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Top 10 best used family cars 2024

If you're looking for a second-hand car to ferry your loved ones around in, here's our list of the best used family cars

The best used family cars hero

Not long ago the used family car of choice for UK buyers was the humble hatchback or saloon. Times have changed since then, and the range of family car bodystyles has diversified. Today you might find your budget will also put plenty of used estate cars and SUVs on the cards.

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This is good news for buyers, as the best family cars are those which offer the most practicality with plentiful front and rear passenger space, as well as a large boot to fit in the weekly shop, pushchairs and other family paraphernalia. SUVs have become one of the most popular car bodystyles in recent times, precise202ly because they tick so many of the aforementioned boxes, meaning there’s an ever-increasing number to choose from on the second-hand market.

Best family cars 2023Top 10 best family cars 2024

While SUVs have largely taken over from estate cars thanks to their higher ride height and road presence, they’re not for everyone. A used estate car is definitely worth your consideration if you prefer a more low-slung seating position and sharp driving experience – this body style can also be more affordable to buy due to lower demand, and sleek aerodynamics can even help cut your fuel bill.

If you’re regularly lifting kids in and out of the car in their child seats, you’ll appreciate that many of the cars listed below have wide-opening doors for easier access. If you’re looking to make the switch to an electric car, you’ll be pleased to know that the used family car market can cater to you, with cars like the Kia e-Niro now plentiful enough to regularly appear in the classifieds.

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If you’ve settled on a particular used family car bodystyle, check out our list of the best used SUVs, best used estate cars, or for even bigger families read our list of the best used seven-seaters. Looking for something a little smaller? Read our list of the best used small cars or best used small SUVs. Otherwise, read on to get the lowdown on our favourite used family cars from across the market.

Used Kia Sportage review: 2016 to 2021 (Mk4)

Kia Sportage SUV front 3/4 tracking
Carbuyer rating

3.6 out of 5

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While we love the latest Kia Sportage, we think the previous generation car is still one of the best options as a used family car – so much so that we crowned it our Best Used Family Car and Best Used Car overall in our 2022 and 2023 Carbuyer Used Car Awards. One of the standout reasons for this is Kia’s impressive seven-year warranty, so you’ll have years of worry-free motoring left if you buy a Sportage that’s only a few years old.

There’s a lot else to like about the Sportage, such as impressive practicality and a roomy interior that came well-equipped across the board when it was on sale. There was also an appealing range of petrol or diesel engines on offer. We’d recommend a post-2018 model with the 134bhp 1.6-litre mild-hybrid diesel if you do a lot of motorway miles, though if you stick to shorter trips around town or for the school run, the 174bhp 1.6-litre petrol version can be the better choice.

Kia Sorento review – a great SUV now made even better

Kia Sorento 2024 front quarter driving
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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Those after even more space will be well served by the latest Kia Sorento, and there are plenty of examples now on the used market. We awarded the Kia Sorento our Best Used Large Family Car award in the 2024 Carbuyer Used Car Awards thanks to its seven-seat practicality, Kia’s impressive seven-year warranty, efficient engines and more upmarket interior compared with its predecessor.

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The Kia Sorento actually makes more sense as a used buy these days, given Kia condensed the new car’s trim lineup down to just the most expensive model during supply chain issues. With more affordable entry-level models no longer available, many used models will be well-equipped, but given they’re second-hand, they should be within the reach of more buyers. The Sorento was sold as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid model, as well as a diesel. If you plan on towing a trailer or a caravan for a family weekend away, we recommend the latter, otherwise the plug-in hybrid version is a good choice for shorter journeys as it can travel up to 35 miles on a charge.

Dacia Duster review – a great-value SUV that owners love (2018-2024)

Dacia Duster SUV
Carbuyer rating

3.2 out of 5

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We’re big fans of the Dacia Duster at Carbuyer and while it’s a new car bargain, it’s even better value as a used buy. We awarded it our Best Used Small Family Car title, and for good reason. It offers plenty of room on the inside and boasts a big 445-litre boot which increases to a vast 1,623 litres with the rear seats down – that’s 176 litres larger than a Nissan Qashqai, and should come in useful when you need to transport larger items such as flatpack furniture or do a tip run, making it pretty versatile. 

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The Duster keeps things simple in terms of engines, with an 89bhp 1.0-litre or a 1.3-litre petrol offered with either 128bhp or 148bhp for a little more grunt. The beauty of the 1.0-litre unit is that it was also sold as a ‘bi-fuel’ version, allowing you to fill up on cheaper LPG fuel as well as conventional petrol to keep costs down if you live near an LPG filling station. A 1.5-litre diesel was also offered and will suit buyers planning on towing a trailer or caravan or driving motorway miles, thanks to its pulling power and efficiency.

Skoda Superb Estate (2015-2023) review

Best Used Estate Car: Skoda Superb Estate
Carbuyer rating

4.8 out of 5

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The Skoda Superb was our Best Used Estate Car at the Carbuyer Best Used Car Awards 2024, thanks to its 660 litres of boot space and ample rear legroom making it a great pick for families. Fold the rear seats down and there’s 1,950 litres of luggage space, while both the 2.0-litre petrol and diesel models can tow 2,000kg, adding even more scope to its flexibility. If you opt for an all-wheel drive model that figure climbs to 2,200kg.

It isn’t just the space that makes the Superb a great family car – its wide range of safety features help to seal the deal. These include post-collision braking, and helped it achieve its five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Blind Spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance are also standard. The 1.5-litre plug-in hybrid model has low BiK (Benefit-in-Kind) meaning there should be plenty of ex-company cars on the used market to choose from.

