Families have more choice than ever when choosing the perfect car thanks to a huge increase in the number of cars that are shaped like SUVs. The rise of the family crossover trend has seen cars like the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan and Citroen C5 Aircross dominate UK roads.
But the enduring SUV/crossover trend also means that even a lot of ‘small’ cars are now suitable for some families because despite taking up relatively little space on the road, they have tall, spacious bodies.
What To Consider When Choosing A Family Car
Find out the things you should think about when considering your family car, some of them more obvious than others.
How Many People? - Think about how many passengers you need to transport, and if this number will be increasing in the next 3-5 years.
How Often Will The Car Be At Full Capacity? - According to UK Government stats, 60% of car journeys are made with only the driver in the car, so consider if a smaller, more efficient car would suit your family better.
What Are Your Priorities? - Does it need to be easy to park? Or is the latest tech the most important issue? What about safety ratings? Decide what your most vital features are before you compare between models.
What Are The Best Family Cars 2023?
So, what are your options? We’re going to give you some practical examples based on various priorities and categorised to help you find the perfect family car.
- Best Family Cars For Maximum Flexibility
- Safest Family Cars
- Best Family Car For Fuel Economy
- Easiest Family Car To Park
- Seven-Seat Family Car Options
- The Most Comfortable Family Cars
- Best Family Cars For Rear Seat Space
- Best Family Cars For Boot Space
- Most Stylish Family Cars
- Most Fun Family Cars To Drive
- Best Family Cars For All-Terrain Ability
- Most Cost-Effective Family Cars
- Best Electric Family Cars
Best Family Cars 2023
So, what are your options? We’re going to give you some practical examples based on various priorities to help you find the perfect family car.
Best Family Cars For Maximum Flexibility
1. Citroen C5 Aircross
One of the rare cars with three full seats across the middle row, as opposed to a bench with a smaller middle seat, , the C5 Aircross is a spacious family car, boasting boot space of a huge 780-litres with the seats furthest forward.
2. Volkswagen Caddy Life
Based on the Caddy Cargo van, the Caddy Life is around the size of a Golf between the wheels but its van-based origins mean it has seven seats, tonnes of passenger and boot space, and car park friendly sliding rear doors.
3. Ford Galaxy
One of the last big MPVs available today, the Galaxy is nonetheless a brilliant all-purpose people carrier. It’s also very refined and surprisingly dynamic to drive, for a vast seven-seat family car.
Safest Family Cars
1. Volkswagen Tiguan
The Tiguan runs the Alfa Romeo Giulia very close with a 96% adult occupant score, while beating the Alfa with its 84% child occupant score. It comes with lots of high-tech safety stuff as standard, like emergency city braking with pedestrian detection.
Find the best monthly prices with our latest Volkswagen Tiguan lease deals.
2. Alfa Romeo Giulia
Despite a reputation for style above all else, the Alfa Romeo Giulia holds an astonishing 98% adult occupant score in the Euro NCAP crash tests. As a bonus, it’s also one of the best looking and most interesting family saloons available.
3. Volvo XC60
There had to be a Volvo in here, right? The XC60 is a remarkably safe SUV, with a fantastic 98% score for adult occupant protection from Euro NCAP and a 95% score in the Safety Assist category. Autonomous emergency braking, speed limit recognition and lane keeping assistant are all standard fit.
Find out more about the safest cars available to drive in 2023.
Best Family Car For Fuel Economy
1. Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid
Plug-in hybrids offer unbelievable fuel economy. They often boast three-figure mpg ratings (the Ioniq’s is 257mpg) but getting decent real-world efficiency is very dependent on keeping the battery full and driving short distances at low speeds. Still, the Ioniq is a very spacious, tax-friendly family car. And one of the most economical you’ll find.
2. SEAT Leon 1.6 TDI
There’s still a place for a small capacity diesel if you really want the best fuel gains, and the Leon 1.6 TDI is one of the most economical. If you do the majority of your driving on the motorway it’s very possible to top 60mpg in the Leon, and although it’s not the quickest in the list, it’s still really good fun to drive. Comfy too.
