Nothing invites well-meaning advice from strangers quite like the sight of a rounded belly. I’m no different of course (sorry) so here’s my contribution: the days are long but the years are short and although you might be tearfully eying up that oh-so-inappropriate convertible right now, it will be yours before you know it.

In the meantime, however, you’re going to need a car that’s suitable for bubs, toddlers and little ones. What does the perfect first family car look like? The following points will help you find your perfect match…

Buy a newish car

At a time when it feels like you’re bleeding money, a cheap second-hand car might seem like the logical choice. Admittedly, provided you find the right car at the right price, it can be, but within reasonable boundaries.

New and newish (cars that are two to three years old) might be pricier than that 2005 model you’ve had your eye on but you need to remember that recent models will come with new and improved safety features such as collision avoidance systems and backup cameras.

Safety is paramount so look for a car that has a five-star rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

Look for gargantuan boot space

Many a new parent has made the mistake of assessing boot space by checking whether it will fit a pram. What it should fit, however, is not only the pram but an overstuffed nappy bag, a mountain of toys, scooters, beach bags, overnight bags for whichever relative you’ve wrangled to help you out as well as things like shopping bags, snacks, colouring books and random things toddlers love to collect when they’re in the park or beach.

Top tip when you’re shopping for a car? Take the pram you’re planning to use (if you already have it), as well as a few other bags large and small so you can have a play at fitting it all in.

Ease of use

Whether you’re planning to have one child or three in quick succession, it’s important that the car you buy allows you to get little ones (and their car seats) in and out of the back seat easily. Speak with the salesman about your requirements, and if you have your car seat already, practice strapping it in and out of the cars you’re interested in.

The car should – at minimum – have a wide-opening rear door and/or plenty of space between the front and rear seats to help you reach in and carefully scoop your baby out.

Industry respect

Writing about what makes the Kluger such a worthy category winner, Drive managing editor, Trent Nikolic, is clear about what makes this the ‘vehicle of choice for buyers wanting a practical, spacious, well-equipped family hauler’.

“Whether you’re rolling around town or heading off on a long-distance road trip, the Kluger is a high-quality family conveyance. Inside the cabin, there’s space and comfort for the family, with a versatile cabin offering plenty of storage and Toyota’s usual sense of quality and ruggedness,” he writes of the vehicle which has seven-seat capability.

No matter which car you end up going with, never forget the golden rule of driving with a little one in the back seat. Play one children’s song in the car and you will be listening to children’s music behind the wheel for the next decade. Go safe; stick with Bowie.

Dilvin Yasa

Dilvin Yasa is a journalist, author and commentator. Her vast array of work has been published around the world.

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