After the initial hate of the car world for the first-gen Prius, the popularity of hybrid cars has been growing steadily. Nowadays, they are almost as common as their counterparts with an internal combustion engine only and definitely here to stay.
However, the fact that we have grown accustomed to them is not the only reason why hybrids are more popular now. Over the years, they simply became a lot better in almost every respect. Moreover, the industry is developing incredibly quickly and we can only expect more improvements.
Should You Buy A Hybrid Car?
This depends on your needs and preferences, as well as your budget. We are here to give you all the information you need about the pros and cons of hybrid cars, your buying options and the stage of development the industry is in right now so that you can make an informed decision.
1. Kinds of hybrid cars
Although there are exceptions, most hybrid cars fall into one of the three following categories:
Parallel hybrids offer the most versatility when it comes to what propels the wheels. The power can come from both the engine and the electric motor(s) at the same time, from the engine alone, or from the motor(s) alone. Popular models like the Honda Fit Hybrid or Honda Shuttle Hybrid would be using this technology.
Algorithms that control these functions vary greatly, depending on the desired result. For example, the Prius uses the electric motor for most of its city stop and go traffic, which makes it very efficient in these conditions. In some options, the motor serves only to help the engine which usually operates on the Atkinson cycle, which makes it more efficient, but it also limits power.
Instant torque of electric motors is of great help for acceleration and it provides the push in those sections when the engine is least efficient. This is the most common type of hybrids today.
Series hybrids are also called range-extending hybrids and they are closer to electric-only vehicles as the wheels are directly propelled only by the motor. The engine is used only to help produce more electric power for the motor.
Plug-in hybrids are very similar to parallel hybrids, but they can be plugged in and charged. Their batteries are usually larger and heavier, they usually cost more, but they can also cover greater distances on electric power alone. They are like parallel hybrids on steroids – more capable, but also more expensive and heavier.
2. Batteries are heavy and expensive
This segment of the industry is actually the fastest developing one. Batteries keep getting more capacity in smaller packages but they are still pretty heavy. In many cars, batteries are located low to lower the center of gravity, so even though they add some weight, the car usually feels more planted than bulky.
Of course, this greatly depends on the size of the battery. A smaller battery will add less weight and take up less space but they will also reduce the benefits of driving a hybrid.
In terms of price, batteries are not cheap but most manufacturers offer long warranties. Moreover, in many countries, drivers of hybrids or electric cars usually have lower taxes, road charges or even purchasing discounts, so they can prove to be more cost-efficient even if you have to buy the battery seven to ten years down the road.
3. Range is usually not an issue
Whenever you mention any option of electric powering of a car, most people start complaining about the range. Now, the all-electric range is an issue but having an engine to help usually means that you get very close to the range of cars with internal combustion engines only. However, we should note that some hybrid cars have smaller fuel tanks.
4. They are more efficient in town
This sounds counterintuitive, but most hybrids will have regenerative braking, which means that braking actually charges batteries. When you drive in the city, deceleration is far more common and you have more juice in the battery. This is also why most hybrids on the market are compact cars and SUVs, most often used in the city.
5. They differ among themselves
Even though all hybrids are intended to reduce fuel efficiency and emissions, the way they feel on the road varies greatly from model to model. You may be utterly bored by them or absolutely stunned by performance and responsiveness.
The more power that comes from the electric motor, the more responsive the car, thanks to the instant torque at all revs that is delivered by electric motors. This also means they need bigger batteries and cost more.
Some others are intended to be more affordable and primarily efficient, so they have toned down engines and less powerful electric motors.
Make sure you test out the car to see if it meets your needs. Hybrids are here to stay, they are getting better by the day and there are already some very good options by renowned manufacturers.
A good servicing network should be an essential part of any sensible car purchase but not many people give it the necessary attention. Buying a car that which has no expert workshop is never a good idea, since when things go bad, you need someone who knows what they are doing.
