Best Family Cars

8 minutes Published: 12/03/2020

You stare wistfully at her, knowing that this is the last time you'll ever see her. 

Handing over the keys, you think of all the good times. 

This wasn't just any Ford Fiesta ST - this was yours.

You spare a passing glance at your children before one more pleading look to your partner. She's not having it. 

Softly, you whisper to the ST "I tried..." 

And you did. You tried every trick in the book to keep her:

"Sure, the 3 seats makes the child seats a bit cramped, but they'll live!"

"Honestly, it's very safe when I actually stay under the speed limit!"

Face it. She's gone, my friend. You're not 18 any more and it's time for a sensible car. A family-friendly car. 

Now, just because you need a family car doesn't mean you must become your unbelievably boring father.

So, put down the Ben and Jerry's and stop feeling sorry for yourself, because there’s a huge number of incredible family cars on the market just waiting to help you get over that old, impractical Fiesta.

Got a bigger than average family? Check out our Best 7 Seater Cars, or even our Best MPVs and People Carriers! If you fancy a more trendy body style, consider some of our Best SUV Cars!

1. Volkswagen Golf Hatchback

RRP: £17,570 - £37,245 | From £239.39 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 3.2
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 278g/km

Pros

  • Cabin quality is fantastic.

  • A refined and smooth drive.

Cons

  • More expensive than rivals.

  • Some will find the 'refined' experience a bit dull.

The Golf could probably serve the needs of 99% of the motoring public - it's just that versatile. 

With a practical and stylish hatchback body, the Golf has a decent amount of interior and boot space without being awkwardly big to drive.The Golf is definitely a more upmarket and expensive option than something like the Focus or an Astra. You trade a bit of fun factor in for elegance and refinement because of this.

Don't get it twisted though, while the VW Golf is a great family car, it's also a fun car to drive. The petrol engines meet the high performance expectations we've come to expect with Volkswagen.

2. Ford Focus Hatchback

RRP: £17,730 - £31,585 | From £208.28 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.5
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 237g/km

Pros

  • An unmatched driving experience at this price point. Low running costs.

  • New model looks brilliant inside and out.

Cons

  • Infotainment system isn't as good as competitors.

  • Some interior materials feel a bit cheap.

The Focus is the 3rd best selling car in the UK, just behind the Golf and its little bro, the Fiesta. 

Ford knows how to make a car fun to drive. In fact, the Focus might actually offer the best driving experience in its class.

The Focus is truly an all-rounder and its excellent performance doesn't come at the cost of practicality. The Focus has plenty of rear legroom, so even fairly tall adults won't have a problem getting comfortable in the back. 

It's also super easy to fit a child seat, and the Ecoboost engines gives you a great fuel economy - there's virtually no downsides to picking up a Focus!

3. Skoda Superb Hatchback

RRP: £18,585 - £40,525 | From £228.19 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 3.6
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 32 - 235g/km

Pros

  • Basic models are great value for money.

  • Wide range of engines to fit your needs.

Cons

  • Some will find the design boring and a bit like being in an Uber.

  • The trims with the best tech are quite expensive.

The Superb is another well-received hit for Skoda. 

The Superb in it's estate form is a great large family car, but it's also available in a more compact but still practical family hatchback. 

Definitely taking some style tips from the parent company Volkswagen, Skoda has successfully crafted a really elegant and upmarket car. 

Don't be fooled though, the Superb isn't a boring affair. The performance engine option offers a pretty beefy acceleration. Maybe a bit unnecessary for dropping the kids off at school, but it can't hurt, can it?

4. Audi A3 Sportback (2016)

  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • Great fun to drive.

  • Lots of engine options.

Cons

  • A lot pricier than rivals.

  • The automatic gearbox is fine on the motorway but a bit jumpy in town.

The latest Audi A3 looks like the old Audi A3. This isn't a bad thing. Audi has a philosophy of evolution before revolution, and they put this into action with the A3. 

As usual, the German manufacturer has ensured that the A3 looks incredible inside and out. 

With sleek angles in all the right places, there's not many who will argue that the A3 isn't a beautiful looking car. Whether you prefer the classic saloon, or the athletic looking sportback, there’s something for everyone. 

The A3 has a big boot and enough space for the little ones to be comfortable and content. Although, the projectile vomit of an infant will definitely ruin the elegant vibe of the A3. You've been warned.

5. Vauxhall Astra Hatchback

RRP: £15,240 - £29,245 | From £182.56 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.2
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 227g/km

Pros

  • Much cheaper than rivals.

  • Good fun to drive.

Cons

  • Styling isn’t as fancy or as upmarket as competitors.

  • Could be more spacious.

Just as a Focus is basically a big Fiesta, the Astra can be considered a big Corsa. 

However, the Astra is actually a good bit cheaper than the Focus these days, and presents some outstanding value for money. 

Recent models have really upped the interior and exterior looks, and the Astra can compete with most rivals in the aesthetic department. 

With a pretty good infotainment system and driver assistance technology on hand, the Astra is a great choice if you don't care for posh interiors and fancy badges. 

6. Peugeot 3008

RRP: £21,740 - £46,695 | From £262.18 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 36 - 182g/km

Pros

  • Cabin has been really well designed.

