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Is a small car or large car better for your family?

By Elise Elliott, 10 Mar 2020 Car Advice

Small vs large car advice

Does size matter? Yes, when it comes to family cars. But should you opt for a small family car or a large family car?

Big is not necessarily better. Price, fuel economy, comfort and practicality are all affected by whether you drive a large or small car. In our family, we are lucky enough to own both a mid-sized SUV and a zippy little Jimny. Here are the pros and cons of both rides.

2019 Jeep Compass

SMALL CARS

Pros

  • Fuel economy. Smaller cars have thrifty engines and less weight to move so they tend to be more fuel efficient. And this means better for the environment.
  • Easy to park. I love reverse parking the Jimny. I’m always surprised by how much room I have and I can slide into those too-tight-for-an-SUV spaces.
  • Smaller cars are less likely to be banged up by other car doors in public car parks too as they allow more room between vehicles.
  • Easy to manoeuvre around town. It’s terrific zipping in and out of inner city traffic in a smaller vehicle.

Read next: Space wars: Which cars are making the best use of boot space?

  • Cheaper to buy. Fewer materials tends to mean more competitive price. Manufacturer’s cheapest cars are usually the smaller ones.
  • Corner better. Less mass changing direction means a tighter corner.

Space wars: Which cars are making the best use of boot space?

Cons

  • Fewer passengers. Parents soon realise they act as taxi driver not only to their own kids; they’re lugging around prams, sporting equipment, musical instruments and all their kids’ friends, too. In a smaller car you can’t cart as many passengers or as much stuff. Recently in the Jimny I drove four kids to school and they all had to carry their school bags on their laps as there was no room in the boot!
  • Less stable at high speed particularly on windy days.
  • Possibly less safe in an accident. Small and light is not better than big and heavy when it comes to a crash.

Read next: Boot sizes of Australia’s best-selling SUVs

BIG CAR

Holden Acadia LTZ-V v Toyota Kluger Grande comparison review

Pros

  • Carry more passengers and people. The SUV is our car of choice for a weekend away — certainly one that involves luggage.
  • More planted and less likely to be thrown around on bad roads.
  • Possibly safer in an accident.
  • Future-proof. You may not have kids yet, but one day you might! Better to think ahead and invest in a family car now.

Are bigger engines better?

Cons

  • Less fuel efficient. I’m always filling up the SUV, whereas the Jimny runs on the smell of an oily rag
  • Tricky to park. How many desirable spots have you relinquished because your car is too long to fit into that damned spot?
  • Tricky to manoeuvre in city driving. Ever tried the ten-point-turn at the school drop off war zone? It’s hell on wheels and made more difficult in a larger vehicle.
  • More likely to get damaged. Those public car park spaces are tight. I’ve even contemplated getting out via the boot to save banging my door on an equally huge vehicle parked too close next me.

Toyota Kluger boot space

So there you have it; the good and bad of big and small. It’s important to consider the vehicle best suited to your family and your lifestyle. Clearly, one size does not fit all.