Moreover, each car brand also often have their own unique engineering solutions which not many mechanics will have experience with. Modern cars from most brands nowadays have their own hardware and software tools which often cost a lot.
A good car servicing option in Singapore is not important only if you have major breakdowns. Even regular maintenance can prove to be an issue. The more pressure the parts have to endure, the more important things like proper engine or transmission oil or other liquids are.
Almost every car manufacturer states what needs to be used in their cars for safe, durable and optimal operation. There are a few DIY things that you can do for your car to save money, read more about it in our article: 6 DIY Car Maintenance Tips
Due to all these reasons, a good car service in Singapore needs to tick a few boxes without exception. It should employ experienced experts who are familiar with the latest trends in the industry and have the latest tools, it should be specialised in a few brands, or even in just one, it needs to have a good reputation and it would be perfect if you could make your cooperation with the workshop an ongoing affair. This will mean that they will want to give you the best service because nobody wants to lose a returning customer.
Finding a good car workshop in Singapore is definitely worth the effort, as it can save you a lot of money and bring you the peace of mind that is priceless. Here is how to find one of them. Make sure your workshop of choice ticks these boxes.
They work on vehicles from specific brands
Even though you can find a very good mechanic who works on all brands and models, the best service will usually come from services that are specialised in one or a few brands. An intricacy of a particular model that is familiar to a mechanic who works on a few of those every day may be completely new to someone who performs only regular maintenance.
Worst case scenario, your car can be seriously damaged. OK, this kind of a result is rare, but even if you save only time and money by choosing a mechanic that is an expert in your brand, it is well worth it.
They employ experts
Nobody is born an expert and young and passionate mechanics are always a good thing but the best workshop will also inevitably include qualified mechanics with the right tools and loads of experience.
However, the fact that there is an expert somewhere in the workshop does not mean he is the one working on your car. Which leads us to the next point.
They have a good reputation
Ask around. If a car service in Singapore has a good reputation, that means they are doing something right. Good reputation from various sources is built over time and easily tarnished. We always check online sources but in a relatively small space such as Singapore, asking friends and neighbours is a very good idea. If someone you know has had a car for a few years, it is very likely that they have experience with services for that brand.
They are not unreasonably cheap
Good equipment and expert mechanics cost money, so if servicing is too cheap, you can safely assume they are compromising on something which should not be an option. Of course, a very high price is also not a guarantee you are getting the best service, so price should most definitely not be the deciding factor in the beginning. It can only be important when choosing between the top few servicing options that passed all the other tests.
They have good customer care
Even though responsive customer care by no means guarantees that their mechanics know what they are doing, it is a very nice bonus. You should know how long your car will be in service, if they have free pick-up or any other benefits. This point should not be the deciding one, but it should be seen as a bonus when you filter out other services based on the previously mentioned criteria.
They are close to you
Again, this is another thing that should not be the deciding factor since quality is more important than convenience in this respect but bear in mind that you cannot really plan when your car will break down. Unless the car service of your choice has free pick up or drop off, you will have to drive the car to the workshop, which can seriously worsen the issue, or have the car towed which will cost more money and take more time.
They have an ongoing business relationship with you
If you have had a great experience with a car service for your previous vehicle, it is worth considering choosing the same brand of the car for your next purchase. It is an even easier choice if you can buy your car and service it at the same place. Car sellers that offer servicing as part of their business are not looking to sell you a bad car, because they need to give you a warranty for it, so if you keep coming back to claim the warranty, they will lose money.
Here at Vin’s Automotive, we provide a warranty for the cars that we sell. Our customers just have to bring their car back to our workshop for any maintenance and repairs.
Similarly, they will do their best to keep you as a customer, so that they will be your first choice when you want to buy a new car. This kind of relationship makes them give you the best service available so if you can find one like that, you should look no further.
As you can see, choosing the best car workshop includes many different factors and greatly depends on your needs and preferences. The quality of work, right equipment and expertise are a must, while all the other mentioned factors only add to the positive experience.
