A vehicle is more than just a machine that gets you from Point A to Point B, especially when you have passengers along for the ride. There are a lot of factors that determine which vehicle fits your family’s needs the best.

How can you find the right vehicle for your family? The first and most important step is to examine your needs, and prioritize them over your wants. This will help you to keep costs lower by focusing on the most important aspects of the vehicle instead of getting caught up in more expensive frills.

So consider the following factors and think about what you really NEED in your vehicle!



If you’re hauling precious cargo, large or small, safety is obviously a major consideration. Though most manufacturers these days are dedicated to safety, this is no place to skimp or take things for granted. Some vehicles do greatly outperform others in this department, so be on the lookout for:

  • Crash test ratings – See how they’re expected to perform in the event of an accident.
  • Rollover capability – This is especially important for SUVs and other taller vehicles that are potentially top-heavy.
  • Safety features – Once you’ve narrowed down potential vehicles, you’ll need to research which safety features come standard and which you will have to pay extra far. This could be a deciding factor in the end.



Space is always a consideration for families on the go. For many years, large vehicles were popular picks, partly because they offered more flexibility and room to spread out and stash things. But in recent years, smaller vehicles are making a comeback because they cost less, use less gas and are often friendlier to the environment. But how small is too small, and how big is too big, for you? Consider the following:

  • How many people will you be transporting – just your children, or will their friends probably be joining too?
  • Do you need to consider space for hauling the family dog?
  • How often will adults be sitting in the back seat?
  • Do you take long road trips that will require lots of luggage and space to spread out comfortably?


Don’t be overwhelmed by the seemingly endless options and features available in today’s models – you can weed them out one by one by considering what’s necessity and what’s luxury. Think about your needs for each of the following:

  • Four wheel drive / all-wheel drive vs. two wheel drive – Do you really drive in conditions that require 4WD or AWD? (e.g. roads so slippery that they strand cars, heavy towing situations, off-roading, etc.)
  • Manual transmission vs. automatic – Though manuals tend to be less expensive, if you regularly drive in stop-and-go traffic it’s probably worth paying a little extra for the automatic transmission (especially if you don’t know how to drive a stick!)
  • Will you be towing a trailer or boat? If not, that big V-8 engine is probably not necessary for you.
  • Gadgetry – Do you really need that GPS/backup camera /satellite radio/DVD player, or can you handle it the old fashioned way? (Gadgets like these are often add-ons that will cost you extra.)
  • Flexible/foldable seating – Will you use this vehicle to transport larger items that would require you to fold down or reconfigure seats?


Remember, the price of your vehicle is more than just what you pay to buy or lease it. There’s also gas, insurance and maintenance costs to consider – and these can add up quickly, especially if you do a lot of heavy driving. Be sure to factor in these expenses when determining how much you can afford.



Not sure whether the car seats (or your teen’s long legs) will fit in the backseat? Want to know whether the trunk holds the stroller or the hockey equipment? Bring the family and their gear for a test drive. The best way to know if a vehicle suits your family is to pile them in and see how it feels.

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