Top 10 best family cars 2023
The 10 best family cars you can buy all offer space, comfort and plenty of technology
The best family cars are those that offer plenty of practicality for the parents and kids, and low running costs. They should be practical and affordable to live with and use regularly, whether that be to run to the shops, complete the school run, or take the family on a trip away. A good family car should also be reliable – it needs to keep up with the rigours of busy family life without any risk of it letting you down.
While the typical family car used to be a mid-size hatchback like the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, modern family cars are now more diverse. The popularity of SUVs means manufacturers now sell them in a range of sizes, and these are prominent in our top 10 best family cars list alongside more traditional hatchbacks, MPVs and ever more electric offerings.
What makes the best family car?
The number one rule for a family car is that it must be practical. Whether it be prams, suitcases or bicycles, a good family car should have a boot large enough to swallow almost anything you throw at it. Given there is likely more than one person in the vehicle on a regular basis, there should be plenty of space in the cabin, too – all the cars here offer decent legroom and headroom to ensure those travelling in both the front and rear are comfortable.
Family cars should also offer great fuel economy, as it’s often the case that it will be the only vehicle for a household and will tally up plenty of miles. Therefore, all of our picks are offered with economical engines; some are even available with plug-in hybrid tech or even fully-electric powertrains for rock-bottom running costs.
All of that aside, one of the most important factors is safety; all the models we picked have at least a four, or even a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, so you can have peace of mind with your family on board.
Keep reading to discover our favourite family runarounds across the entirety of the new car market. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more specific, why not check out our lists of the best large family cars and the best electric family cars?
The Dacia Jogger is quite simply one of the best-value cars currently on the market, winning our 2024 Carbuyer Best Family Car award. It takes the Sandero’s simple, but effective recipe as a cheap runabout but adds much more room, and seven seats as an option. As a result, the best thing about the Jogger is that it offers MPV-like space for the price of a supermini, making it the logical choice for a growing family.
In 2023, Dacia even expanded the Jogger’s simple engine range with a hybrid version, meaning the Jogger is a surprising new rival to established hybrids such as the Toyota Corolla, albeit costing almost £10,000 less. The hybrid offers an impressive 56.5mpg fuel economy figure and is best suited to high-mileage drivers, or those who spend lots of time in traffic where its engine can switch off temporarily. As with the Sandero, there’s also a Bi-Fuel version which allows drivers to switch between petrol and cheaper LPG at the touch of a button, so if you live near a forecourt selling LPG, this version could tempt you, too.
The second-generation Hyundai Kona is a brilliant small family car because it’s the culmination of all of the feedback the brand received about the original model. It’s slightly larger than before and more practical as a result, making it more usable for a small family. Its looks may divide opinion, but there’s no denying it stands out among the crowd in this respect.
It feels more upmarket, too, with a modern, yet simple design on the inside, and it all feels well-built. While many car manufacturers have been ditching physical controls in favour of incorporating many features into a touchscreen, Hyundai has kept many of them, and everything feels easy to use as a result. You get a generous level of equipment, too, with all versions getting a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a 12.9-inch digital dash for the driver. There’s also front and rear parking sensors, a reverse camera, automatic lights and wipers and cruise control among other features.
Skoda is renowned for offering great value for money, and the seven-seater Kodiaq is no different. Sitting as the largest model in the Czech brand’s lineup, the Skoda Kodiaq comes well-equipped as standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, cruise control and a rear-view camera. With all seven seats in place, the Kodiaq offers 270 litres in the rear – about the same as what you’d find in a Toyota Yaris. Fold down the third row and this increases to a cavernous 735 litres.
For such a large car, the Kodiaq is surprisingly good to drive, too. While most cars of this size boast a range of electrified engines, the Kodiaq’s powertrain selection is more conservative, consisting only of petrol and diesel power. This may dissuade company car drivers, but private buyers will still appreciate low running costs – petrol cars can officially manage over 40mpg, whereas diesels will return around 50mpg.
The Hyundai Tucson clinched our prestigious Best Family Car award, and for good reason; the striking family SUV offers plenty of space, a comfortable ride and an interior to rival that of more premium rivals. As standard, all Tucson models get a tablet-style 10.25-inch touchscreen as well as an eight-inch digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel – something you’d usually have to pay extra for on other cars.
Hyundai offers the Tucson with three different engine choices: petrol, hybrid and plug-in hybrid. We recommend opting for the middle-rung hybrid option as this is less expensive than the range-topping plug-in, but it offers plenty of punch when you put your foot down and returns around 50mpg.
