1. Home
  2. News
  3. What’s the best family car?


What’s the best family car?

Written By Andrew Brady

family in car
  • Find out which family car will suit you 
  • What features are most important
  • How to ensure the car you're buying is safe

Buying a car to suit all the family is a tricky business. And the sheer number of family-friendly cars out there can make choosing one even harder. But you can make life easier for yourself by nailing down the features that are most important to you.

Once you’ve done that, we’ve put together a list of fabulous family cars for you to choose from.

Type of car

This depends on your family, how old your children are and what you want the car for. If you have three kids, a seven-seat car could well come in handy for playing taxi driver to friends or taking grandparents out for the day.

Traditionally, the MPV or people carrier was the car to own for this. And their practicality was boosted by having super-flexible interiors with plenty of sliding and folding seat options. But now an increasing number of car makers are milking the popularity of SUVs by offering larger 4x4-type crossovers with adaptable seven-seat options.

Or perhaps you’ve got a small, young family and most of your motoring life will be spent ferrying a couple of kids around town. In which case, a compact hatchback will do the trick. After all, you can always expand its luggage carrying capacity with a roof box.


You’ll want to keep those nearest and dearest to you as safe as possible. It’s easy to find out how well a car does this by going to the Euro NCAP website. The European New Car Assessment Programme is an independent outfit that forensically examines the safety features of most new cars. It then gives them a rating with five stars for the best.


Most cars have five doors these days. But depending on why you’re buying the car, you may want to know how wide the back doors are. If you’ve got young kids, you probably don’t want a car that requires the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast to fit car seats. Pick a people carrier/MPV shape car and some come with sliding rear doors for super-easy access to the back seats.


You won’t just want somewhere to put all the paraphernalia of parenthood, storage space in general is a vital part of family motoring. Most cars have plenty of cupholders and cubbies but you’d be surprised how many don’t have a sensible space for putting mobile phones.

It’s also worth checking if there are cupholders for the back seats. A table that folds out of the front seat back could be handy. And if you’ve got expensive equipment, you’ll want somewhere to hide it away from prying eyes when you leave the car.

Boots are normally measured in litres. This is meaningless to most of us - unless you know the precise capacity of every bag, suitcase and storage box you own. But it does let you compare the size offered by different cars.

Probably more important than outright size is having a boot that’s a usable shape. That means straight-edged sides without too much space taken up by the wheel arches. It’s worth finding out how straightforward it is to fold the back seats down; some cars now have the catches in the boot for added ease. Look for a flat floor when the seats are folded down. And a low boot lip will make getting things in and out less back breaking.


When you’re looking around for a family car, think about the equipment that’s been chosen for it, the specification.

An increasing number have tinted glass and even sun blinds as an option these days. These might sound like a luxury but they’re a handy way of keeping kids from getting hot and bothered.

What about in-car charging points? Hand-held devices are a must-have for most children nowadays. How many USB ports and 12-volt power sockets are there around the cockpit? And speaking of electronics, parking aids such as sensors and a reversing camera are a handy way of making family trips less stressful.

Best family cars 2021

We’ve split these into five different categories depending on the size of family you have and the kind of car you might be looking for.

Best small family hatchback – Skoda Octavia

It might be classed as a small family hatchback but there’s nothing diminutive about the Skoda Octavia. It’s got a massive boot and plenty of room in the back, along with a decent range of engines and easy-to-use infotainment.

Best large family hatchback – Vauxhall Insignia

The Vauxhall Insignia is one of the most under-rated family cars around. It’s comfortable, spacious, and has a massive boot. As it’s lower to the ground and lighter than an SUV, it’s economical too. There are also a lot of used models to choose from.

Most practical family car – SEAT Alhambra

The Seat Alhambra is an old-school people carrier. It has seven seats and sliding rear doors that make access to the back simple. It’s also got plenty of kit and a decent choice of economical engines.

Hybrid family vehicle – Hyundai Ioniq

The Ioniq might sound like a health drink but it’s Hyundai’s hybrid family car. It’s well-built and spacious for people wanting to take advantage of petrol-electric motoring. Competitively priced and well equipped, the Ioniq is good to drive too.

Best family SUVs – Skoda Kodiaq/SEAT Tarraco

There’s a choice here. The Skoda Kodiaq and Seat Tarraco are basically the same car but wearing different Volkswagen Group badges. Both are stylish seven-seat SUVs with interiors that are well built, spacious and flexible enough to meet the needs of the most demanding family car buyers.

See also: 

Best family cars with large boots

Cheapest family cars

Best family cars for £20,000