I love having a big family, seeing the different personalities of them develop and watching them play and bond as siblings is wonderful. Clearly it’s also noisy, chaotic and exhausting at times (I challenge anyone to spend a day alone with a 2 year old who is constantly moving and shouting and not feel knackered), you are also generally outnumbered. However when it comes to going out (ever seen a family ticket that includes 3 children?) or buying a car having 3 children is quite frustrating. Throw in the need to also have room for a dog when buying a car and the choice starts to become very small when you need to fit 3 car seats across the back row. We went away for 2 nights with the children and the dog recently and could have done with a roof box for luggage, Bracken’s crate takes up half the boot and a pushchair takes up half the remaining space!
I’m starting a new job in January and will be handing back my company car in a couple of weeks so we’re once again searching for cars even though we pretty much know what the choices are. They really haven’t changed much since we last looked 2 years ago and can be summarised as follows:
Choice 1 – a large MPV
Or as the lady of the manor likes to call them ‘a bus’. Very practical, plenty of room, lots of family friendly features (although on a side note the cup holders in our Grand Picasso are useless and definitely not family friendly) but overall a little dull to drive, the beige of the car world. We have a Grand Picasso at the moment, perfectly decent car just a bit boring and the lady of the manor is adamant we’re not having a bus again. The choice of a large MPV is quite short and to be honest there really isn’t much different between them; Citroen Grand Scenic, Ford SMax, VW Sharan etc all very practical. I’d actually love a VW transporter or van, would be great for days at the lake and to take on camping trips with an awning on the side. But apparently that is definitely a bus and actually cost wise is probably out of reach.
Choice 2 – a 4×4 or large SUV
The larger cars like a Discovery would perfectly for us and meet the lady of the manor’s criteria for not being a van. Plenty of room, you’d easily fit the car seats in and I think Bracken would be quite at home in the boot. But while I don’t mind not making the boring practical choice there really is no way I’m paying £500 a year to tax a car before you even consider the running costs. There is of course that classic symbol of middle class parenting the Volvo XC90 but they certainly hold their value well and our budget doesn’t stretch to anything remotely new.
Choice 3 – a pick up truck
A little bit of a left field choice this one but actually where we’re currently leaning towards. The car seats fit (we’ve tried them), loads of room in the back to put a crate for Bracken while still having room for luggage (clearly we’d put a box on the back so he doesn’t freeze). Inside the cab there is definitely less room than our current car, particularly in the foot well but still enough. A pick up truck is also designed to be tough and withstand being knocked around both inside and outside, which with the lady of the manors driving and 3 children crawling around inside might actually be a good thing. Finally we have a plan to move to Wales in the next few years and this vehicle would suddenly become very practical for that. We’d also love having a tailgate again to sit on, something we had in a previous car and very useful for getting wellies off small muddy children.
Clearly we aren’t the first people looking for a car to fit 3 children and a dog and judging by the traffic outside school each morning I think most people either buy a bus or a large SUV like an Audi Q7. But if anyone has any other good ideas do let me know.