Best Family Cars

13 minutes Published: 07/07/2021

When you start to rely on your car to carry your kids, dog and all the bits and bobs of family life, getting a family car just makes sense. Chances are you’ve already thought about this - we don’t need to tell you what a nightmare it is trying to fit a child seat into your old supermini. If your priorities have changed then it’s time to change your car.

Whether you’re after more boot space for the pram or some comfortable back seats that can take whatever the kids throw at it, we’re sure you’ll find what you’re looking for in our list of the best family cars below.

Here you’ll find a mix of high quality hatchbacks, crossovers, SUVs and small cars - all are rated the max 5 Stars for Euro NCAP (unless otherwise stated), isofix compatible and should serve you well on the school run.

Got enough kids to start your own basketball team? Check out our best 7 seater cars and our best people carriers. Do you also have a furry friend that likes to tag alone? See our best cars for dogs!

1. Audi A3 Sportback

RRP: £23,070 - £45,670
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 3.2
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 250g/km

The Audi A3 Sportback is a family hatchback with a great driving position and impressive fuel economy of between 65.7 and 235.4mpg depending on your engine choice.

At its best when it comes to the interior - the A3’s front seats have lots of legroom and the back seats are comfortable for three adults so older children should have no problem. The boot fits six carry on bags - the same as the BMW 1 Series, but it’s still smaller than the Skoda Octavia Hatchback.

Although it’s one of the more expensive cars on the list, you do get a lot at entry level. The basic trim comes with a 10 inch touchscreen infotainment system and integrated sat nav. It looks great but the touchscreen is difficult to navigate while driving.

Something to bear in mind though, Audi does not have the best reliability score - it’s better than Mercedes but not as good as BMW or even makes like Mazda and Ford.

We've done a few posts comparing the Audi A3 to other popular family car models. See our BMW 1 Series vs Audi A3, Audi A3 vs Golf, SEAT Leon vs Audi A3, and Audi A1 vs A3 posts!

2. BMW 1 Series

RRP: £24,205 - £40,090
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 3.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 226g/km

It’s a popular misconception that family cars offer a dull driving experience but no one can say that about the BMW 1 Series. Sharp handling and a front wheel drive make the model feel sporty and limits floatiness on winding roads - great for kids prone to car sickness.

The model’s build quality is also excellent. As you would expect with BMW, the interior feels expertly crafted with similar boot space to the A3. Depending on the trim, you get a touchscreen or rotary directed infotainment and we suggest picking the latter - it’s miles easier to manage while driving and the system feels more intuitive than Mercedes and Audi’s.

The basic trim will get you cruise control and automatic lights/wipers though it’s not as extensive as the A3. But if you value longevity more than extras, the 1 Series has one of the higher reliability scores in its class.

3. Skoda Octavia Hatchback (2017)

RRP: £17,000 - £30,970
  • Doors:
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  • Fuel:
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Those who favour practicality will find a lot to love in the Skoda Octavia - particularly its cavernous class leading boot and its spacious back seats.

Like the Scala Hatchback and Superb Hatchback, Skoda have worked their space optimising magic with the Octavia but that’s not the model’s only strength. It also boasts a fuel efficiency of anywhere between 42.22 and 235.4 mpg, depending on whether you go for an ICE or hybrid engine.

The interior feels plush as well - adjustable lumbar support for the driver and a touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone connectivity are standard.

Unfortunately, central controls for temperature and air conditioning are located at the bottom of the touchscreen which is hard to see and adjust while driving. The Octavia’s ride with its softer suspension is also best suited to the motorway so it’s not the great over undulating roads.

4. Ford Focus Hatchback

RRP: £17,730 - £34,835
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.5
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 237g/km

One of the most economical cars on the market today, the Ford Focus Hatchback is a mainstay on UK roads.

With this model, Ford expertly balances driving experience with fuel efficiency - depending on your engine choice, the Focus could give you up to 67.3mpg without a hybrid!

It’s quiet to drive and with a stiffer suspension than the VW Golf and Toyota Corolla, the Focus is also one of the most comfortable rides. The comfort extends to the back seats - there’s even more space than the Octavia so you won’t be hearing any complaints from lanky teenagers.

While the boot is smaller than the Octavia’s, it’s serviceable and should fit about six carry-on bags.

Ford’s infotainment system leaves little to be desired though - it’s clunky with cheaper looking graphics than other cars of its price range. Thankfully, phone mirroring is a standard feature so you can somewhat avoid using the stock interface.

5. Peugeot 3008 Estate (2016)

RRP: £21,740 - £46,695
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
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  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Like the Peugeot 2008, one of the best small SUVs around, the Peugeot 3008 is a great option for families. With fuel economy of 60.8 for ICE cars and 222 mpg for hybrid, and an interior that’s got quite a bit of upmarket styling, Peugeot offers a nice blend of practicality and indulgence in the 3008.

At entry level, you get a good bit of kit which includes rear parking sensors, bright LED headlights and an array of soft interior materials. You get an infotainment system that supports phone connectivity on all but the entry level trim which is unfortunate because Peugeot’s own system is a bit slow to use.