Cars nowadays have more equipment than they ever had before. And that equipment costs money…a lot of money. The difference in prices between entry-level and top trims can be more than 40% for some models. Moreover, many of the most beloved features are available only on luxury cars which cost a real fortune in Singapore.
What if we told you there is a way to get some of those cool features for a lot less money?
Some of the must have car accessories listed below are just smart, some are very useful and some of them are life-savers that you probably haven’t thought about before. We are here to help!
1. Dashboard Cam
If you get into an accident and need to explain how it happened, there are not many better ways that using a dash cam.
Even if for some reason it does not record the actual accident, it should give enough information about the context, speed, direction in which you were going and similar.
Moreover, dash cams often catch some strange, funny or even dangerous incidents. Most of the traffic accident videos online were made by dash cams.
If you really want to make the most of the dash cam, make sure you get one that is high definition which allows for clear night recording.
Price differences aren’t significant for most models, so make sure you get one with a wide angle and a frame rate and resolution good enough to record license plates of moving cars for example.
2. Parking Coupons
Sure we mostly use EPS nowadays, but there are many places that require the old-fashioned coupons. They are easy to get, take up a tiny bit of space and can be very useful, especially when we park in areas known to have very active traffic wardens.
3. Parking Sensors
Parking sensors are standard equipment in many modern cars, but even the ones that are not equipped with them can get an aftermarket upgrade.
They can be used for the front and rear and they are essential for covering blind sports and getting really close to other cars around you without hitting them.
If you are going with aftermarket parking sensors, make sure you have a professional install them and make sure you test them out first. They measure the distance to obstacles so they do not always take into account the peculiarities of the car you are driving.
For example, if you have an SUV with a spare wheel mounted on the tailgate, you should check and see if parking sensors cover that extension to your car’s length as well or you may hit your wheel cover.
4. Blindspot Mirrors
These little convex additions to your side mirrors are just awesome. They give you the view of places that are usually not covered by the position of the standard mirror and can really help you navigate through tight spaces. Or spotting vehicles caught in your blindspot when filtering lanes on the road.
They are also very basic in design, cheap and easy to install, so they are actually the perfect accessory – affordable, trouble-free and very useful.
5. Car Back Seat Organiser
We were thinking of including various car storage enhancement accessories, but there are so many of them that they alone can comprise a whole new list. There are additional cup holders, seat gap fillers, clips for sunglasses, smartphone and tablet holders and even trays where you can put your food on. For that reason, we decided to go with one that combines most of the features of all other options in one product.
Car back seat organisers make use of a storage surface that is usually left unused or adorned only with a lowly map pocket. Depending on the type, they can serve a wide array of storage purposes including literally all of the above-mentioned storage products and add a few more.
What you should think about before buying is if there is enough legroom in the back for the passengers you often take in the rear seats. These organizers take just a little space but if it is already tight, they are going to make things a bit worse.
Secondly, make sure you shop around. Price differences between competing models are not too big, so it makes sense to spend a few dollars more for a product that has more storage options, is made of better materials and is water-resistant, for example.
6. Battery Jumpstarter
In all honesty, you will not need this often, but when you do, it is irreplaceable. Batteries don’t die unexpectedly very often and even when they do, there is usually someone near you to help you jump-start the car by connecting it to their car battery.
However, when this is not the case or you are parked in a tight spot so the other car cannot come close enough to help, a portable jump starter is a lifesaver.
They are usually very small and not very expensive, so there is no reason not to have one in your car at all times.
7. Rooftop Cargo Box
If you want to buy a good one from a renowned manufacturer, this is probably the most expensive accessory on the list. However, it is also a way to save much more money when buying a car, especially having in mind our car prices. Rooftop cargo boxes are a godsend for people who need large boots a few times a year only for work or if you do road trips to Malaysia.
Instead of limiting your vehicle choice to cars with huge boots for the sake of those two family holiday trips you make each year, you can buy a far more affordable family hatchback and just slap on a rooftop cargo box when you need extra cargo volume.
