Whether you’re after an affordable hatchback or after a SUV, our top 10 list reveals what we think are the best family vehicles to buy in 2021.
So what makes a good family car? Car manufacturers have found that building the best family vehicle is getting more and more challenging, as both motorists and their children are asking for a huge amount from these vehicles. Families want a vehicle which is practical, cheap to run, comfortable to drive and offers the latest safety and in-car technology.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and so do family cars. Looking at a range of SUV’s, hatchbacks, saloons and estates, our list identifies the best family cars on the market right now.
1. Skoda Superb
Skoda has a perfected the art of understanding their customers’ needs and are consistently at the front of the race when it comes to providing families with the exact car they need.
The previous model of the Skoda Superb already offered families plenty of legroom and comfort, but they have now made the new version even bigger as well as appealing to environmentally conscious buyers with the addition of the iV plug-in hybrid version.
The Skoda Superb delivers 215bhp and has potential for 34 miles of all-electric, zero-emission running. Providing you keep the battery topped up then running costs should be very low, as the vehicle can deliver up to 217.3mpg and has CO2 emissions as low as 30g/km. One downside with the iV model is that the boot space is compromised by the positioning of the car’s battery but you still get a very useful 485 litres which should meet most families storage needs.
The interior of the Skoda Superb is possibly the best interior its ever made. Everything has been laid out in a sensible, logical and easy to follow format. The technology fitted is impressive too. The top-of-the-range models are fitted with a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system that mirrors either Apple or Android smartphones. The entry level SE model includes two-zone air-conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding mirrors and front and rear electric windows. An 8-inch colour touchscreen incorporates DAB radio and Bluetooth phone connectivity is also included with the SE model.
The latest Skoda Superb is the most technologically advanced Skoda ever built. Some of the clever driver support systems include blind-spot assist and lane-keeping assistance. The car comes with seven standard airbags which contributed towards it getting the maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating.
Visit our Skoda Superb deals here.
2. Volvo XC40
Volvo’s XC40 is one of the most popular small SUV’s on the market at present, and it certainly turns a lot of heads. The XC40 is a spacious and sophisticated premium car with a luxurious interior, is a quiet ride, has a generous supply of connectivity and is at the top of it’s market for safety features too. It also blends Volvo’s typical virtues like comfort and space with a high driving position and in-town manoeuvrability of a small SUV.
The XC40 has well thought out storage features as well, such as the central armrest which features a removable section which can work as a small waste paper bin – perfect for helping the children to tidy away the wrappings from snacks! In addition, the large shaped boot offers a pop-up divider to help hold shopping bags in place. Both front-seat and rear-seat passengers also benefit from having plenty of space too.
Constantly striving to improve safety, Volvo offers a host of safety and driver assistance features on the XC40, making it one of the most competitively equipped compact SUVs around. Building on the systems already available on the larger Volvo SUVs, standard features on the new XC40 include City safety autonomous emergency braking and oncoming lane mitigation for steering assistance, if you accidentally drift towards oncoming traffic. The XC40 was awarded the maximum five stars from Euro NCAP for safety.
View our latest Volvo XC40 deals here.
3. Hyundai Ioniq
Hyundai took a novel approach with the Ioniq - if we’re going to sell a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and an electric car, then why not make them the same vehicle? It’s a green car you can have in three states of electrification: a hybrid model with a petrol engine combined with an electric motor, a plug-in hybrid – that’s basically the same as the hybrid but with a bigger battery that you can charge externally for more range – and a pure electric vehicle (EV). What will appeal to environmentally conscious families is that all versions of the Ioniq have low or even zero Co2 emissions. Plus it’s cheap to run and easy to drive around town.
There’s plenty of room to be found in the front seats, so much so that two tall adults shouldn’t have any complaints. The rear seats also have enough leg room to accommodate taller passengers. The Ioniq has different boot capacities depending on which model you choose. The hybrid model has a deeper 550-litre loadbay, compared with 455 litres for the electric model, on account of its bigger battery pack.
As standard, infotainment is provided by an 8.0 inch touchscreen. Models above the entry-level have a 10.25 inch touchscreen system. You create your own home screen with all of your most-used functions and the infotainment system is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Included is a host of connected services called ‘Bluelink’ which has some useful functionality such as displaying how busy car-parks are in your area and also helping you find vacant charging points on plug-in hybrid and electric Ioniqs. On cold mornings you can set the climate control remotely and pre-heat the interior, which the children will appreciate on early morning school runs. All models also have a 7.0 inch digital instrument cluster putting useful information in front of you.
If you’re working to a budget, the Ioniq is a great alternative to the Toyota Prius. If you’re looking for a first-rate family car which is safe, you can be reassured by the full five-star rating which Euro NCAP assigned to the Ioniq. Typical safety features include lane departure warning system with lane keep assist, smart adaptive cruise control and eCall, which calls assistance should the airbags be deployed or the eCall button is pressed.
View our latest Hyundai Ioniq deals here.