Kia e-Niro review (2017-2022)

Best Used Family Electric Car: Kia e-Niro
Carbuyer rating

3.9 out of 5

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The Kia e-Niro is well-equipped and spacious, making it a great choice for families searching for a used EV. Two battery options were sold, with a range of either 180, or 282 miles, but you should note the larger battery was only available for ‘3’ and ‘4+’ trims so commands a significant cost premium. The entry ‘2’ models still get a rearview camera, keyless entry, and cruise control and will be the cheapest option on the used market, if the lower range of the smaller battery suits your lifestyle.

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The e-Niro offers 451 litres of boot space and plenty of technology. While its interior styling isn’t the most exciting, it’s functional, comfortable and should prove fairly hard-wearing. Stepping up to ‘3’ trim adds a larger 10.25-inch screen and leather upholstery with heated front seats. The ‘4+’ trim adds a JBL sound system and heated rear seats so the whole family can warm up on a cold winter morning.

Skoda Kodiaq SUV review (2016-2024)

Best Large Family Car: Skoda Kodiaq
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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If you need more than five seats, we’d recommend heading to the top of the Skoda SUV range. The Kodiaq also benefits from its VW Group underpinnings, and has an interior that will stand up to the rigours of family life. Just like the Octavia, the inside is restrained but generously specced; all models feature cruise control, parking sensors and an eight-inch infotainment system.

The boot is enormous with five seats in place, and positively van-like with just the two front seats in use. It’s a wide boot opening – in fact, at its widest point it’s the same width as the original Mini – and doesn’t have a lip to haul things over, which makes loading easy. Adults will be fine in the two back seats on short journeys, and even with all seats in place, there’s almost as much boot space as in a Ford Fiesta. Bear in mind, though, that buyers had to pay extra for seven seats on some trim levels, so make sure you check out how many seats it has if you’re after a seven-seater.

BMW 5 Series Touring estate review

BMW 5 Series Touring
Carbuyer rating

4.8 out of 5

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Few cars are able to combine the space of an SUV, with the fuel efficiency of a hatchback, while still being enjoyable to drive, but the BMW 5 Series Touring really does have very few compromises. As a family car, it is one of the best on the market, and while some of the cars on our list will be cheaper, if the 5 Series is within your budget it is well worth a test drive.

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The current generation has been around since 2017 and it’s expected to be replaced soon, but that shouldn’t put you off. Standard equipment features navigation, leather seats, cruise control, and even air suspension.

Although you should remember that it may be cheaper to buy than when it was new, it will still require more expensive maintenance than other cars on our list, and this includes a higher VED (road tax) fee until it is six years old, if its original list price was above £40,000.

Kia Ceed hatchback review

2021 Kia Ceed driving
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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The Kia Ceed is a fun-to-drive family hatchback that challenges more established family models like the Vauxhall Astra and Ford focus. The refreshed model was released as supply shortages slowed new car sales in late 2021, so you may have to be willing to look at all colours and specifications to find one on the used market. However, all trims offer a satisfying drive and facelift models have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, and cruise control.

Options to look out for include a heated windscreen, to melt frost in winter, and ventilated front seats that will help keep you cool on a long summer drive.

Engine choices are split between a 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol and a single 1.6-litre diesel for high-mileage drivers. All are available with a manual transmission, although the 1.5-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel have an optional automatic gearbox with seven gears.

Ford Focus review

Ford Focus - front 3/4 dynamic
Carbuyer rating

4.1 out of 5

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The Ford Focus was not only one of the most popular cars in the UK, but it was the go-to choice for many car buyers, from families to company-car drivers. It has slipped out of the sales charts in recent years due to supply shortages, however, it is still a very popular choice as a used car buy.

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The Focus is now on a par with the Golf in this respect, and it comes pretty close on interior quality too. An eight-inch touchscreen takes pride of place on the dashboard on all but the entry-level model, and all versions come with a good spread of equipment including a heated windscreen and DAB radio. Even on models without sports suspension, the Focus is among the best-driving hatchbacks on sale, so it’s a top choice for keen drivers. Because the Focus sells so well, it’s always good value on the used market, and Ford’s servicing costs generally aren’t too expensive.

Citroën Grand C4 SpaceTourer MPV review (2013-2022)

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
Carbuyer rating

3.8 out of 5

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A practical family car needn’t require you to give up on style. The Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer is a great-looking car as well as a functional family cruiser. You’ll mainly find diesel engine models on the used market, however, the petrol is a little more refined and better for families that will mainly cover city mileage.

Inside is just as appealing, with a huge digital instrument cluster and touchscreen, and a minimalist look that makes you look to the road ahead. 

The three middle seats are all separate and each has an ISOFIX point, while a flat floor means plenty of space for feet, and sliding doors give easy access. You’ll be sacrificing boot space when all seven seats are in use, but there’s up to 793 litres of space if you flop the rearmost seats down.

If you've decided you want to buy new and want a practical high-riding car, check out our list of best family SUVs...
 

Top 10 best used family cars

  1. Kia Sportage
  2. Kia Sorento
  3. Dacia Duster
  4. Skoda Superb Estate
  5. Kia e-Niro
  6. Skoda Kodiaq
  7. BMW 5 Series Touring
  8. Kia Ceed
  9. Ford Focus
  10. Citroen Grand C4 Space Tourer
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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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