Best large family cars

Last updated: Jan 15, 2014

Large family cars need to offer plenty of space, low running costs, and enough power to haul around a heavy load from time-to-time. But they also need to be affordable and robust enough to cope with the day-to-day demands of family life.

It wasn’t so long ago that this category was dominated by cars from Ford and Vauxhall, but that's no longer the case. Brands like Skoda, Hyundai and Mazda have produced some incredible family cars in recent years, and the class is now one of the most competitive around.

And models in the family car class are no longer the only cars suitable for coping with transporting a partner and children. There are plenty of MPVs and SUVs that offer superb practicality and running costs. While many of the best large executive cars double up as fantastic family vehicles.

We’ve listed our Top 10 Large Family Cars below, but you should also take a look at our list of the Best Large MPVs, Best 4x4s and SUVs and Best Large Executive Cars.

Skoda Octavia estate

The Skoda Octavia estate is one of the most accomplished cars on the Carbuyer.co.uk at the moment. It’s got it all from stylish looks inside and out to fast and frugal engines, decent levels of standard equipment, a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and formidable build quality. In fact, the Octavia finished sixth out of 150 models in our Driver Power 2013 owner satisfaction survey. If you need to rein in the costs, the 1.6-litre TDI diesel is the best option – managing 74.3mpg and sub-100g/km CO2 emissions. Read more.

Key points

5.0 / 5
Price 
£17,115 - £28,665

Mazda6 Tourer estate

The Mazda 6 is a very comfortable car to travel in – thanks a quiet cabin and suspension that does a good job of absorbing lumps and bumps. It's also fun to drive, well equipped, and economical, too. The most frugal model is the 2.2-litre diesel, which returns economy of 68.9mpg and emissions of 108g/km, while also managing 0-60mph in just nine seconds. The Mazda gets a five-star Euro NCAP rating and the firm finished an impressive sixth in our Driver Power 2013 survey. Read more.

Key points

4.9 / 5
Price 
£21,315 - £28,295

Skoda Superb estate

If space is your main concern, then we'd recommend the Skoda Superb estate. Rear-passenger legroom is particularly impressive and the interior is extremely quiet, even at fast motorway speeds. The most economical version is the Skoda Superb GreenLine, which can manage 67.3mpg and emissions of 109g/km - making for a great all-round choice. With a five-star Euro NCAP rating, the Superb also scores well for safety and came an excellent second place in our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£19,815 - £34,575

Skoda Octavia hatchback

If you don’t need the extra space of the Octavia Estate than you could save around £800 by choosing a Skoda Octavia hatchback. It still gives you plenty of space, the same solid build quality, excellent reliability and decent levels of equipment for the money. There’s a good choice of petrol and diesel engines and the most economical gets 74.3mpg and is exempt from paying road tax. Some may find the looks a bit conservative and the suspension edges on the firm side, but overall it is an excellent large family car. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£16,310 - £27,805

Hyundai i40 estate

Hyundai has built some class-leading cars in the past few years and the Hyundai i40 Estate is no different. It's geared toward comfort rather than being lots of fun to drive - so we would avoid the large 18-inch wheels, which increase road noise and make the suspension less comfortable. The Hyundai offers plenty of space for five passengers plus their luggage, and the cabin is also equipped with reclining rear seats, air conditioning, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. The Hyundai can manage up to 66mpg, emissions of 113g/km, and has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, too. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£20,355 - £27,415

Kia Optima saloon

The Kia Optima make it stand out from the crowd, and actually give it the look of a far more expensive Lexus or Mercedes. The Optima is fun to drive, too, although it is worth avoiding the larger 18-alloy wheels, which make the suspension less comfortable. The interior is also a bit noisier than we would hope, but a five-star Euro NCAP rating means it is safe for you and your family. The Kia is only available with a 1.7-litre diesel engine, which returns 57.6mpg and emissions of 128g/km, but it's smooth and economical - even at motorway speeds. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£19,995 - £27,350

Volkswagen Passat saloon

If you appreciate a well-built cabin that’s logical to use and a joy to look at, then family cars don’t come much better than the Volkswagen Passat. Although its cabin may not be the most spacious on this list, it is still a decent size and is more than capable of taking four passengers, while the boot is even bigger than in the Ford Mondeo. The diesel engines are refined and the most frugal version can manage 68.9mpg, with emissions of 109g/km. Less impressive is the VW’s mid-table placing in our Driver Power Survey 2013, but the Passat does get a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£20,375 - £27,885

Ford Mondeo hatchback

If you want a big family car that is fun to drive then trying out a Ford Mondeo should be a priority. It is one of the best cars to drive in its class, but also very comfortable to travel in. The most economical Mondeo can return 57.6mpg and has emissions of 112g/km, and the car’s size means there is plenty of space for passengers. The Mondeo gets a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP and finished a reasonable 56th (out of 150 cars) in our 2013 Driver Power survey. Read more.

Key points

4.0 / 5
Price 
£20,000 - £30,070

Citroën C5 Tourer estate

The Citroen C5 has the most comfortable suspension in its class, while the top-of-the-range Citroen C5 Exclusive comes with laminated windows, which cut out wind and road noise, and air suspension that is even more cosseting than the standard setup. The C5 is only available with diesel engines, but they suit the car and return up to 62.4mpg and emissions as low as 117g/km. Although the C5 has a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, it didn’t score well in our 2013 Driver Power Survey coming 139th out of 150 cars. Read more.

Key points

4.0 / 5
Price 
£22,570 - £28,280

Vauxhall Insignia hatchback

The Vauxhall Insignia made huge improvements on the Vauxhall Vectra when it was replaced in 2008. However, although it may look stylish on the outside, the logical interior lacks a certain visual appeal. Although generally very comfortable inside, the sloping roofline means that headroom can be tight for rear-seat passengers. All Insignias have a five-star Euro NCAP award for safety, and there's a range of economical engines - although it came a disappointing 98th out of 150 cars in our Driver Power 2013 survey. Read more.

Key points

3.5 / 5
Price 
£16,534 - £28,359

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