So, the good news? You’re having a baby! The bad news? People have started snickering and handing you brochures about minivans.

Let’s face it, becoming a parent is one of the biggest changes you will ever face. Your life will never be the same. Neither will your car.

One of the changes that stems from that new addition is how you get from Point A to Point B and the type of vehicle you need to handle all of your new passenger’s needs. To that end, our FamilyFocus series will guide you through the life cycle of family vehicle ownership – from that first positive pregnancy test (DO WE NEED A MINIVAN ALREADY?) to that teenager in the front seat, learning to drive.

As Chief Family Advisor for PC insurance, and columnist for Autofocus.ca, but most importantly a mom of four kids, I am pleased to be your guide through this series which should provide you with pretty much everything you need to know about family auto management, whether you’re raising a sub-compact or sport utility sized family.

Purchasing a car is probably the second most expensive purchase you will make, after buying a home. Doing your research into what fits your lifestyle and your budget only makes sense.

Take the time now, before the baby arrives and your schedule is not your own, to figure out what you need from a family car. Those nine months can fly by and before you know it, you’re carrying your wee one out of the hospital in your sparkling new government approved car seat. (Check our Car Seats 101 video for full details on what to do when you get to your car.)

Those previously mentioned minivans tend to get a bad rap (my kids call them “Loser Cruisers”) some of it justified (they are heavy on fuel) and some of it not (convenience with a large family cannot be overlooked).

But guess what, you don’t always have to go straight to the minivan or the huge SUV when you have that first, second, or even third child. In fact, with a growing family, what you really want to do is find the most cost and fuel efficient car that can handle the extra car seats and baby equipment. Many cars now include a rear seat split of either 50/50 or 40/60, allowing for ample storage room.

You may want to say so long to those sporty coupes though. A car with four doors, rather than two, is much easier to get a baby car seat in and out of the vehicle. And you will be taking it in, and out often, particularly with a baby and you need the portability of the car seat. Many small hatchbacks come with four doors, folding rear seats and have terrific storage space in the back.

It’s advisable to take the car seat you are planning on using with you to the car dealership before purchasing the car. Make sure you can load it in and out easily and that there is room for a toddler seat as well (borrow one from a friend to test space.)

Minivans aren’t only more expensive to run; they are also much more difficult to park if you live in an urban area or drive downtown on a regular basis.

The key is thinking ahead and planning for the years you are anticipating keeping that car. And while accidents do happen off the road as well, family planning should include vehicular considerations.

We invite you to drive-thru the twelve videos in our series, and hope to hear from you about your own family-focused driving experiences.