Best family cars for 2021
Once upon a time, needing the most practical family car meant looking for a boxy people carrier (MPV), but thankfully that's no longer the case.
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 the section below on choosing the best family car.
The best new family cars
Below, our experts have selected the best new cars for your family.
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.
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.
How to choose the best family car for you
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
Click on the three tabs below to reveal our top tips for buying a family car including checking the boot and rear space.
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
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 .