3. Toyota Prius
Available as a plug-in hybrid or a ‘self-charging’ one, the latter meaning it has a smaller battery and cannot be plugged in, “Prius” is a byword for ‘green’ motoring. You’ll get a good 50mpg from the self-charging version and around 30 miles from a full battery with the plug-in.
Easiest Family Car To Park
1. Volkswagen T-Cross
Compact crossovers are your best bet if you want lots of cabin and boot but without taking up too much road space. The T-Cross is one of the best. Really refined, highly intuitive cabin, big boot, and yet still feels quite small to drive.
2. Citroen C3 Aircross
Probably the quirkiest small crossover available, the C3 Aircross is also one of the easiest to live with. It’s relatively tall so it feels very spacious, and although it’s not the most dynamic of these things, its soft suspension makes it great at long journeys.
3. Kia Stonic
The Stonic is Kia’s small crossover, it's interestingly styled, very high quality and is great value too. It doesn’t have the biggest boot in the class – check out a Skoda Kamiq lease if that’s a priority – but it feels smaller to drive while offering plenty of cabin room.
Seven-Seat Family Car Options
1. Peugeot 5008
The most exceptional thing about the Peugeot 5008 is how much fun to drive it is, given its large proportions. The rearmost seats offer very little legroom, but they fold away easily into a huge and flexible boot space. It also has three individual chairs in the middle row – great if you have three kids.
2. Volvo XC90
Not the cheapest, but the XC90 offers true luxury SUV space and refinement but for far less than the price of a Range Rover Sport or BMW X5 lease. It too has three individual chairs across the middle row, and its sheer size means that it’s extremely flexible.
3. BMW 2-Series Gran Tourer
The 2 Series Gran Tourer is the seven-seat version of the Active Tourer MPV, offering more space and practicality than the equivalent SUV, the X1, but without feeling any bigger on the road. Not the biggest seven-seater for sure, but has a ‘premium’ feel that most MPVs can’t match.
Looking for more seven seater options for a large family? Take a look at our guide to the best seven seater cars available.
The Most Comfortable Family Cars
1. Volvo XC40
You’ll be surprised just how much like a luxury SUV the XC40 can feel, while not being the mildly intimidating size of one. Brilliant driving position, really quiet, and one of the most flexible cabins of any family car.
2. Citroen C5 Aircross
Possibly the softest-riding car this side of a Range Rover, the C5 Aircross therefore feels like an actual luxury car at times. It’s far from the most dynamic, but it offers amazing space and comfort for the money, not to mention personality.
3. Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Not small, nor cheap, the E-Class is well worth the outlay because it combines true luxury ride quality and refinement with sensational build quality. The E-Class is incredibly reliable, safe, and practical with lots of space for a family.
Best Family Cars For Rear Seat Space
1. Skoda Superb
It’s amazing quite how much rear space (and boot space) the Skoda Superb has. You’re basically looking at the space of a limo – something like a Mercedes-Benz S-Class – but at a price more akin to a Volkswagen Golf.
2. Honda Jazz
The Jazz has always been extraordinarily packaged, especially when it comes to rear space and flexibility. The latest model is no exception. You’ll comfortably fit four very tall adults in a Jazz, despite it being little bigger than a Ford Fiesta.
3. Volkswagen Touran
If you need lots of rear legroom and three individual rear chairs the Touran is a great option. The Touran boasts plenty of room for adults in the front or rear seats – the latter can be folded to create a totally flat floor if you need to transport larger items.
Best Family Car For Boot Space
1. Skoda Superb
If you don’t like the idea of an SUV or an estate then Skoda Superb Hatchback leasing could give you the perfect big-booted family car. The hatchback itself is enormous – great for loading things – and it opens to reveal a 625-litre space.
2. Audi Q7
The Audi Q7’s 770-litre boot space (with the rearmost seats folded flat) is just enormous, but then again so too is the car itself. Maximum space is a van-like 1,955 litres. This sizeable vehicle is excellent at managing city streets and has effortless control.
3. Volvo V60
The V60 estate’s 529-litre boot doesn’t sound the biggest in volume terms, but it’s a very flexible space with a square shape and a large, flat loading floor. When you drop the rear row, you get 1,441-litres of space.