There are loads of shapes and sizes to choose from, so you can even keep your car stylish while increasing the volume of your boot.
8. GPS Navigation
Another thing that is very common in modern cars, but also not often present on parallel import vehicles is an infotainment screen that usually includes GPS. If you don’t have one, you can either have it installed or simply use your phone’s GPS apps.
Even if you know the streets you drive very well, GPS can be very valuable. Versatile solutions such as Google Maps can help you find specific shops, restaurants, businesses or other points of interest. They can also offer real-time traffic reports and automatic rerouting.
Just make sure you do not set it up while driving.
9. Tyre Repair Kit
So, why is it a good idea to have one especially in you live in a small developed country like Singapore?
First of all, it is small. If you have one of these modern small cars that have no spare wheel, adding a spare wheel in the back will take up most of the boot. A tyre repair kit is usually a simple small tube that you can carry in the car and completely forget it is there until you actually need it.
Secondly, even if you have a spare tyre, it is not always easy or possible to replace is with a spare one. Maybe you need to get to an important meeting and the only thing you need less than being late is being late and sweaty from changing a tyre; maybe you are in a tight spot and you don’t have enough manoeuvring space to change the tyre. Maybe you haven’t checked your spare in a while and you find that it is not inflated when you really need it or maybe you are simply in a hurry.
A tyre repair kit should be your last choice if you have a proper spare car tyre but there are times when it is the best solution.
Moreover, aftermarket repair kits are usually much cheaper than the ones made by manufacturers, so they are an affordable way to get some peace of mind.
If you have recently bought a new car, this article is only partially for you. If you own a car that is still under warranty, car maintenance should be done by the dealer as messing around with your car internal parts can void your warranty.
Warranty is different for different brands, but most commonly it is 5 years or 100,000 km, whichever comes first.
Most car maintenance for vehicles under warranty should be done by dealers in order to preserve the warranty. The only things that you should do are some basic tasks and only if they have no impact on your warranty.
However, once the warranty is over, most owners opt for private mechanics to do their car maintenance in Singapore as they are usually cheaper than dealers. Expertise is rarely a problem for private mechanics with a good reputation and most of them are specialised in models made by a particular brand.
Moreover, after 5+ years that a model has been on our streets, independent mechanics should be familiar with peculiarities that some new cars introduce.
Having no warranty anyway means that you can safely reduce your maintenance cost but a good mechanic is not cheap even if they are independent. If there are some simple things that you can do yourself, why not save time and money at the same time?
Here are some car maintenance tips that are easy and safe enough for DIY.
1. Changing Fuses
If an electric feature in your cars stops working for no apparent reason, the most likely reason is a blown fuse. They are very easy to replace, as long as you know where the fuse box is. In some vehicles there are two places where you can find fuses and in most cases they are either under the bonnet (usually somewhere closer to the cabin) or in the lower part of the dashboard, somewhere under the steering wheel, or in the glove box.
It is smart to learn where the fuse box is in your car before you have any problem. You can find that information in the user manual.
Every car has tens of fuses and the fuse box cover usually has an explanation which fuse is in charge of protecting which electrical component. Once you find the fuse, simply take it out and put in a new one. You don’t need any tools (although you can use pliers) or special knowledge.
Just bear in mind that you need to replace the blown fuse with one that has the same amp rating. There is usually a writing on it, or, if not, always use the one that is of the same colour as the blown one. If you don’t have the same one, make sure you use the lower-amp fuse as an emergency solution until you buy the right one.
A higher-amp fuse can let too much current through and damage the electric component it is supposed to protect.
Moreover, fuses are very cheap, so this is a very easy and affordable fix that you can do anywhere.
2. Replacing Wiper Blades
Though not as cheap as fuses, windscreen wipers are also an affordable part and usually very easy to replace. Different weather conditions and materials make it difficult to predict how often you need to do this, but as soon as the wipers are worn it should be changed.
