Whether you’re after big and posh or compact and affordable, there are lots of great options if you're looking for your next family car. We’ve compiled a list our top 8 favourites. Read on to find out which one is your perfect match.
1. Skoda Kodiaq
The Skoda Kodiaq is a great family car because it does just about everything you could ever want and probably a bit more. You can have it with five or seven-seats, petrol or diesel engines, two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and manual or automatic.
You can also choose to have a moderate trim level at a great price and with an efficient engine, or you can go all-out and opt for one that’s stuffed with every feature you can think of.
You can even choose a sporty option if you can find one of the vRS models. It’s simply the best balance of value, practicality, luxury, smart styling, modern tech and convenience that you’ll find if you’re after a big family SUV. It’s far from the newest car here, but it still thoroughly deserves the top spot.
2. Volkswagen Golf
The VW Golf defines the family hatchback class, so if you don’t want SUV looks or stance in your family car, but you do want unflappable dynamics, a classy interior and one of the best infotainment systems in the class and all the safety aids you could want, the Golf does it.
Replaced in 2020 with the all-new Mk8, the seventh generation Golf makes a great used buy, still looks sharp and lives up to the Golf’s reputation for being a good balance of value and quality. The bubbly petrols would be our pick of the engine range, but high mileage drivers would be well advised to go for the more economical and impressively refined diesels on offer.
3. Peugeot 5008
A family SUV is all about practicality and the Peugeot 5008 has got that nailed. You remember the old-fashioned people carriers, with their three individual, sliding seats? Well, the Peugeot 5008 is basically one of those, only in a fancy SUV body. The three equal-sized, individually sliding seats in the middle row can take three car seats, while the two folding seats in the back are great for older kids.There are loads of neat touches including hidden storage and child locks that can be controlled via a button next to the driver.
It’s also fantastic value. It’s not available with four-wheel drive though, so this isn’t a ‘proper’ SUV by any stretch. It does have fancy traction control and decent ground clearance, so it’ll handle rutted tracks and lumpy rural roads with no hassle at all.
4. Land Rover Discovery
If you want a car capable of taking you on family adventures the Land Rover Discovery is one of the best cars to do it in. It's a true off-roader that has the ability to cover just about any type of terrain, so you'll be able to reach places that most cars – even many SUVs – can't.
Better still, you get wherever you need to go in comfort because the interior is hugely spacious, with lots of headroom and legroom and seven supportive seats. There are all kinds of features that make family life that bit easier, whether it's a boot that's very easy to clean out or plenty of storage spaces for your clutter.
The Discovery is a supremely relaxing car to travel in, with an interior that's quiet at speed and a smooth ride. That means long journeys are less taxing for whoever's driving and more comfortable for everyone else on board.
5. Kia Ceed Sportswagon
The Kia Ceed Sportswagon isn’t the sort of car that you shout about in the pub, but it’s spacious, pleasant to drive, economical and features loads of equipment, including a decent touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration.
It also has a seven year warranty and it costs far less than Golf or most equivalents to buy. There are some remarkable finance and lease deals around if you look for them.
For many, being great value, safe, spacious and – critically - inexpensive to buy and run, is really all that’s needed of a decent family car. Go for the Sportswagon for the best option if you’ve got a chunky buggy or dog to worry about, but the standard hatchback is a very worthy option if a big boot isn’t such a priority. Check out the Hyundai i30 - which gets all the same mechanical parts as the Kia - for similar value and worthiness with a five-year warranty.
6. Skoda Superb Estate
And yet another Skoda, but what can we say? Skoda makes some of the best family cars going and sells them at great prices.
This big estate has a vast boot, limo-like rear passenger space, is a sweet drive, has all the engine options you could want (including a plug-in model), great infotainment and nav system and you can even have it with four-wheel drive.
If you want space, modern safety, comfort and tech, but don’t need seven-seats or SUV ground clearance, the Skoda Superb Estate really is the best option and it comes at a fantastic price, whether you’re buying new or used.
7. Volvo XC40
The Volvo XC40 is dubbed a ‘compact’ SUV by car types, but it’s roughly the same size as a Nissan Qashqai, which isn’t terribly compact by many people’s standards. It’s plenty big enough to cope with a small family’s needs, yet the XC40’s bluff shape, light driver controls and decent visibility also make it perfect for taking the stress out of a torturous school run or urban commute.
It also has some great engine options, including a three-cylinder petrol and a plug-in hybrid. By 2021, you’ll also be able to get a pure electric XC40, so there really will be a version for every lifestyle.
On top of that, the XC40 is packed with standard safety kit, looks fantastic and exudes unmistakable Scandi-design on the inside. If it’s a small, premium SUV you want for your family wheels, this is a great choice.
8. Tesla Model X
The pure electric Tesla Model X is perhaps best known for its crazy performance, but it’s also one of the biggest, most practical family cars you can buy.
You can have the Model X in five, six or seven-seat layouts and it has a vast boot at the back and even more storage space under the bonnet. It’s more than big enough that you’ll be able to get a couple of light buggies in the boot even with seven seats in place.
Of course, It has all the tax and fuel-savings of any electric car and while there are various different battery sizes - which dictate how far the car will go before you’ll need to plug it in - all will do over 150 miles of real-world driving in between charges. The Model X also has four-wheel drive and a useful 2250kg towing capacity, which makes it appropriate for a horse box or caravan. So, if you can live with a high price and some questionable build quality, the Tesla Model X really is one of the most versatile family cars you can buy.
Looking for something a little smaller? Why not read our guide to the best used small family cars.