The sheer number of kid-crammed SUVs cruising your neighbourhood has you convinced. When it comes to having a baby, purchasing an SUV is right up there with preparing the bassinet. But do you really need a larger vehicle if you’re growing your family? We find out.
You’re pregnant. And now that the initial excitement (or shock) has worn off, you’re suddenly knee-deep in to-do lists (or, is that to-purchase lists?).
As if deciding between a car capsule and a regular car seat isn’t enough, you’re now considering what type of SUV is best value for money for your family.
But hold on a second. Do you really need an SUV? Or are there other options?
SUVs for growing families: The benefits
It’s not a coincidence. There are plenty of reasons why millions of Australian families choose to size-up to an SUV once kids are in the picture.
Many parents find that the height of an SUV allows them to feel greater confidence when driving their children around. Unlike smaller, lower-seated cars, SUVs allow more of an overall view of passing traffic – ensuring drivers can see what’s coming from way up high.
For this reason, many parents report feeling “safer” when driving an SUV. However, it’s important to note that the safety of the vehicle you choose to drive is dependant on many factors.
The year it was manufactured, the make, the model and features such as airbags all factor in. If you’re basing your decision to buy an SUV on safety, be sure to look at the full picture.
Greater storage space
Anyone with a kid will tell you their car is a second-home to an assortment of knick-knacks. Leftovers in lunchboxes, camping equipment, cricket bats, prams and porta-cots are just some of the items that live full-time in the boots of many Australian SUVs.
Put simply, for a large portion of the population, the SUV is a storage unit on wheels.
One of the benefits of driving a car large enough to house a stack of stuff is that you don’t have to unload and reload every time you pull into the driveway. Many of the items you take to and from places can remain in the back seat – a positive when your hands are tied up with a newborn.
Room to move
Even if having extra leg-room isn’t a must-have in your eyes, having the ability to sit in your front seat comfortably once a baby capsule is installed will be.
For drivers of hatchbacks in particular, fitting a baby capsule in the back seat often means pushing the seat in front of it all the way forward.
If you’d like to drive home from the hospital (or anywhere else for that matter) in the seat next to your partner, you may want to consider upsizing.
Road trip friendly
Road trips can feel claustrophobic at the best of times. Add a screaming baby, and you’ll experience that well-known frustration on an even greater level.
By investing in an SUV, many Australians ensure their long-winded trips will be as comfortable as possible – with plenty of space for toys and iPads for the kids in the back, while parents have room for some peace and quiet in the front.
Not to mention, with an SUV or similar, luggage Tetris becomes a whole lot easier.
SUVs aren’t for everyone
For those concerned about emissions, the cost of fuel, congestion on the roads, and simply living a smaller scale life, an SUV may not be the answer.
If this is you, don’t fret. Having a baby certainly doesn’t mean you have to drive an SUV. There are plenty of so called “soccer mums” who drive other vehicles.
I’m having a baby but don’t want an SUV. What’s the next best thing?
Ask yourself which items from the above list of benefits matter to you the most. Were you initially considering an SUV because of the added height? Was it the boot space? Or perhaps you’re after more legroom than you are storage?
The following vehicle options provide an answer to each of the above in their own unique way.
The station wagon
While you may roll your eyes at the idea of a station wagon (after all, it’s what your parents drove when you were young), they hold their merit to this day.
Boasting a big behind for sports gear, camping equipment, cots, prams and the like, the benefit of the station wagon is that it remains sleek and refined towards the front.
It’s worth noting, some sedans are so well-designed that they offer adequate leg and boot room for growing families. It’s all about the make and model.
If you’re the kind of driver who frets at the thought of parking in a busy car lot with a larger vehicle, the sedan may be for you.
Two smaller cars
Finally, for those who can’t quite part with the idea of a hot little hatchback, there is another avenue. Parents-to-be may consider investing in a second small car, owning two modest sized vehicles instead of one burly beast.
Go this route, and you simply use one car for bub, and one for solo trips – a slice of independence in your soon-to-be-busy life.
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