To upgrade or to get creative?

April 29, 2020

How to best accommodate your growing family in your car

Expanding your family? Congratulations! This is without a doubt one of the most exciting times in your life, but you could be faced with some important decisions – such as how to best accommodate your growing family in your car.

Particularly if your newest addition means you’ll have two kids or more, you may find you’ve outgrown your current vehicle and need something a little more spacious. Or it could be worth investigating keeping your car and buying new child car seats to suit.

There are pros and cons to both these options, but we’ve put together these tips for making a smooth transition so you can relax and enjoy your impending arrival.

Firstly, let’s assess the best plan of attack for you and your growing brood:

Do you keep your current vehicle, but buy new slim-line seats (or if you’re lucky, keep some of your existing ones)?

This could be the most cost-effective option (and in these unprecedented times it may be the best one for some) but be aware that you may need to play a good old-fashioned game of Tetris! But never fear, there are plenty of baby stores who can help you identify the most suitable seats for your car. Baby Bunting, for example, deal with different vehicles and car seat combinations on a daily basis, so can give guidance on what’s going to work, and even professionally fit the seats for you. In some cases, though – especially if you’re going from two to three kids – this is simply not going to be possible unless you drive a medium size SUV at minimum.

 Do you purchase a new, roomier vehicle?

This is obviously going to have a bigger impact on your bottom line, but it could be the better (possibly the only) option, especially if you drive a smaller car that is restricted with space. In addition to butts on seats, you’ll want to consider the extra room needed for things like increased grocery bags, suitcases and other items, or a larger stroller.

So, what are your best options if you do decide to go for the car upgrade? Here are our top suggestions from Toyota’s fleet of family-friendly cars:

 Toyota’s RAV 4 Hybrid

There’s a reason the RAV 4 won the 2019 CarsGuide Family Car of the Year, and was the overall champion in Drive’s Car of the Year 2020. The RAV 4 is known for its spacious cabin which can comfortably fit four adults or a family of five, its ample boot space, clever storage including four cup holders, four bottle holders and a handy shelf in front of the passenger seat, plus the superb legroom in the back providing comfort for even the tallest adults.

Although only a 5-seater, three child car seats fit along the second row if needed. The GX and GXL models boast 4.7L/100km fuel efficiency, saving you precious money on petrol, and all models are built with Toyota’s latest tech and safety features. Along with receiving the maximum 5-star 2019 ANCAP rating and offering 7 SRS airbags, this is a great, safe option for families.

The Cruiser and Edge models also offer a 360-degree view monitor, perfect for keeping a close check on what the kids are up to in the back seat without taking your eyes off the road!

In the words of CarsGuide’s FamilyGuide segment expert Nedahl Stelio, the RAV 4 is “an all-around package that also delivers a stylish finish for families who may have been used to compromising on style for practicality and value.”

Toyota Kluger

A long-time favourite for families, the Kluger is a roomy, 7-seater SUV with a powerful V6 engine that offers a smooth, quiet drive. It’s known for its comfortable cabin and has thoughtful storage touches and deeply cushioned seats.

All Klugers offer auto braking and other advanced driver assistance features as standard. They have Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming, and an advanced audio system with iPod, Aux and USB inputs, and six speakers.

Even with the third row up, there’s enough room in the Kluger for school bags and groceries.

With Toyota’s advanced safety features and the coveted 5-star 2019 ANCAP rating, the Kluger is a tried and trusted option.

Toyota Landcruiser 200 Series

Baby Drive calls the Landcruiser “the gentle giant you could take anywhere” and we tend to agree! Not only does it offer a quiet, ultra-smooth ride, it’s perfect for those more adventurous families who like to get off-road camping and exploring together (practising social distancing of course).

The second row can easily fit up to three car seats, however there is the option of having 7 seats if you utilise the third row. There is also a split boot door at the back, making it much easier to quickly load and unload items (always handy when you’re transporting impatient little ones) and plenty of boot space for fitting the stroller and extra bags.

Generous interior storage includes a huge middle console, large cup holders, a phone well and glasses case.

Once again, the Landcruiser has a 5-star ANCAP rating, and the X and Sahara versions offer eight airbags for maximum safety.

Toyota Landcruiser Prado

 Sometimes referred to as the ‘little brother’ of the Landcruiser, the Prado offers excellent value for money, with a perfect combination of power and style, and all the latest in safety technology.

For a big 4WD, the Prado is very comfortable as a day-to-day family car, but it’s also built tough. Practical Motoring calls this 7-seater SUV “a genuine all-rounder that feels just at home performing the weekday school-run as it does driving to the bush on an extended outback adventure.”

The Prado enables up to 5 child car seats to be installed with use of the third row. Boot storage is massive when just using the front two rows, and would accommodate 17 shopping bags or any type of stroller fitted with a good amount of shopping around it.

It also offers a handy conversation mirror so you can keep an eye on the kids in the back without having to turn your head away from the road.

Given we’re all spending a lot more time at home right now, it’s the perfect opportunity to start doing your car research! Many of the Torque Toyota team have young families themselves, and are only too happy to assist with their expert and personal knowledge on how to best fit your growing family into your vehicle.