What are the best family cars on sale? Whether you’re after an SUV or an affordable hatchback, our top 10 list reveals all…
Finding the best family car can be more challenging than you might think, given that both adult and child passengers tend to ask a huge amount of their car each and every day. Fortunately, car makers are facing up to the challenge, and buyers looking for their next family car are pretty spoilt for choice.
Family hatchbacks offer great fuel economy and plenty of space in a compact package, and the best examples are great all-rounders with a good mix of qualities. A number of buyers, though, will need the extra space of an SUV or estate. Here, as a rule, you get more rear legroom, a bigger boot and superior long-distance comfort, but you’ll pay a bit more to buy one and fuel economy might take a hit.
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For the ultimate in flexible interior space, you’ll want an MPV with either five or seven seats, but the modern trend in family cars leans very much towards SUV and crossover models. With these you get the higher driving position and easier access that comes from the elevated ride height. Some models even offer light off-road capabilities.
Our list includes something for everyone, with SUVs such as the Hyundai Tucson, more traditional MPVs such as the Dacia Jogger, and even fully-electric options such as the MG4.
Best family cars to buy
- Dacia Jogger
- Skoda Octavia
- Cupra Born
- Hyundai Tucson
- Kia Niro EV
- Toyota Corolla
- Citroen C5 X
- MG ZS EV
- Vauxhall Astra
1. Dacia Jogger
Seven seats, plenty of room for both adult and child passengers, up to 1,807 litres of cargo space, and low running-costs are just some of the many factors that bagged the Dacia Jogger the title of Family Car of the Year at our New Car Awards in 2022. What’s more, just when you might be thinking it can’t get any better, the Jogger’s pricing starts at less than £17,000.
In order to keep costs down, the Jogger is an example of function over form – which has resulted in its somewhat unusual but inoffensive appearance. Inside, the layout is simplistic compared with rivals’ interiors, but all trim levels offer a few creature comforts such as rear parking sensors, cruise control, air-conditioning, a DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. If you upgrade to the mid-level ‘Expression’ trim, this adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, modular roof bars, electrically adjustable door mirrors, front parking sensors, climate control and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
2. Skoda Octavia
The Skoda Octavia is a brilliant all-rounder that delivers on the essentials: competitive pricing, plenty of space and practicality, useful on-board tech and a range of efficient petrol, diesel and hybrid engines.
Take a walk round Skoda’s family hatch and you’ll notice the classy, clean design, while the interior quality is a huge plus point, too, and easily a match for more premium rivals. The plug-in hybrid Octavia iV is a particular winner; with the ability to travel up to 34 miles on electric power alone and CO2 emissions of just 22-33g/km. It also offers low running costs and huge tax savings for business users.
With a starting price of less than £24,000, the Octavia represents great value, while the 600-litre boot and huge passenger space make you feel that you’re driving a car from the class above. We love the Skoda’s robust quality, along with the comfort on offer and how easy it is to drive on a daily basis.
The MG4 is the brand’s latest model to enter the UK market and, with prices starting from less than £26,000, it is also one of the cheapest electric cars that you can currently buy. Even though it is a budget EV, the MG4 is a genuinely tempting alternative to more established rivals such as the Volkswagen ID.3. Similar levels of on-board technology are on offer in this cheaper car, along with impressive battery ranges of more than 200 miles and even a seven-year warranty.
Three versions of MG4 are available: SE, SE Long Range and Trophy Long Range. Both Long Range models feature a 64kWh battery that’s good for between 270-281 miles of range. The cheaper SE is fitted with a smaller 51kWh unit, but this still offers up to 218 miles between charges. All MG4s feature 150kW rapid charging, with a 10-80 per cent top-up for the bigger battery taking around 35 minutes.
4. Cupra Born
Hot hatches are some of the most beloved cars that money can buy, combining driving thrills and practicality in a package that doesn’t break the bank. For a long time the hot hatch has strictly been a petrol-powered affair, but Cupra’s first EV, the Born, is looking to change that.
The Cupra Born shares a number of components with its sister car, the Volkswagen ID.3, but it has been styled and fettled to be the more exciting model of the two. Features such as copper-coloured accents, alloy wheels, and striking LED lighting all go towards helping the Born stand out from the crowd. It’s not just a looker, though, because a 12-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, wireless smartphone mirroring, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and reversing camera are all fitted as standard.
5. Hyundai Tucson
With the fourth-generation Tucson, Hyundai set its sights on some of the more premium offerings in the hugely competitive mid-size SUV market. Striking and distinctive looks, plenty of standard equipment across the range and an overall sense of top build quality are just some of the features that have earned the Tucson the title of Mid-size SUV of the year at our New Car Awards for two years in a row.
It’s a great choice for the family, too, because some clever engineering has resulted in plenty of space for both front and rear passengers. There’s also room for their luggage, with a vast 620-litre boot at your disposal.
Although Hyundai has worked to make the Tucson more appealing to those in the market for a more premium SUV, prices aren’t too steep. A petrol-powered Tucson in SE Connect trim starts at just over £29,000, and comes with forward collision-avoidance assist, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, climate control and parking sensors all as standard.
6. Kia Niro EV
The Kira Niro EV recently entered the market to replace the highly-popular Kia e-Niro, and the new model continues the formula that made the first car such a good one. It’s easy to drive, offers an impressive amount of practicality, and is fitted with plenty of up-to-date tech.