4. Volkswagen Golf
The VW Golf bridges two worlds, those of mainstream family cars and their pricier, premium alternatives. The latest Golf, much like its predecessors, is a car anyone would be happy to be seen in. Up to eight generations of the VW Golf has provided families with affordable, practical and high-quality transport.
The MK8’s engine range has been revised to include a new mild-hybrid option, while the diesels are more cleaner. If you’re looking for the most efficient version of the Golf which is the cheapest to run then we’d suggest the 128bhp 1.5-litre TSI model – the performance is also more than adequate. For those wanting a diesel version there are the 113bhp and 148bhp 2.0 TDI models.
The Golf has plenty of head room to accommodate even exceedingly tall passengers and you can push the front seats back enough to provide ample space to passengers with long legs. In the rear, even six-foot passengers can sit very comfortably and there’s more space in the rear that’s found in a BMW 1 Series. The front door pockets are both big enough to store a 500ml bottle of water and there are two cupholders in the centre console. In front of the gear selector there’s a handy tray for your phone to rest, which includes wireless charging. In addition, you’ll also find a useful storage bin under the front centre armrest, plus there's a decent-sized, air-conditioned glovebox.
The MK8 Golf’s is fitted with a 10-inch infotainment system which includes lots of handy features such as wireless phone charging, built-in sat nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
Each model of the Golf is packed full of the latest safety tech. A semi-autonomous function allows the Golf to accelerate, steer and brake on motorways at speeds – where legal – of up to 130mph. Intriguingly, the Golf is the first VW to feature Car2x technology which enables connected cars and infrastructure (such as traffic lights) to communicate with each other. Doing so enables such devices to collect information which can be combined to generate real-time live data showing traffic, breakdowns, weather or approaching emergency vehicles. Standard safety tech on the Golf also includes adaptive cruise control, a dynamic road sign display system and lane assist.
View our latest VW Golf deals here.
5. Seat Leon
The fourth-generation Seat Leon is essentially a VW Golf in matador fancy dress! Unsurprisingly, Spain’s family hatch is closer than it has ever been to it’s German cousin as they share engines, interiors and tech. Except the Seat Leon costs less money and has a bit more of a handsome and distinctive style than the ultra-conservative Golf. All versions of the Leon come with five-doors as standard. You also get a larger version in comparison to the predecessor which is 9cm shorter overall. There’s a choice of engines which range from ‘does-the-job-well-enough’ to inducing a smile with brisk acceleration.
You can choose from a range of trims, from the more modest SE to the luxurious Xcellence trim. Impressively, the entry-level SE trim comes is packed with an 8.3 inch touchscreen, a DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, as well as a seven-speaker sound system and two USB-C ports. Higher trim levels come with a 10 inch touchscreen, built-in sat-nav and natural voice recognition.
There’s plenty of head room in the front of the Leon and you can slide the seats back long enough for the tallest of people to feel comfortable. Passengers in the rear get more leg room than the back of a VW Golf, and remarkably, the Leon beats the Skoda Octavia for rear seat space.
The Leon is packed with some of the latest safety features such as blind spot detection to help spot cars outside of your vision – combined with exit assist you can avoid potential collisions with other vehicles when operating the driver or passenger doors. Emergency Assist will detect when there’s no input from the driver and it will automatically take control, keeping the car in lane and activating the hazard lights. Euro NCAP awarded the Leon with the maximum five-star rating.
View our latest Seat Leon deals here.
6. Mercedes A-class
If there’s one badge which encapsulates the UK’s desire for an upmarket brand it’s the Mercedes-Benz-A-Class. Back in 2018, the A-Class was the eight best selling car in the UK with just over 43,000 sales, making it the country’s most popular ‘premium’ car. That places the A-Class ahead of it’s sternest competitors: the BMW 1 Series and the Audi A3.
There are two body styles to choose from, hatchback and saloon. Most UK buyers will opt for the five-door hatchback, even though the four-door version is one of the most attractive compact saloons on sale. The A-Class has one of the smartest interiors Mercedes has to offer and the infotainment system is possibly one of the best on the market at any price. There are seven trim levels, starting with the entry level SE (not available with the saloon model) which has 16-inch alloy wheels, heated half artificial leather/half fabric seats and a pair of 7 inch digital screens – one for the dials, the other for the infotainment system.
You’re unlikely to hear grumbles about space from the front, even if the driver or passenger towers over most of their friends and colleagues. The seats slide back a long way and there’s plenty of head room. Anyone over six feet tall will have adequate space in the rear. To address criticism of the size of the boot of the A-Class predecessor, Mercedes has addressed the concern by taking the total up to 370-litres.
All versions of the A-Class are loaded with the latest safety technology such as: forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, auto headlights and a whole host of airbags. Also included is ‘Mercedes me connect’ which is an in-built system keeping the driver within easy contact of approved breakdown services as well as contacting emergency services in the event of a serious accident. When assessed by Euro NCAP back in 2018 the A-Class was awarded the maximum five-star safety rating. Adult and child occupant protection scored an impressive 96% and 91% respectively.
View our latest Mercedes deals here.