All you need to do is buy the same blades that you have on your car, pull the wipers away from the windscreen until they lock, rotate the blade at 90 degrees, remove the old blade. There is usually a locking tab that you should press to release the blade and install the new blade (make sure it snaps into place firmly).
Always make sure you test the new blades to make sure you’ve done everything right and never do the test on a dry windscreen.
3. Changing Lights
Most modern cars, due to their cool designs and plastic covers under the bonnet, might require some knowledge to replace lights bulbs. However, on most cars, after you have seen this done once, changing bulbs should not be a problem for you. Even if the front lights are out of reach, brake lights should be easier to access from the boot. Your user manual should give you all the information needed.
Once again, make sure you use the right bulbs. The easiest way to determine if you have the right ones is to compare them to the ones you are removing from the vehicle.
4. Replacing Air Filter
Your user manual should tell you how often you need to replace the air filter, but it is usually after a few tens of thousands of kilometres. This requires a bit more work, but it is pretty straightforward.
Pop the bonnet and remove the engine cover. There should be a plastic container near the engine and along the air intake. It is usually held in place by a few clips and/or screws which you will need to remove. Make sure you place the new filter inside in the same way the old one was positioned and put all the clips and screws back on.
5. Cleaning Drains
Clean the drain channels on your car every now and then. If they get clogged by leaves, debris or dust, you may experience some serious problems with water ingress which can range from wet interior to serious problems with electrics.
Even some higher class cars had issues with this. Most infamously, the W220 generation of the Mercedes S-Class was notorious for problems that come from clogged drain routes and that was a flagship model of one of the most revered manufacturers in the world.
Simply clean the drains every now and then and that’s it. It is very easy, fast and completely free.
6. Adding/Changing Fluids
Power steering fluid, coolant, engine oil, transmission oil, brake fluid and windscreen washer are the most common fluids in cars. They are not all the same and changing some of them requires more work than others. Also, the work, tools and the possibility for DIY depends on the car model, so we will go through some basic information.
Power steering fluid needs to be reddish and clean. If it is black, it should be replaced.
Coolant needs to be replaced every few years and mechanics can test to see if the time has come for your coolant to be replaced. Your user manual also gives the information, usually based on the kilometres covered.
Engine oil change intervals depend on the particular engine, but very often they are at no less than 10,000 km or 6 months. If you want to do this yourself, make sure there is someone to guide you through the process when you are doing it for the first time. Also, always change oil filter when you are changing oil.
Automatic transmission oil should be changed by experts and usually after about 60,000 km, although some manufacturers say their auto gearboxes need no oil change.
Brake fluid change should be done by experts. It is a pretty straightforward thing to do, but you need to make sure all the air is let out of the system. Having in mind the importance of brakes, this should be done by someone who knows what they are doing, since testing if brakes work is not as easy or as safe as testing if windscreen wipers work.
Windscreen washer fluid is something you can add yourself completely fuss free. Make sure you know which fluid goes where, since putting in the wrong fluid can cause serious damage to some parts.
Many drivers tend to stay away from DIY for their cars for fear of messing up the engine or electronics. However, it is good to know how to change the basic things in your car to know your car better and save cost.
If it’s something that you really do not want to dabble in, it would be best to bring your car to a reliable car workshop to get it settled.
Buying a used car is a proper skill and one that is developed over time and with lots of experience. If you want to buy a used car in Singapore, the skill needs to be even more developed due to all the issues with badly maintained cars, COE, unexpected fees, dishonest dealers and some of the highest prices for used cars in the world.
Hence buying a used car can be a daunting task and one that should not be taken lightly to save you the headache down the road.
We are here to help you decide if used cars in Singapore are worth buying for you and, if so, how to go through the process as peril-free as possible.
Is a second-hand car worth buying?
There is no correct answer here. The peace of mind that comes from buying a new car, as well as the latest technological advancements, are very enticing. On the other hand, you can save a lot of money by buying a used car.
