Family Focus – 5 Tips to Easier Journeys
The focus has been a big seller for years, and with good reason. Its combination of reasonable pricing, space, choice and driver engagement has gone down well with buyers. A typical family hatchback, with ample space for 5, even if they are quite large and full of alcohol. But what exactly makes it a great family car? What is the criteria if you’re looking for one? Allow me to ease your pain, focus on the family car with these 5 simple tips:
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A family vehicle needs to be able to take on the best that children can throw at at it. Quite literally in some cases. Children by default are experts at the forgotten art of dismantling anything that’s placed in front of them. They are masters at grabbing objects and attempting to move them in every direction except the intended one. This means that the family car needs to be robust, otherwise the interior life expectancy will be measured in metres and not years. Luckily, it seems that Ford have heard of children, and the Focus really can take a beating. All the controls feel solid, well attached and chunky. This means it’s not only more difficult for a child to destroy, but easier to operate when the kids aren’t present.
Any child that feels constricted in anyway will soon make you aware of this. Intelligent use of space is one of the cornerstones of the family car. It’s easy to make a car interior large and spacious when the exterior dimensions are large. But if you want extra space but still have a relatively modest footprint, we need to get smarter. No child wants to have to do an entire journey sat too close to their siblings. Seats that allow for ample junior social distancing are the way forward. Placing wheels at each corner of the car, minimising the overhangs and maximising interior space. A long wheel base maximises both stability and interior space, and the Focus score well on both counts.
Any journey longer than about 5 minutes will prompt a child to want to see out, investigating if the road is greyer on the other side. Large windows make a huge difference to the feel of any interior. Letting in more natural light improves the ambience and makes it feel more welcoming, which is settling for kids and adults. And when the car is empty of its occupants, bigger windows can also make the car easier to park without any bumps, thus reducing costs too. The standard focus doesn’t do too badly here, but the angle of the rear window does sometimes make it difficult to judge exactly how far back to go if you’re not used to it. The windows aren’t the largest but still allow a good amount of light in.
It’s well know that kids (and occasionally adults) need to be occupied on long journeys. Boredom leads to complaints, arguments, and sometimes, being left on the side of the road to fend for yourself. And when people get bored, be in no doubt that they will start to communicate with you as a driver if all else fails. A survey a few years ago claimed that 80% of parents found driving with their kids more distracting than without them. This is a shocking statistic: why isn’t it 100%?! Who are the 20 odd % of parents that don’t find driving with children more distracting? A child that can’t sufficiently distract their parents on a long journey really needs to go away and improve this key skill.
To be honest, the Focus doesn’t score terribly well on the sort of features that children need. There is no playground, there’s no sweets on tap, not even a games console. So any children travelling are likely to feel short changed and you are in for a long journey of negotiation. Your best option is to tire out any potentially noisy occupants before the journey begins, and the Focus has a smooth enough ride and comfortable enough seats to be able to gently send people to sleep. Some much needed peace and quiet finally.
Last, but possibly most important. This is the reason behind many buying SUVs. When it comes to family, safety isn’t compromised. If only most people knew that most normal cars are generally no less safe than SUVs, and less likely to topple over if one needs to take evasive action.
So the normal Focus doesn’t completely tick all the boxes as an ideal family car, but it does enough for most. Luckily for buyers, there are plenty of other choices available for those who transport on a more regular basis. What’s your criteria for a great family car? What would you add to this list? Join the family, reap the benefits and let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!