6. Peugeot 508 Fastback or SW Estate
If you need a larger family car, the Peugeot 508 could be the model just for you. Both the Fastback and SW versions of the 508 are sure to turn heads as they are radically stylish and sporty on the outside, more so than Skoda Octavia, Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class.
The 508’s interior certainly can’t be classed as boring either as its i-Cockpit dashboard features a fully customisable 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charging and a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system. In addition, it features full support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 360-degree surround view parking system, a 3D satellite navigation system and plenty of USB charging ports in the front and rear. The Focal 10-speaker audio system has a premium sound and there’s a range of ambient settings which include mood lighting and a variety of massage functions.
Space in the front of both the Fastback and SW models is good but if you often carry adults in the rear you should opt for the estate version. There’s an abundance of space in the boot of the Fastback model, with the hatch styled roof lending itself to 1,537-litres when the rear seats are laid flat.
There’s plenty of safety features which include, but not limited to driver alert warnings, lane keep assist with steering wheel feedback, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist and LED headlights. Euro NCAP bestowed the 508 with its maximum five-star rating.
View our latest Peugeot 508 deals here.
8. BMW 3 Series Touring
This version of the iconic BMW 3 series is one of the most attractive estate cars on the market and accounts for nearly one in three 3-series sold in the UK. The 3 series Touring range runs from the 318d to the M340i. Having driven both the 320d and 330d versions, the latest 3-series Touring is going to take some beating, as from the moment I started the engine through to accelerating out into traffic they were both a delight to drive.
The Touring’s interior is a total tech-fest. The top end BMW Live Cockpit Professional gives you a 10.25 inch central touchscreen display and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, the new BMW Operating System 7.0’ infotainment system and the new BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which is effectively a ‘Hey BMW’ voice-control interface. If that wasn’t enough there’s also a heads-up display, iDrive rotary controller/touchpad and up to 7 gesture controls.
The BMW 3 Series Touring is roomy inside has more than ample space in its big boot to accommodate everyone’s luggage. Each of the four door bins are large enough to carry a 500ml bottle. You can store a few large smartphones under the central armrest and the two hidden cupholders by the gearstick can carry large service-station coffees. There’s also a 12V socket and a USB port with space to store you phone while it’s charging. The rear seats have access to a pair of USB ports.
View our latest BMW deals here.
9. Kia e-Niro
The Kia e-Niro is one of the best vehicles of its type on the market and makes great family transport. This family SUV, which is purely electric, features a 64kWh battery in its floor and a 201bhp electric motor at the front, which delivers 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds, making it as fast as a hot hatchback. Charging capability is very good as it only takes just under 10 hours for a full-charge when using a home wallbox. With the claimed 282-mile radius, you might need to only charge this once a week.
Front seat passengers will be comfortable enough and the driver’s seat comes with a useful 8-way power adjustment and lumbar support, which provides extra support on long journeys. There’s lots of interior storage space and the boot has a generous 451-litres. If you have small children the rear doors have wide openings which makes it a doddle for getting a car seat in.
The e-Niro is fantastic value for money in comparison to other mid-sized electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3. The standard equipment includes leather upholstery, heated seats, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and wireless phone charging. There’s also a vast array of active safety systems.
The e-Niro is one of the finest electric vehicles on sale and is so impressive it won the Eco Award at the 2019 carwow Car of Year awards. Combine this with Kia’s seven year warranty, it makes for an excellent choice of a family car.
View our latest Kia e-Niro deals here.
10. Ford Focus
Despite the ever increasing amount of SUV’s parking up on family driveways in the UK, the Ford Focus remains an extremely popular and important car as it ever has. The Focus is now in its fourth generation and this model was designed to evoke memories of the original. Ford have even gone on to say that they think this is the best car they have ever designed, developed and manufactured.
In terms of comfort, two tall adults would have a comfortable amount of leg and head room in the front seats, while the driver gets a good amount of manual seat and steering wheel adjustment. It’s fair to say that the Focus knocks most of its competitors out the park, with the exception of Skoda’s Octavia when it comes to space in the rear. At least two adults can sit comfortably behind the front two. The boot space is a decent 375-litres which is slightly larger than the Mercedes A-Class and the Audi A3.
The entry-level Zetec models come with an 8-inch touchscreen, voice-recognition technology, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring. From ST-Line X models up to the top of the range Vignale you get sat-nav. Also from the ST-Line X upwards is a 4.3 colour instrument cluster for clearer driving information while you’re on the move. You also have the option to add a wireless smartphone charging pad to all but the entry-level models for a fairly small amount of money.
Ford are very proud of the vast amount of safety kit available in the Mk4. Some of the safety features include automatic headlights which are able to follow road markings round bends and aim accordingly, and can also identify junctions and roundabouts and broaden their beams to light them. The self-parking is more intelligent too, provided you have the new eight-speed double-clutch gearbox option. The Evasive Steering Assist applies helpful efforts to the steering wheel when attempting to avoid something that's suddenly blocking your way.
View our latest Ford Focus deals here.
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