entertainment – This might not be quite as high up on your list as safety and practicality, but it's worth checking out features such as in-cabin power points if you regularly go on long journeys with the kids. You might end up with a lot more peace and quiet than usual by offering your children the opportunity to plug in their DVD player or portable gaming console on the motorway – surely something that's worth a little extra investment!