Family car buyers are in a good position, whether they need an SUV or affordable hatchback, there is a great family car for everyone
Building the best family car is harder than you might think, mostly because motorists with kids (and the kids themselves) tend to ask a huge amount of these vehicles. That isn’t to say car makers are throwing in the towel, if anything, the choice facing family car buyers is greater than ever.
Buyers want their family cars to be reliable, affordable, comfy, spacious, well-made, full of helpful technology, cheap to run and more often than you’d think, easy on the eyes, too. Rarely are all of these achieved in a single vehicle so the typical family car search involves scouring the market for the best compromise. It all makes finding the best family car, large, small or medium-sized, just that bit harder.
• Best hatchbacks on sale
Which is where Auto Express comes in. We have analysed the market, looking at SUVs, saloons, hatchbacks and MPVs and come up with a definitive list of the best family cars on sale right now. Which, aside from anything else, shows that the days of mums and dads having to drive around in a three box saloons are well and truly over.
While a hatchback can provide a good mix of saloon and estatecharacteristics, SUV and crossover models can offer the higher driving position and soft-road capabilities motorists of today seem to crave.
The once revered family saloon is on a downhill slope in terms of sales with big cars of that ilk tending to offer hatch backed rears like those on the SUVs and crossovers that are in the ascendancy. The good-old estate car is still finding favour with some buyers and then of course you have the venerable MPV.
MPVs still offer the largest amount of cargo space for both family members and their many possessions. Often with van-based bloodlines, these versatile machines normally have seven seats and a boot big enough for each passenger to bring luggage. Not far behind, of course, are the largest of the SUV crowd, which offer more off-road ability than you’ll ever need, as well as more stylish looks.
Estates tend to have a more subtle look and a more composed driving experience than an SUV but they’re really just large family cars with rear extensions. Finally, the more traditional options like the Skoda Superb and Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport offer a similar mix of comfort, style, fuel economy and driving dynamics without quite as much space.
Without further ado then, below is our top 10 family cars…
Best family cars to buy in 2018
- 1. Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport
- 2. Skoda Superb
- 3. Toyota Prius
- 4. Volkswagen Golf
- 5. Skoda Karoq
- 6. Citroen C4 SpaceTourer
- 7. Hyundai Ioniq PHEV
- 8. Peugeot 3008
- 9. Skoda Octavia
- 10. Nissan Leaf
Family car buying advice
it’s important to break down the criteria that a family car needs to cover while considering your options.
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 available, 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.
How much room do the seats need to have? If you’ve got grown-up kids, it might not be enough to simply to 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 a more room. The same goes for larger family cars which 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 so 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.