Audi A3 Sportback

Best used small family cars

Fancy a car that’s fit for family life yet easy to park and affordable to own? Then have a look at our guide to the best small family cars around.

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By Cazoo editorial team

Whether it's enough legroom for your growing teenagers, a boot big enough for your next staycation or something that makes the school run stress-free, there are plenty of great options if you want a used small family car.

Here are our 10 favourites.

1. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

BMW is best known for its sporty saloons and luxury SUVs but it also makes MPVs and that’s effectively what the 2 Series Active Tourer is. As with most MPVs, you benefit from a high driving position that gives you a great view of the road, as well as large windows in the front and back that are perfect for hours spent playing ‘I Spy’.

A large boot and back seats that fold multiple ways give you the kind of versatility you’d expect of an MPV, while you also get the high-quality interior and the driving fun you’d expect of a BMW. If you need even more space you could opt for the slightly longer Gran Tourer model, which has seven seats rather than five.

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2. Dacia Duster

If you’re looking for value for money then the Dacia Duster is going to be a great fit. Quite simply, it’s one of the least expensive small family cars you can buy. It has a classic SUV design, with raised ground clearance, a boxy body and wide doors that help you get in and out easily. There’s lots of headroom and legroom inside, and you can overpack to your heart's content because the boot is huge.

Like most Dacias, the Duster doesn’t have as much up-to-the-minute tech as some rivals but it’s solidly built and has everything you really need. It’s comfortable to drive and gives everyone on board a great view out, while the engines give you excellent fuel economy.

Read our Dacia Duster review

3. Ford Focus Estate

When you’re looking for cost-effective small cars, the Ford Focus should be one of the first on your list – it’s great to drive, full of high-tech features and inexpensive to own. While the hatchback version is a superb family car, there’s a lot of sense in going for the Estate model, particularly if you’re looking to double down on practicality.

The Focus Estate looks just as sharp as the hatchback, it doesn’t cost you that much more and you get a much larger boot. It’s so big you don’t have to spend hours figuring out how to pack to maximise space – you can more or less shove everything in.

The Estate is every bit as much fun to drive as the hatchback, too, with a smooth, family-friendly ride, an agile feel on winding country roads and a range of responsive engines.

Read our Ford Focus review

4. Peugeot 3008

Family cars don’t come much more stylish than the Peugeot 3008. It has a modern, sharp-edged look inside and out, while the interior combines excellent quality and advanced tech. With the 3008 you get a luxurious car without having to spend the earth.

Some versions have a panoramic roof that floods the interior with light – particularly useful if you have young kids – although it slightly reduces headroom in the back. Even so, there’s space for three adults in the back and the boot is impressively large. To top it all off, the 3008 is as good to drive as it is to look at, with a comfortable ride and quiet engines.

Read our Peugeot 3008 review

5. Renault Captur

You can tell that the Renault Captur was created with young families in mind. This compact SUV is hardly bigger than the Renault Clio supermini that it’s based on, yet it offers as much interior space as some much larger, more expensive cars. It beats most of its rivals for interior space and has a larger boot.

The fact that it’s so comfortable and quiet on the road makes it even more suitable for families, while some very efficient engines help to keep running costs low. If you like your car to stand out then the Captur’s modern looks and bright colour options definitely give an extra pop to your daily drives.

Read our Renault Captur review

6. Seat Leon

Looking for a superb all-rounder that’s both affordable and a bit sporty? Then take a look at the Seat Leon. Inside and out the Leon has a design flair that sets it apart from most other small hatchbacks, while it’s also one of the most cost-effective small family cars. An all-new model was launched in 2020, but we’re focusing on the version sold new between 2013 and 2020 (pictured), which gives you even better value for money.

There are lots of trims to choose from, but all come with an 8-inch infotainment screen and you don’t have to pay loads more if you want FR trim, which gives you sports seats, large alloys and sports suspension. The Leon is available with a range of responsive yet fuel-efficient engines and a high standard of safety equipment. It’s worth seriously considering if your budget can’t quite stretch to an Audi A3 or Volkswagen Golf.

7. Skoda Karoq

The Skoda Karoq SUV gives you an impressive amount of car for your money, with every version offering a roomy interior and lots of useful features. Some models even have a ‘gesture control’ function that allows you to skip songs on the touchscreen infotainment system simply by flicking your hand. It’s a neat touch that might keep the kids entertained for a second or two.

The versatility of the Karoq is a great fit for family trips. There’s loads of room in the back – tall or short, you’re free to stretch out. Most versions come with what Skoda calls ‘Varioflex seating’, a design for the back seats that allows you to slide, recline and fold each of the three seats independently, or take them out completely if you need the car to double as a removal van. Whether it’s getting the kids, the dogs, sports equipment or all of the above inside, the Karoq is perfect for the job.

8. Vauxhall Crossland X

What if you could combine the roominess of an MPV with the rugged style of an SUV? That’s what Vauxhall has done with the Crossland X. Thanks to its tall shape it packs a lot of practicality into a car that’s not much longer than a Vauxhall Corsa.

The Crossland X is bigger than Vauxhall’s Mokka SUV and has more rear legroom and a bigger boot, so it’s a better fit if you have small children and have to lug around pushchairs and heavy bags. The high seats in the front and back guarantee a great view out for you and the kids, and it also makes it easy for everyone to get in and out. There’s no hybrid option but the engines are all very efficient, with both the petrol and diesel options giving you at least 50mpg, according to official average figures.

9. Audi A3 Sportback

If you want a small car with a premium badge, the Audi A3 Sportback is a great choice.

The exterior design is smart yet subtle, and the interior of all versions has a high-quality look and feel. Interior space is on a par with similar cars such as the Volkswagen Golf.

While the all-new version of the A3 (launched in 2020) is bursting with high-tech features, we're focusing here on the version sold new between 2013 and 2020. It’s just as upmarket in the way it looks and feels yet it gives you even better value for money. There’s also a great range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, including a 1.5-litre petrol that’s the best pick if you want good fuel economy but enough power for easy overtaking.

Read our Audi A3 review

10. Volvo V40

You expect elegant design and lots of safety features from a Volvo and you get both with the V40. It’s a car that gives you much of the solid, luxurious feel of Volvo’s large cars in a compact hatchback that’s stylish and cost-effective. There’s even a V40 Cross Country model, which gives you a slightly higher ride and some rugged design details if you want more of an SUV look.

There are petrol and diesel models to choose from, while some models have four-wheel drive. All feel solid on the road and give you a smooth ride. Interior comfort is excellent, with the kind of well-shaped, supportive seats that Volvo is famous for. Every V40 is very well equipped and the list of safety equipment is especially impressive, with features that can detect an imminent collision and automatically apply the brakes to help prevent it.

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