Only one battery is currently available in the Niro EV, which helps to keep things simple. This 64.8kWh unit delivers up to 285 miles of range and can be rapid-charged in 45 minutes at a rate of 77kW. This all goes a long way towards making the Niro EV very easy to live with.
What’s more, there’s plenty of space for both front and rear passengers, along with a 451-litre boot for all their luggage. Mix this level of practicality with some potentially huge savings on running costs, and the Niro EV quickly starts to make sense as a family car.
7. Toyota Corolla
Toyota revived its famous Corolla nameplate for its latest family machine and, as with most of the brand’s current models, it’s only available as a hybrid. That means both engine options in the Corolla are assisted by a battery and electric motor set-up.
There’s a 2.0-litre petrol engine available, but we’d go for the 1.8-litre petrol for its higher efficiency potential. A move to Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) chassis means it’s surprisingly good to drive for an eco-focused car; but the powertrain doesn’t lend itself to such use, so the 1.8 makes more sense.
Interior room and the 361-litre boot are okay, but nothing more. Yet achievable efficiency of more than 50mpg is definitely an attractive figure, especially if you cover long distances on a regular basis.
8. Citroen C5 X
Citroen has long been famed for its quirky yet comfortable cruisers, and the C5 X is the latest model to follow this blueprint. Take one look at the C5 X and you’ll see that this unusual car is made up of a mixture of elements from luxury saloons, estates, and even SUVs, so it certainly stands out from the crowd.
Depending on your chosen trim level, the C5 X is available with either a 1.2 or 1.6-litre petrol engine or as a plug-in hybrid – with the latter offering up to 38 miles of electric range.
Whichever model you choose, Citroen’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension offers plenty of refinement. The PHEV does have the advantage here, though, because it also features active suspension. This system scans the road ahead and adjusts the dampers accordingly.
Step inside and a premium-feeling interior will welcome you, with materials that look and feel of a high quality, along with soft foam-filled seats. The SUV and estate influences pay off when it comes to passenger space, too, with plenty of room in both the front and rear. There’s also a 545-litre boot at your disposal, dropping to 485-litres in the PHEV.
9. MG ZS EV
When it was first introduced, the MG ZS EV quickly proved to UK drivers that a practical electric car with a battery range suitable for everyday use needn’t cost a small fortune.
While the latest ZS EV may look different on the outside from its predecessor, it retains the affordability and relative simplicity that makes it such a great choice for families looking to reduce their carbon footprint, with pricing starting at less than £30,000.
The 72.6kWh battery returns up to a claimed 273 miles of range, meaning that longer trips shouldn’t be an issue. If you do need to charge on the go, though, MG claims that the ZS EV can be rapid-charged from 0-80 per cent in little over an hour.
Along with some huge savings on fuel and tax costs, the MG ZS EV is by far one of the most practical electric cars in this price range. The SUV body means there is plenty of space for five passengers, along with a 470-litre boot with the seats up.
10. Vauxhall Astra
The Vauxhall Astra has been a common sight on UK roads for decades, and while SUVs may have knocked this family hatchback down slightly when it comes to sales, it should still be high on your list of potential family car purchases.
The latest Astra has taken a big leap forward in its design with much sharper angles and a front ‘Vizor’ – similar to the one found on other Vauxhalls such as the Mokka. This means it looks far more modern than its predecessor, and the improvements continue on the inside, too.
All versions of the Astra feature Vauxhall’s Pure Panel infotainment set-up as standard. This system consists of two 10-inch screens, with one covering media functions and the other acting as a digital instrument display for the driver. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both included, along with a voice-recognition system.
How to choose the best family car
It’s important to break down the criteria that a family car needs to cover while considering your options, so below we answer the most common questions.
How many seats do you need? A four or five-seater might be enough for your family, but there are seven-seaters available if you need them. There are even eight or nine-seaters on the market, too. Take a look at our dedicated pages for the best seven and eight-seater cars to find out more.
How often would you use seven seats? It’s worth considering how often you’ll travel seven-up. If a car is available with seven seats or five seats and a bigger boot, the latter might be a better buy if you won’t be using the third row that often.
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How much room do the seats need to have? If you’ve got grown-up kids, it might not be enough to simply have a car with two extra seats in the boot. The smallest seven-seaters will only have room in the rearmost row for small kids, so teenagers could be cramped in the back. And, of course, small kids grow, so if you’re planning on keeping a car for a long period, that should also be factored in.
How often would the family car be used? If you don’t use the car during the week and only need a family car at weekends, then you could go for something that has higher running costs than average just so you get the extra space you need. Likewise, if you’re using a family car for the school run, then you’re probably better off with something that’s a bit smaller, while kit such as parking sensors and cameras will be a bonus.
How much boot space do you need? A conventional hatchback might be big enough, but if not, estate versions of hatches offer more room. The same goes for larger family cars that are available as estates, while crossovers and SUVs have similar space, but their raised ride height mean they might be harder to load.
What about extras? If you go out and do activities, do you need to carry extra items such as bikes, skis or a canoe? If so, does the car you’re looking at have roof rails? If it does, is the roof low enough that you can lift items up there easily?
This is all worth considering, and once you have an idea of what kind of family car you want, take a look at our top 10 and see which ones we think are the best at the business of being family transport.
Need to transport a big family? Check out our list of the best seven-seater cars…
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