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Best cars

Best family cars for 2020

By Adrian Porter

Article 16 of 16

Looking to buy the best family car? Our experts have done the hard work for you. Our pick of the best family cars has a car for every budget.

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

You might think that buying a family car means your only choice is getting a people carrier (MPV) - but that's not true at all.

Our expert pick of the best family cars come from a range of classes - from SUVs and small cars, as well as the best MPVs to come through our tests. All are safe, economical and spacious enough to fit in everyone and their luggage.

Whether you'd prefer an SUV or an estate, there are plenty of suitable cars on our best family cars list.

Of course, what you don't want to be left with is a car your family will quickly outgrow, or end up with a vehicle that conks out part way through your driving holiday. Worse of all - there are family cars available that have a low safety rating.

Scroll down to see our round-up of the best new, second-hand and electric family cars. If you want more advice on what to look for in a family car, use this link to jump to: how to choose the best family car

Which? members can log in to see the family cars we recommend. If you're not already a member, join Which? to unlock our best family cars and all of our independent, expert car reviews.

The best new family cars

Below our experts have selected the best cars for your family available to buy new.

Best new family cars

83%
£46,423
Reviewed

If you’re looking for an extremely well-made luxury hybrid SUV, this model is our highest scoring new hybrid overall. It’s not much of a mud-plugger, but it’s spacious, comfortable and incredibly refined. SUVs aren’t known for their fuel economy, and this SUV hybrid is no different. However, while it uses a lot of fuel on motorways, it can be surprisingly economical in town. Factor in excellent reliability, based on our in-depth survey of owners, and it’s a cracking hybrid car.

81%
£73,309
Reviewed

Imposingly large, yet with an agility that belies its enormity, this large SUV pulls off a seemingly impossible feat. It's not just super-fast in a straight line, it also corners with precision and confidence. It can also seat up to seven passengers in one of most comfortable, high-quality cabins we've come across. With such a diverse range of talents, it’s a definite Best Buy.

77%
£27,222
Reviewed

An outside choice to many, but this large car is unique in its adventurous styling and strikingly distinctive cabin. It's spacious, refined, extremely comfortable and has many features to surprise and delight you.

75%
£15,362
Reviewed

This small hybrid hatchback has all the practicality and ease of use of the standard combustion version, but with much-improved fuel economy. If you’re an urban driver, expect to make significant savings. It’s also one of the easiest small cars to get into and out of, and very reliable as it ages.

74%
£35,682
Reviewed

This huge (and hugely impressive) luxury model stands out from rivals by being sharper and more fun to drive than any enormous estate car has any right to be. This dynamism hasn't come at the expense of practicality or long distance comfort, either.

The best used family cars

Buying a used car can be a great way to save some money, but you'll want to make sure the car you buy is going to run for a few years yet.

Every year, we survey thousands of car owners to find out which models are the most - and least - reliable. The cars we've selected below all Which? reliability ratings of four stars out of five or more for cars aged three to eight years, so you can be a bit more confident in their longevity. 

Best used family cars

80%
£9,537
Reviewed

This oddly-shaped car sports superb engines, crisp handling and excellent dynamic feedback. Yet it's also superbly refined, with a composed ride and admirable noise suppression. It’s noticeably more practical than the model it’s based on, too.

75%
£6,674
Reviewed

It might not excite your soul, but in terms of family transport this hatchback is bang on the money. It’s spacious and safe, and is unlikely to let you down thanks to its exemplary reliability record. It’s a great all-round model, provided you don’t like to be thrilled behind the wheel.

75%
£9,980
Reviewed

This medium-sized estate should be considered as a family car, particularly if you’re not sold on a fashionable compact SUV. It’s spacious, practical and safe, and is unlikely to go wrong, thanks to the brand’s enviable rock-solid reliability rating from our survey of owners. It’s just a shame it’s so dull to look at and drive.

74%
£5,851
Reviewed

This supermini is a firm favourite with Which? members, and it’s now topped the satisfaction rankings for small cars. Aside from low running costs, it impressed with its quality, refinement and comfort. It also delivers on the practicality front, with a unique rear folding seat system.

73%
£4,265
Reviewed

Seven seats and robust dependability see this MPV ace our tests. Space is at a premium for those in the third row of seats, but its levels of equipment and safety make it a worthy Best Buy.

The best electric family car

Having a family doesn't mean you can't go green. As time goes on and more electric cars come to market, more models will join this list. In the meanwhile, here's what we recommend.

Best new electric family cars

74%
£28,244
Reviewed

Aside from the usual electric car compromises of a high purchase price and limited range (103 miles in our own independent tests), this car is a thoroughly practical and likeable electric compact crossover. Low day-to-day running costs (and government grants) should help ease the financial burden, however. So if your lifestyle and budget can accomodate this car, then it should certainly be considered.

How to choose the best family car for you 

Arguing over music, asking if we’re there yet and using sweets as bribes – and that was life before you had kids. When you’re blessed with the pitter-patter of little feet, you’re going to have to make sure you have a car that will fit your family and suit your lifestyle.

And ‘your lifestyle’ is the operative term. No family is identical, so it’s important to consider your specific needs. For instance:

  • Double or triple buggy? You need to make sure your boot can accommodate.
  • Looking after the last generation as well as the next one? Take extra care when assessing the amount of space the car offers, and how easy it is to get in and out.

Tips for buying a family car

Your first child?

Welcome to the dizzying world of age, weight or height rated car seats, something called Isofix and something newer called i-Size.

Before you head to a car dealership, you’ll want to do a bit of background reading. We have separate, simple guides that explain everything you need to know:

Remember, there’s nothing to stop you taking your seat and/or child to the dealership to make sure both fit.

Cars for three children or more?

Had even more children? If you’re looking for a car that can get three or more car seats in, you’ll find choice is limited.

But changing your car is expensive. And should the size of your brood increase unexpectedly, the finance needed to buy a new car could be more fleeting than ever.

But there is an alternative: the Multimac.

The Multimac is a bench of multiple car seats that is designed to fit into most medium-sized cars. You can get a Multimac with either three or four seats, and the manufacturer claims it can carry any combination of children - from birth up to twelve years old.

It's expensive, at £1,500 to £2,000, but an awful lot cheaper than buying a new car.

We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else

Every car we test goes through a combination of hundreds of lab tests and assessments, plus real road driving to make sure every Which? car review is informed and accurate.

Because our tests are performed in a controlled lab we can compare the results against different cars and scientifically determine which is better and why. This wealth of reliable information is used in conjunction with our extensive survey data.

Every year we send our car survey to over 100,000 car owners who tell us how reliable their car is and how satisfied they are with it. Only Which? uses this reliability data to inform reviews so you can buy with the confidence that comes with knowing which your car won't let you down.

You can join Which? to access all of our independent, expert car reviews.

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