While the backseats are quite comfortable and should be good for adults and older children, the 3008’s boot is exceptional. It can easily fit a pram or some hefty suitcases and the height-adjustable boot floor is standard - making it super accessible.

6. Volkswagen Golf Hatchback

RRP: £23,070 - £39,075
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 3.2
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 278g/km

Volkswagen struck gold with this one. The Volkswagen Golf Hatchback is a standby when it comes to small family cars and is one of the most economical cars with MPG between 62.8 and 176.6 depending on your engine choice.

It’s not the cheapest on the list but the entry level trim is one of the better kitted - adaptive cruise control, height adjustable boot floor and visibility and parking aids are just some of the standard features. If getting a car that is as cheap as chips is more important than fancy features, browse this list of the best cheap cars.

The Golf also offers a pretty comfortable ride that’s perfect for nipping around town and managing motorways. It’s also highly rated for passenger safety.

Space is where the Golf does not do so well - while you can fit a weekly shop in the boot, the Golf is easily outdone by the Skoda Scala which is a smaller car. The infotainment system could also use some review - the touchscreen is big and bright but the menus are weirdly arranged and the software is buggy even with smartphone mirroring.

For a competitive Volkswagen Golf Hatchback lease deal, look no further than Lease Fetcher! We've gathered market-leading Volkswagen lease deals to make your search for new set of wheels easy.

7. Mercedes A Class Hatchback

RRP: £22,630 - £37,425
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.1
  • Fuel: D, P, H
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 197g/km

One of most economical cars, the Mercedes A Class Hatchback is a great balance of luxury and pragmatism.

While the A Class is more expensive than its Audi and BMW counterparts, it is ranked the safest. Achieving fuel economy between 62.8 and 256.8mpg depending on your engine choice, you can also enjoy some decent fuel savings.

It’s super comfortable with tons of space in the front and back. The rear has a lower hump across the centre of the floor so even the middle back seat passenger can stretch out a bit. The boot is average for its class.

Mercedes has furnished the A Class with a softer suspension, making it feel buttery smooth over long stretches of road. But it can suffer from the same issue as the Octavia - you might feel some float on roads that rise and fall.

Mercedes also has a pretty low reliability score so if longevity is important, this is something to consider.

8. Jaguar XF Sportbrake (2017)

RRP: £39,580 - £49,685
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Estate
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is for drivers after a family friendly option that does not compromise on drive feel. One of the best estate cars around, you’ll find it has the brilliant handling Jaguar is known for. Lots of visibility and good grip make the XF feel fun and sporty to drive.

The family should also be fairly pleased - there’s ample room up front and although 3 tall adults may find the back seats somewhat cramped, children and shorter adults should be fine.

While the boot is a decent size but somewhat hard to load, the XF’s main issue is its lack of economy. If you value longevity then it’s also important to note that the XF and Jaguar did not score well when it came to reliability - finishing behind Mercedes and Audi.

It’s not the most practical option but you and the fam will enjoy taking it out for a spin.

9. Kia Ceed Hatchback

RRP: £18,075 - £28,750
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 171g/km

The Kia Ceed Hatchback is practical and roomy and who’s going to turn their nose up at that class leading warranty, right?

Well, it’s a matter of perspective - drivers looking for a smooth ride and great fuel savings may not be particularly impressed by the Ceed but if you’re looking to get some bang for your buck in terms of features, read on.

At entry level, Kia offers a lot - driver’s seat adjustability, built-in sat nav, smartphone mirroring and height adjustable boot floor. Passengers, especially tall passengers, should be happy in this car and if you’re looking for good but not exceptional storage - the boot is decently sized and easy to access.

It’s important to mention though that the Ceed fared the worst on this list when it comes to safety - but it did earn an alright 4 stars Euro NCAP safety rating and you do get some decent driver aids.

10. Range Rover Estate

RRP: £84,810 - £177,485
  • Doors: 2 - 4
  • Engine: 5.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 398g/km

There’s a reason why Land Rover often dominates lists on the best 4x4 cars. They know what they’re doing and the Land Rover Range Rover Estate is no exception. It’s a handsome four-wheel drive that’s great for adventurous families who love off-roading.

It’s a premium vehicle that offers comfort for all passengers with wide seats and plush interior materials. The boot is ginormous too - you could easily fit two buggies in there or a great dane. All trims come with air suspension which lets you raise or lower the car at the press of a couple buttons - allowing the Range Rover to alternately tackle tough terrain or a trip to the shops.

There are a couple drawbacks though, those looking for some fuel savings are better looking elsewhere and while the Range Rover doesn’t have the worst reliability score, it’s not great.

If you're keen on a Land Rover lease deal, we've rounded up the market leading offers for you to compare with ease!

11. Mazda Cx-5

RRP: £23,440 - £36,235
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.2
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 152g/km

The Mazda CX-5 is a large SUV with a stiff suspension that handles really well. Riding position is higher than other family SUVs like the Peugeot 3008 and it’s pretty comfortable to drive on long journeys.

