Best family cars for 2020
By Adrian Porter
Article 16 of 16
Looking to buy a family car? Our experts have done the hard work for you. Our pick of the best family cars has a model to suit every budget.
Once upon a time, needing a practical family car meant looking for a people carrier (MPV), but thankfully that's no longer the case.
Our experts have selected the best family cars from a range of classes, including SUVs and small cars, as well as the best MPVs on test. All are safe, economical and spacious enough to fit everyone and their luggage.
Whether you'd prefer a high-riding SUV or a more discreet estate, there are plenty of suitable cars on our list. We'll help you choose a car that won't conk out part way through your driving holiday or put your family at risk due to inadequate safety ratings.
Scroll down to see our round-up of the best new, second-hand and electric family cars. Or, if you want more advice on what to look for in a family car, go to how to choose the best family car.
Best new family cars
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. Tested fuel economy isn't bad for an SUV, especially around town. Factor in excellent reliability, based on our in-depth survey of owners, and it’s a cracking hybrid car.
The latest version of this popular model ditches diesel altogether and is available solely as a petrol hybrid. That’s no bad thing at all. Not only is quiet and effortless to drive, it’s also proved very economical, with improved fuel consumption on the motorway – typically a weakness for hybrid models. Only a clunky infotainment system lets it down slightly.
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.
The best used family cars
Buying a used car can be a great way to save money, but you'll want to make sure that the vehicle 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 have Which? reliability ratings of four stars out of five or more for cars aged three to eight years old, so you can be a bit more confident in their longevity.
Best used family cars
This medium-sized estate is worth considering 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.
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.
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.
Family cars to avoid
Whether it's due to poor reliability, limited practicality or sub-standard safety, there are some family car models that will prove difficult to live with. Here are the models we recommend you avoid.
Family cars to avoid
This model caused quite the stir when it was launched in 2016. It's unique take on the seven-seat family car formula, great technology and relaxing driving experience have won it plenty of fans. However, owners are being left frustrated by its woeful reliability record, so we'd advise you proceed with caution.
This model has won plenty of fans with its no-frills approach to motoring. It’s a credible compact SUV, with just the basic equipment. Unfortunately that includes its active safety kit - an area we don’t think you should have to compromise on. With a three-star out of five Euro NCAP safety rating, it’s a definite Don't Buy.
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 it.
- 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 of.
Tips for buying a family car
Fitting your first child car seat?
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 on the different types of car seat and how to fit them. 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.
Need car seats for three or more children?
If you’re looking for a car that can get three or more car seats in, you’ll find that your 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 hard to come by 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 12 years old.
It's expensive, at £1,500 to £2,000, but is 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 more than 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.