Moreover, it is not just about the money. Even if you can afford a new car, you can usually buy a higher class one for the same amount of money if you buy used. These kinds of vehicles also depreciate more quickly, so the saving is even more significant.
However, you should not go for cars that are too old. Most regular cars depreciate more than 20% in the first year and the depreciation rate slows down after that. Generally speaking and depending on how much you are willing to spend, the sweet spot between age and value is somewhere between three and seven years old.
Depreciation is already significant after three years, so you can save a lot of money and most cars are still under warranty and the latest generation of the model. At about seven years old the car has lost a large chunk of its value, it is out of warranty so it can be taken to independent mechanics and it is as close to the ten year limit as it can be considered comfortable.
To give a short answer to the question above, if you cannot afford the car you want brand new, buying a used vehicle is worth it.
Which car is best as a second hand buy?
A well-maintained one! That is the best answer to this question. However, it is not the only answer.
Aside from a clean service history, there are some general points to consider. If you want to buy a used car in Singapore, you probably want to save some money. With that in mind, you should look for cars made by prominent manufacturers, with a good servicing network and relatively affordable prices of spare parts.
You should also consider cars which are more common on the streets of Singapore because this usually means there are more of them to choose from and there is more information about potential issues with a particular model.
Japanese car models are known to be more durable than its continental peers in general. But a lot boils down to how well the car was serviced by its previous owner/s.
What to check when buying a used car?
A used car inspection is essential and it should be done in several steps. You should get the basic information from the seller even before you see the car. This information includes things like mileage, when the road tax is due, number of previous owners, if it has full servicing history, if it was involved in any accidents, if there have been any modifications to the car, if all paperwork is in order, if there are any problems with the car, if it is certified and if it has a warranty and similar.
If you like the answers, you should not believe them, but you should go and see the car. Once there, try to get proof for everything you were told over the phone. See all the paperwork, but also inspect the car visually.
See if its interior is worn as much as you would expect from the mileage, if the paint has any different shades on some parts, or if reflections are imprecise. Also, see if body panels have the same gaps on both sides.
Check the fluid levels and let the car run for a while to check if there are any leaks under it. Get it to the working temperature and see if there are any unwanted changes. Press the throttle (you can usually do it from under the bonnet) and see if there are any leaks under higher revs.
Check if all the electronic features work fine. This includes things like air conditioning, lights, power windows, sunroof and similar.
Next, take the car for a drive. First, drive calmly and listen for any unwanted noises from the suspension or bad behaviour. This is the best time to see if gearbox works as it should. Shifts should be smooth and not noisy. If it is a manual, always try the clutch. It should be reasonably soft and with an even resistance all the way. Also, it should release closer to the middle of the range and not at the very bottom or top.
After this part, go over a speed bump to see how suspension behaves. Despite the uneven surface, the car should be controlled and there should be no unexpected sounds.
Next drive the car more spiritedly. This should raise the engine temperature a bit, but not a lot. It should also put the gearbox and suspension under more stress, so you will check how good they are.
Lastly, while driving on an even surface, hit the brakes hard while holding the steering wheel straight. The car should brake evenly on all sides and not slide sideways even a little. If this happens, there are a number of things that can be wrong and none of them is OK. For example, either the brakes or suspension are in bad shape and need replacement or the car has been in a hard accident and its geometry is distorted.
Some sellers might not be too happy that you are doing this, but you have the right to test the car properly. Sure you shouldn’t torture it, but you need to know that the engine will not overheat if the car goes up a hill heavily loaded or that you can put your faith in brakes.
If anything goes terribly wrong during the harder section of the test, rest assured that it would go wrong while driving peacefully soon.
Of course, you should not act as a racing driver, or drive the car hard for too long but a spirited acceleration, few sharper turns and a hard braking session should take up to 30 seconds.
Every good car should be able to endure these without any issues.
After the drive, open the bonnet again to see if there are any signs of problems, strange sounds or leaks.