The Kia Niro offers much of what we love about its larger sibling, the Kia Sportage, but in a much more versatile package. While most SUVs seem to blend in with one another, the Kia Niro has a bold design and an even bolder interior, thanks to its dual 10.25-inch screen setup. Despite being smaller than the Sportage, boot space is still strong; with up to 475 litres on offer, the Niro should be able to cover the luggage for most family trips.
What truly makes the Niro versatile, however, is its range of powertrains: Kia offers the compact SUV in self-charging hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric form. This means there should be a model for whatever stage you are on with your eventual switch to electric power. No matter which you choose, expect rock-bottom running costs and peace of mind thanks to Kia’s near-unbeatable seven-year warranty.
The electric MG ZS EV SUV is a far cry from the lightweight sports cars the British marque is renowned for making, but it’s rather impressive nonetheless. Most electric SUVs of this size start from around £40,000, yet the practical ZS EV comes in at just over £30k. Consider the fact that a much smaller Vauxhall Corsa Electric starts from around the same price, and you’ll realise how much of a bargain this really is.
That’s not to say the MG is cheap and not cheerful: all models come well-equipped and there are two battery sizes to choose from. The smaller 51kWh battery offers around 200 miles of range, which should be enough for buyers that spend the majority of their time around town. A larger, 76kWh ‘Long Range’ model is also available that’ll do 273 miles before needing to be plugged in, giving a range figure that’s on par with the likes of the more expensive Hyundai Kona Electric.
While some electric cars like to blend in amongst their petrol and diesel counterparts, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 stands out from the crowd with its distinctive retro-futuristic styling. Arguably one of the coolest cars that you could find in the supermarket car park, the Ioniq 5 is much more practical than its simple hatchback shape might suggest; the flat interior floor means three people can sit abreast in the rear comfortably and the 527-litre boot is around 150 litres more than what you’d find in a Volkswagen Golf.
The Ioniq 5 may be heavy for a family hatchback (due to the batteries, it weighs around two tonnes), however, it handles well on a twisty road thanks to a low centre of gravity. With two battery sizes on offer, the Ioniq 5 can cater to different needs and budgets – top-spec cars can travel 300 miles on a single charge. However, all models get access to lightning-fast 350kW charging and can top up from 10-80% charge in just 18 minutes when using one of the few public chargers that support those speeds.
Despite the initial success of the Nissan Qashqai in the early 2010s, the Japanese brand has struggled to keep up with rivals in the ever-expanding SUV market. The electric Nissan Ariya seeks to change this, as it boasts a luxurious interior and competitive range figures, all while remaining in line with rivals price-wise. Despite costing about the same as a Volkswagen ID.4, the Ariya’s cabin feels much more expensive; the illuminated wood panel on the dashboard feels undeniably premium and the nifty sliding centre console makes the Nissan more versatile by prioritising space in either the front or rear.
As is the case with most electric models, buyers can choose from two battery sizes: 63kWh and 87kWh. The former should be enough for most buyers with its 250-mile range and ability to charge from 20-80% in under half an hour thanks to 130kW fast charging. With light steering and supple suspension, the Ariya is well-suited to the school run, but it can still provide some fun when out on the open road.
If you’re looking for a premium family car that’s also fun to drive, the BMW 5 Series Touring offers both of those things in a supremely practical package. As you’d expect from a German luxury car such as a BMW, the 5 Series’ interior feels incredibly plush; all models come with leather upholstery as standard and BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is intuitive to use and one of the best in the business.
Thanks to its rear-wheel-drive layout and finely tuned chassis, the 5 Series Touring is by far the sharpest car to drive on this list. Buyers can choose from a range of engines which span from petrol and diesel to plug-in hybrid power. Family buyers who do a lot of miles will be best off with the 520d diesel model as this offers plenty of power while also returning around 55mpg.
The latest Vauxhall Astra is a huge departure visually from the outgoing model with its angular silhouette and striking ‘Vizor’ front-end design. Stepping inside, the dual-screen ‘Pure Panel’ infotainment setup feels suitably modern and comes as standard with DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While the interior as a whole is not quite as spacious as the equivalent SUV, there is more than enough room for children and the Astra’s 422-litre boot is larger than rivals such as the Ford Focus.
While the mechanically similar Peugeot 308 is set up more for comfort, Vauxhall has tuned the Astra’s chassis to provide a sportier drive. That’s not to say it’s uncomfortable, however; only the largest of bumps cause a disturbance in the cabin. We recommend opting for the 128bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine as this should be punchy enough for most buyers, while only marginally less economical than the lower-powered model.
Not quite ready to go electric but like the idea of low running costs? Check out our list of the top 10 best hybrid family cars
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