Plus, it has all this room without sacrificing an attractive and sporty silhouette. Need your next car to offer plenty of boot space? Take a look at our picks of the best cars for boot space.
Most Stylish Family Car
1. BMW 4 Series
It’s a two-door coupe, yes, but the 4 Series has a large boot and two rear seats, and it will just about pass as family transport if those seats are only being used occasionally for smaller teenage kids. This car offers decent practicality with 440-litres of boot space.
2. Audi A5 Sportback
Arguably the perfect blend of style and substance, the A5 sportback is a very striking five-door with the feel of a coupe but the space of a large family hatchback. Sporty and perfect for the whole family, this car is comfy, practical, and looks great at the same time.
3. Alfa Romeo Giulia
There’s still something mildly exotic about the Alfa Romeo brand, and if you lease a diesel one, it’s very economical too. An Alfa Romeo Giulia lease gives you a powerful luxury saloon designed to be practical with killer looks – the retro design definitely catches eyes.
Most Fun Family Cars To Drive
1. Ford Puma
The Puma might be a family SUV-style car but it’s genuinely one of the most enjoyable small cars you’ll ever drive. It’s also very practical, with a big boot that includes a large waterproof storage box under the floor.
2. BMW 3 Series
Family saloons don’t come much more dynamic than the rear-wheel drive BMW 3 Series. Practical, comfortable and smooth, this car drives as adeptly as ever with a diverse selection of engine sizes.
3. Volkswagen Golf GTI
There are loads of quick family hatchbacks, but the Golf has always been the best one at blending day-to-day comfort and space with manageable fun. The 8-speed automatic transmission gives smooth gear changes and handles twisty roads well.
Take a look at our top picks of the most fun cars to drive.
Best Family Car For All-Terrain Ability
1. Land Rover Defender
The new Defender pulls off an amazing trick of feeling like a Range Rover as a runabout, yet being absolutely impeccable off-road. As capable off-road as it is on, this family-friendly car is perfect for comfortably taking everyone on new adventures.
2. Skoda Yeti
Not a ‘proper’ off-roader but you’ll be amazed at how adept the 4x4 versions actually are over rougher terrain. A great choice for those who need occasional off-road ability. Part family car part SUV, the Yeti is sturdy and versatile.
3. Jeep Wrangler
Effectively the last old school off-roader you can get your hands on new, the Wrangler has a ‘body-on-frame’ chassis, meaning it’s not the most refined SUV in the world but it’s amazing on the muddy stuff. Spacious and stylish, this car is an accomplished family off-roader.
Most Cost-Effective Family Cars
1. Dacia Duster
The entry level Dacia Duster offers really, really good value for money and is very cheap to run too, thanks to a range of efficient Renault engines. Very spacious too, making it perfect for the family without having to break the bank..
2. Skoda Scala
Skoda’s ‘budget’ hatchback is arguably the car truest to Skoda’s high-value, no-nonsense roots. The Scala is very practical and the engines are all economical. There is plenty of passenger space and boot space of 1,410-litres with seats down, 467-litres with them up. Take a look at our latest Skoda Scala leasing deals for the lowest monthly prices on this hard-working hatchback.
3. SsangYong Tivoli
The Tivoli offers a huge amount of space, and surprisingly good quality, for very reasonable money. Also the name comes from “I LOV IT” spelled backwards – which you will come to learn when you lease your own.
Best Electric Family Cars
1. MG ZS EV
Arguably the best value electric car available. Its 44.5kWh battery is far from the biggest, but the MG ZS has loads of space and drives nicely.
2. Hyundai Kona
A big battery, spacious body and lots of standard equipment make the Kona EV a brilliant electric family car.
3. VW ID.3
Volkswagen’s first proper electric model is very clever, really refined and packaged in such a way as to liberate lots of space from a relatively small body – you can expect 1,267-litres of boot space with the seats down. Our verdict? ID.3 leasing is highly recommended.
You’ll certainly find the best family car with Vanarama’s family leasing deals. Want more information? Find out more with our leasing guides or get in contact with us today.