Finally, always, and I mean always, take the car to a mechanic you trust for a complete and in-depth check. Whatever your knowledge and experience, you will never be able to beat the expertise and tools of a professional. The test drive should tell you if the car is good enough to warrant paying a mechanic to give it a thorough check. It is also a nice way to test a few different models and compare them.
Where to buy a used car in Singapore?
At a reputable dealership, if possible. There are several reasons for this. When buying a used car, you are looking for a seller on whose business ethics you can count on. Their reputation means a lot more to them than trying to make a quick buck through dishonest means.
They would also like to see you again for servicing and buying your next vehicle and they are controlled by the law more than private sellers.
Similarly, they often offer special warranties, servicing and even their own financing options. This last feature is especially important if you cannot get a loan from a bank.
This does not mean you should completely exclude private sellers but make sure to do your due diligence before committing.
If you are buying from a private seller, make sure you are familiar with the forms required for a proper sales process ie. sales agreement form, insurance, loans, transfer fee, M01 form, hand-over form, etc.
You can learn more about the transfer process here.
Buying a ‘lemon’ due to you not doing the necessary due diligence is a real pain and one that can haunt you for a long time, especially with our car prices, so do your best to follow the advice from this article, buy from a respected seller and use the help of professionals both for car inspection and paperwork.
Choosing the perfect family car can be a rather challenging task.
As much as would like to get a petrol-guzzling, V8-powered SUV from one of the premium brands, it is not very likely that the family vehicle of your choice will be much fun to drive. When choosing the perfect family car, people usually have other priorities.
Family cars need to be reliable, spacious, practical, safe and reasonably powerful to keep you out of trouble on motorway merges and overtakes.
However, some of these things depend on the size of your family and your specific needs.
Do you have one or two children, or maybe four or five? Do you often drive grandparents with you? Do you drive your children and their friends often? Do you travel long distances very often and need smartphone chargers in the back?
All of these dictate the kind of a vehicle you are looking for and the required equipment, not to mention purchase budget, fuel efficiency and other ownership costs.
We will try to help you figure out what kind of a car you would need, what you should and should not consider and what your best options are. We will list the most important requirements and include vehicle example options for small and large families that should give you the idea of how the requirements look in reality.
But first, let’s set some ground rules for buying a family car that should apply for the vast majority of people in need of such vehicle:
1. You Need A Car With Good Safety Features
You will be transporting your most precious ‘cargo’ in these cars and the latest safety features should be included. Luckily, manufacturers know this and the most revered ones inevitably include them.
2. You Need A Reliable Car
You need your family car on a daily basis and if it breaks down often all other benefits are meaningless. What is the value of loads of space, great equipment and modern features if the car is in a workshop?
You will drive it every day and probably for a long time. This also means that fuel efficiency could be important.
Go for proven brands, proven engines and gearboxes and no-fuss tech features.
3. You Need A Car That You Can Service Easily And Quickly
Even the most reliable vehicles need to be serviced sometimes and a good brand service network and a brand that is common on our streets is a great idea. Also, vehicles with complicated electronic systems are not a good idea. You need a vehicle with high parts availability that can be fixed quickly and inexpensively.
In addition to this, bringing your car to an honest and reliable workshop will make things a lot easier too.
4. You Need An Affordable Vehicle
This, of course, depends on your budget, but make sure you buy a vehicle that you can well afford without stretching your finances. If there is any extravagance, it should be reserved for interior practicality and advanced safety features.
Luckily, well-established brands will offer many great features in middle-class cars, so you will be able to enjoy the most important features for a reasonable price.
Shop around for the best car loans to ensure that you get the best rates and terms.
5. You Need A Car That Is Reasonably Spacious
Obviously, this feature is different for different families, but we will try to cover the most common sizes of family vehicles below. Also, depending on the type of your car, the interior should be as versatile as possible and easy to access.
If you opt for a car that is made by a common and renowned manufacturer, you should already have most of the requirements. For example, Honda and Toyota are famous for having reliable, practical and safe vehicles and they are reasonably common.