  • Handles really well and the diesel engine is efficient.

Cons

  • SUV model doesn't have a four-wheel drive option.

  • The colourful looks won’t be to everyone’s taste.

Available in a fashionable SUV body or as a classic hatchback, the 3008 is a really nice looking family car. Peugeot have opted for a more colourful and playful look than their rivals, with bold paint options and sharp roof angles.

Family life at home can be boring enough without having to drive to work in a grey, square box on wheels. We think Peugeot pulls it off, but you be the judge. 

The French manufacturer has put a lot of effort into improving their interior and it looks fantastic, with all digital displays and great tech everywhere you look.

If you want a family car that looks a little different, or you fancy the better driving position that comes with an SUV, then the Peugeot 3008 is a brilliant option that won’t break the bank.

7. Volvo Xc40 Estate

RRP: £24,700 - £42,250 | From £254.81 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 166g/km

Pros

  • Cabin design is truly excellent.

  • Safety features are phenomenal.

Cons

  • Automatic gearbox could be a lot better.

  • Engine is a bit noisy.

Another compact SUV, the Volvo XC40 sticks with a fairly vanilla formula, not taking too many risks.

To be fair, Volvo doesn't need to. The Swedish manufacturer is a desirable brand, due to how seriously they take luxury features - the XC40 lives up to this reputation.

The cabin looks phenomenal, and the high ride height makes the daily commute or even (God forbid) a long-journey family holiday less stressful. 

Volvo's safety features are class-leading, so you can feel comforted that your little ones are as safe as possible in the rear seats. Of course all of this comes at a price, and the XC40 is an expensive option. If luxury is a big deal to you, and you can afford it, then the XC40 is a great family car option.

8. Hyundai I30 Hatchback

RRP: £16,780 - £28,885 | From £223.12 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 94 - 178g/km

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable driving experience.

  • One of the most affordable options on our list.

Cons

  • Not as fun or as charming as competitors like the Focus.

  • Some interior materials can feel a bit cheap.

Hyundai makes sensible cars that are easy to live with, and the i30 is no different. Not too 'out there' in it's design, but not too posh either, the i30 has a perfectly neutral design that's hard to love or hate. 

With three turbo charged engine options, you're not driving a boring car though. In fact, the i30 has a performance model, the i30 N, which is a seriously good hot hatch to even rival the likes of Focus RS and Golf GTI.

Of course, the i30 has all the practical stuff too. With lots of room to fit an Isofix chair without too many expletives, the i30 is an excellent family car at an affordable price. 

9. Kia E-niro Electric Estate

RRP: £37,940 - £37,940 | From £314.74 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: N/A
  • Fuel: E
  • Body: Estate
  • Drive: A
  • CO2:

Pros

  • SUV body style is practical and roomy.

  • Entry-level kit is good value for money.

Cons

  • More expensive than other electrics and petrol-based family cars.

  • Home charging isn't that fast (yet).

If you're environmentally conscious and looking for an electric car that also functions perfectly well as a family car, look no further than the Kia E-Niro.

The fully electric version of the well-reviewed Niro, the E-Niro is a brilliant family SUV. With a great driving range, you don't have to worry about charging up every time you come back from the school run. 

Unlike some other electric cars, the E-Niro is a really classy looking affair, and doesn't scream and shout about it's electric capabilities in a way that makes it seem like a gimmick - it's subtle and pulls it off well.

10. Mercedes A Class Hatchback

RRP: £22,630 - £55,235 | From £228.52 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.1
  • Fuel: D, P, H
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 32 - 197g/km

Pros

  • The amount of tech on offer is incredible.

  • Lots of trim and engine options.

Cons

  • Incredibly expensive for such a small car.

  • Not as fun to drive as some rivals.

The first iteration of the A-Class was disappointing. It was super expensive and had the cheek to lack many of the features that makes a Mercedes feel like a Mercedes!

2018 brought a much needed update, and now the current gen A-Class is a beast. In fact, it might just be the most upmarket small family car available, with class-leading tech and unrivalled luxury. 

The car is stunning inside and oozes class and smug German engineering. The sporty exterior also works well for the A-Class, and the performance on the AMG models isn’t too shabby either. 

While not as practical as some rivals, the A-class still has lots of room for an Isofix child seat, and the boot is ample for a weekly family shop. What more do you want?!

Summary

Hopefully, we've convinced you that buying a family car doesn't need to be a miserable experience. Rejoice, as the days of practicality and fun being mutually exclusive are gone.

Our best family cars have a wide range of budgets to suit the needs of every family. It's incredible what a 'budget' car looks like these days. All of our best cars have a 5-Star Euro NCAP rating. 

However, we understand - having a family isn't easy. It can be stressful, and money can be tight. Finding £15k up front, or even getting accepted for a bank loan, can be a nightmare. 

So, if you need a new car, why not consider leasing? This lets you condense your car payment (including road tax) into affordable monthly payments.

If you’ve got an enormous family, check out our Best 7 Seater Cars, or even our Best MPVs and People Carriers! If you don’t need MPV-level space, consider some of our Best SUV Cars! And why not take a look at our full list of family car lease deals while you're at it!