Finding the right car for a new or growing family can be a difficult process. Detailed information is hard to find and often anecdotal. We are compiling experiences from families across the UK to create a reliable information source.

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Below is a handy guide for what you might want to consider when it comes to buying a family car suitable for your needs.

1. How much capacity is there for car seats?

It is worth noting that some cars can fit three car seats in the rear seats for those who are not huge admirers of large cars such as MPVs/people carriers. However, as children grow and seats get bulkier it may leave you with no other option. If you already have a car seat, pram or pushchair it is good advice to take these along to car viewings to test whether they can fit easily alongside passengers. Although it is always safer for children to travel in rear seats when possible, if you plan to put a rear facing child seat in the front passenger seat, make sure you can easily turn off the airbags.

2. How easy is it to get children in and out?

Now you've managed to get the children safely inside the car, the next test is to make sure you can easily get them back out. Ensure that the car has wide opening doors with large apertures as this will make the task simpler. The last thing you want to do with young children is try to lift them in and out from the rear seats of a three door car, especially as they get heavier. Cars with raised or 'stadium' seating can make it easier to lift car seats in and out - these seats are typically limited to MPVs and 4x4s.

3. Is there enough storage?

If you're not already busy tripping over toys in your living room then you will probably be mistaking your child's maracas for the gearstick. Toys get everywhere so make sure that your next family car has plenty of storage to put them when they are not being played with. Also perfect for storing everyday parenting essentials such as nappies, tissues and wipes, storage needs to be in reach in case of an emergency.

4. Have all safety measures been taken?

You can never be too safe, especially when it comes to family cars. Make sure to check whether the car you have your eyes on has been certified on crash safety and child protection by Euro NCAP, the independent source of safety testing results. Anything less than a five-star Euro NCAP rating is considered a risk by many so make that a key feature on your checklist when searching for the right car.

5. Is there enough boot space for bags, pets, pushchairs etc?

Boot internal dimensions as well as height of the boot lip and distance from the ground are important factors to know when it comes to working out what will fit and how easy it is to get the likes of bags and pushchairs in and out. Estate cars can provide more space and allow for pets to fit comfortably. Hatchbacks can have the advantage over saloons when it comes to accommodating equipment thanks to the shape of the boot allowing for bulkier items.

6. Does the car include child-friendly features?

From DVD player screens fitted into the back of the front seats to integrated sunblinds, cars are increasingly becoming more child-friendly thanks to the many features on offer across several brands. Work out what would work best for keeping your children occupied on long journeys. Rear climate control to keep your children cool in summer could go a long way to making for a more relaxing school-run, and don't forget to opt for dark-coloured interiors that prevent spilled drinks, paint and whatever else they can throw at you from standing out.

Other useful sources

Whilst not designed with families specifically in mind, the information on RICA's website is very useful for finding details of boot space, ease of loading, door apertures and angle of opening.

Many car seat manufacturers' sites eg Maxi Cosi and Britax include lists of seats that will fit certain car models

We are creating an independent source of information. Don't forget to add your family car experiences at: What is the Best Family Car?

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