With such a wide availability all over the world, they also have the burden of competing with the rest of the industry in pretty much every segment of the automotive market, so they will offer all of the most common features and some extra in order to stand out from the crowd.
Now let us talk about the different sizes of family cars and some vehicles that tick all the boxes in each of the sizes.
If you don’t need loads of space, your best pick would be a hatchback. Even though they are officially smaller in dimensions than saloons, hatchbacks have boots connected to the rest of the cabin, their rear seats almost always split and fold for more space and their boot lids have huge openings.
Moreover, they are very common. Almost every non-specialized brand offers at least one hatchback in their lineup, but often even more than one. This also means that competitiveness between brands in this segment inevitably brings additional perks for buyers.
They are also easier to park than most saloons and pretty light so they can even provide some driving fun to go along with better fuel economy.
However, being at the very border of the family car size, you should make sure the boot is large enough for chunky baby stuff like prams. Make sure you test this before buying.
One of the best examples in this segment is the Honda Fit Hybrid. It packs a 1.5L engine paired with an amazing 7-speed DCT gearbox that ensures the official fuel consumption of 31.4 km/L. It is surprisingly fun to drive with direct steering feel, almost no body roll, instant torque delivery from the electric motor and a zippy dual-clutch gearbox.
More importantly, it has class-leading interior space and stunning versatility. Thanks to smart engineering solutions, leg and headroom in the back are incredible for a car of these dimensions. Rear seats even recline and if you opt for the Magic Seat feature, you can even carry cargo that no other hatchback can dream of fitting inside.
There are many great features on the Honda Fit Hybrid, but its incredibly versatile interior is definitely the one that will draw most family hatchback buyers.
If you do need something bigger but still sensible and affordable, an estate is the next step. The increase in dimensions translates to more interior space and a larger boot while still following the same practical philosophy. If there was ever a question if a pram can fit into your hatchback, there should be no such worry with a proper estate.
The class leading versatility of the Fit in the hatchback segment is carried over to its sibling in the form of the Honda Shuttle Hybrid. Being a higher class vehicle, aside from the increase in space, also adds more features and an Earth Dreams i-VTEC engine that provides the best mixture of pulling power and fuel economy thanks to its advanced systems but also an electric motor and the same 7-speed DCT gearbox seen in the Fit Hybrid.
The Magic Seat function that was optional on the Fit is standard across the range and the smart solutions like far forward engine placement and putting the petrol tank under the passenger seat offer unmatched spaciousness in a reasonably compact package.
In short, if you liked the smart and practical features of the Fit, but need more space for up to five passengers, the Shuttle should be your first pick.
However, if five seats are not enough, you need an MPV with seven. Unlike hatchbacks and even some estates which can be designed to serve other purposes, MPVs are designed specifically for driving families and loads of cargo around. This is why most of them have predictable, boxy bodies that are easy to navigate despite their size and loads of interior space and versatility.
An example of an MPV that ticks all the main boxes and definitely adds more features to stand out is the Toyota Noah Hybrid. Aside from the fuel efficient yet sufficiently powerful hybrid powertrain, the Noah offers unmatched interior practicality.
For example, rear doors slide open automatically for easier access in tight parking spaces. Getting into the third row of seats is also very easy thanks to sliding second-row seats that open up a huge entry space.
Need a bed? No problem. The second-row seats can also fold back and connect to the third row seats giving you bed length.
There is one problem with 7-seat vehicles. With all seven seats in use, you usually have very limited cargo room. This is where the Noah definitely stands out.
Even with seven people inside you get great boot space and all this in a vehicle that is only 4.7 m long and that has turning radius of just 5.5 m.
Toyota also takes great care of their passengers, so Safety Sense C is standard on this vehicle.
Now you should know what some of the most important features are for a family car and what makes some vehicles stand out from the rest. If you need more guidance while choosing your family car, or if you are looking for something in a different price range, feel free to contact us to help you choose the perfect car for your family.