The standard infotainment system is one of the best on the list with built in sat nav and smartphone integration. The software is arguably more intuitive than premium models like the Audi A3. The quality of the interior is where this Mazda model probably shines the most - solid construction and a well chosen mix of materials give the car a much more upmarket feel.

Space is not the best here though. While tall passengers shouldn’t have problems fitting in the front and back - for an SUV of its size, the space provision is disappointing and the CX-5 is easily outshone by others in its class. Those hoping for some good economy will also not be that impressed.

12. Toyota Corolla Saloon

RRP: £23,600 - £26,060
  • Doors: 4
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 190g/km

Today, the Toyota Corolla Saloon is one of the best hybrid cars on the market. With its self-charging hybrid engine, all the hassle of going electric is gone - you and your family can feel a little better and enjoy those tax breaks with one of the lowest emissions cars.

That’s not the Corolla’s only strength though - the standard model is packed with goodies like LED headlights, a punchy six-speaker stereo and various driver aids. Phone mirroring is also standard which is good because the touchscreen infotainment system is slow to respond.

Armed with a softer suspension, the Corolla also offers one of the most comfortable rides in its class - great for gentle driving.

Boot size depends on the engine you choose and Toyota doesn’t offer an adjustable boot floor. The Corolla’s main shortcoming is its rear space - if your backseat passengers are short then it’s fine but anyone approaching six feet probably won’t have a great time.

13. Vauxhall Astra Hatchback

RRP: £18,660 - £28,180
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.2
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 227g/km

The Vauxhall Astra is great for families looking for a cheap but spacious option with decent economy.

The space up front can accommodate adults well over six feet. The Astra’s wide body also gives backseat passengers ample shoulder room and the centre hump is positioned lower to the ground to cater to the middle passenger.

Boot space is fine but not amazing. As Vauxhall has priced the Astra significantly lower than the VW Golf and Ford Focus, you get a lot of car for your money.

On the downside, the entry level trim does not come with automatic emergency braking and the Astra has yet to go through the most recent Euro NCAP safety tests which are more strict now so it’s difficult to see how it compares to its rivals. The Astra also doesn’t have the best reliability score, performing worse than the Golf, Civic and Octavia.

14. Volvo XC40

RRP: £24,700 - £43,090
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H, E
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 166g/km

While the Volvo XC90 is often on the list of best SUVs, it’s the Volvo XC40 that won the 2018 European Car of the Year. It’s well deserved as this compact SUV is quite the all rounder.

Get into the nitty gritty and you’ll see that the XC40 scored top marks across the board thanks in part to its extensive safety kit which Volvo offers on all trims.

Boot space is tremendous and the rear can seat three comfortably but the back seats are unfortunately split 60/40 rather than the more convenient 40/20/40. While the tablet-like touchscreen infotainment system is attractive it’s a faff to manage while driving.

The XC40 can be pretty efficient depending on your engine, offering up to 134.5mpg. The model is only available with mild hybrid or plug-in hybrid engines though so it’s also worth considering if you’re ready to go electric.

15. Honda Civic Hatchback

RRP: £18,180 - £35,015
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.2
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 215g/km

The Honda Civic has a long history - maybe it was even your parent’s family car of choice. Today, it’s still a good bet.

At entry level, Honda offers extensive safety features like adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors - you’ll not only be safer but driving will feel easier. The Civic also shines in the boot department - storage is larger than the VW Golf and is easy to access.

For a car of its size that’s powered by a petrol engine, the Civic was one of the most economical cars but compared to the others on the list that are going hybrid, the Civic’s fuel efficiency is nothing special.

The Honda Civic’s infotainment system also needs work - you’ll have to opt for the SR trim to get phone mirroring which lets you bypass it. It’s laggy and difficult to navigate.

16. Hyundai I30 Hatchback (2017)

RRP: £16,780 - £28,885
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 94 - 178g/km

With the Ioniq making waves as one of the best electric cars, Hyundai has become known for making cars that feel good and stand the test of time. The Hyundai i30 Hatchback is no exception - there’s bags of room up front and unless you’re raising some future basketball players, the kids should feel pretty comfortable in the back.

While the boot is average, the i30 has an above average 5 year warranty that includes roadside assistance. This suggests that the car is unlikely to break down but if it does, help is at hand.

Although driving the i30 is nothing to write home about, this is a ride that passengers will appreciate - it’s quiet with a soft suspension that lends a more supple experience.

Summary

Whether you’re just starting to grow your family or are looking to swap your old family car for a new car that better suits your older children’s needs, in our list of the best family cars, we’ve tried to include a car that should fit every family’s lifestyle and budget.

There are some things that all families value though and that’s safety and practicality.

We know that when you’re travelling with your loved ones, safety comes first and that’s why almost every car on this list has a 5 Star Euro NCAP score.

A family car should also be able to meet your basic practical needs - whether that’s low running costs, large boot space, roomy rear seats, seven-seater, and/or a comfortable ride - the cars in the list above should shine in one if not more of these areas.

If you're considering leasing your next car, let Car Lease Fetcher help! We help people compare car lease deals from brokers across the UK. See our personal car lease deals, or our family car lease deals specifically, to see how much money you can save with us!