A good family car needs to do a lot of things well – thankfully there are some great models on the market that offer space, practicality, value for money and low running costs. As a bonus, many are appealing to drive and attractive to look at. We’ve picked the best used family cars on sale, to help find the right car for you.
For more options, check out our list of the best overall used cars or, for something a little chunkier, read our list of the best used SUVs. Not fussed about new or used? See our list of the best new family cars.
1. Skoda Octavia
The Skoda Octavia is truly a vast hatchback. It looks like a saloon, but comes with a rear hatch opening offering easy access to a huge 590-litre boot – the largest in its class. Its vast boot capacity doesn’t mean interior space has been sacrificed, however, with loads of room for passengers.
The many cubby holes and clever features – such as an ice scraper in the fuel filler door – also make it an ideal family car. The interior feels solid, even cheaper trim levels get lots of kit and the car undercuts rivals such as the VW Golf – which it shares many parts with – on price. It feels refined to drive and the engines are both punchy and quiet with impressive economy figures.
2. Kia Cee’d
With a mix of striking looks, strong practicality and great value for money, the Kia Cee’d is one of the best all-rounders in the competitive hatchback class. The car’s plush-feeling interior comes with loads of equipment and tech, while the space on offer is mightily impressive.
The 380-litre boot is generous and will easily handle large family shops or camping trips. On the road, the Cee’d is easy and refined to drive if not massively exciting. It’s slightly cheaper than rivals and none can come close to Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranty, which is transferable across owners.
3. Honda Civic
The Honda Civic is a practical and spacious family hatchback, with a roomy 478-litre boot and a cabin that’ll comfortably seat four people. The well-built interior is smothered in plush plastics, while there’s plenty of equipment and Honda’s Magic Seat system to allow transporting taller items.
Striking looks make the Civic an eye-catching hatch but do limit visibility and interior space a bit. A good range of frugal engines make it a great motorway cruiser, particularly with the 1.6-litre diesel that can return up to 78.5mpg. With a new model expected for 2017, prices on the used market are likely to be competitive.
4. Nissan Qashqai
The Nissan Qashqai is one of the most comfortable and practical small SUVs on sale, so it’s hardly surprising the car is one of the most popular in the UK. The crossover received a full five-star safety rating, scoring particularly highly in child protection categories. Inside, the cabin feels well-built and there’s lots of equipment as standard, including two Isofix child seat points.
There’s a generous amount of interior space and a large 430-litre boot, increasing to 1,585 litres with the rear seats folded down. On the road, the Qashqai feels poised and polished, while the peppy engines are frugal – returning as much as 70mpg. The current model has been out for a little while, so there are some great used deals on the market.
5. Ford Focus
The Ford Focus is known for its fun handling and driver appeal. The hatchback feels poised and smooth on the road, with agile steering and limited body roll. The car looks neat but does seem a little dated next to its VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra rivals. The below-average 380-litre boot is made up for by respactable interior space.
Cabin quality can’t quite match the VW Golf, but it’s not far off and standard equipment is generous as well. There’s a wide range of strong engines, with the cheapest to run being the 1.5-litre diesel – returning around 83.1mpg. Priced new from £16,445 for the lowest trim level, the current model has been around a little while so there’ll be some good used car deals.
6. Suzuki Vitara
The Suzuki Vitara is a mid-sized SUV with plenty of room for a growing family and a good-value price. Alongside chunky looks, there’s a rugged and well-built cabin featuring a large amount of standard equipment and a generous amount of space – including a 375-litre boot.
But while it isn’t the most inspiring to look at, the Vitara impresses with off-road ability and – more surprisingly – on-road fun. It’s a pleasant car to drive, helped by a range of punchy engines – the Vitara S has a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but the 1.6-litre diesel is cheaper to run. The current model hasn’t been around long but there are still deals to be had with nearly new Vitaras.
7. VW Golf
The VW Golf is a great all-rounder with smart looks, a well-built and high-quality interior and plenty of interior space. It features one of the best interiors in its class, with a wide range of standard equipment across all trim levels and one of the easiest touchscreen infotainment systems out there.
Its 380-litre boot isn’t class leading but is generous and well shaped. There are some great engines from the VW group, including the smooth 1.4-litre turbo petrol and the frugal 2.0-litre diesel. There’s a fully electric e-Golf and plug-in hybrid GTE for those who want a car with a greener footprint. In all specs, though, it’s a great car to drive on the road.
8. Vauxhall Astra
The Vauxhall Astra runs the Golf close in the mid-sized hatchback class. It’s a wonderful all-round car, with a large amount of cabin room, a 370-litre boot that easily beats the Ford Focus and decent levels of head and legroom throughout.
The cabin has a plush, solid feel and standard equipment is generous too. On the road, the Astra handles well and feels comfortable on both country lanes and motorways. It’s cheap to run, particularly with the 1.6-litre diesel engine, which can return 76.3mpg, and there are some strong engines available.
9. Citroen C4 Cactus
The Citroen C4 Cactus is one of the quirkiest crossovers on the market, rivalling the Nissan Juke for unusual looks and unique charm. But the C4 Cactus is also practical, with generous amounts of interior space – although room in the back is a bit tight for taller passengers – and equipment.
The car is smart inside and out, although material quality isn’t consistent. It’s not particularly exciting to drive, but its handling is pleasant and the car is very economical. The 1.2-litre petrol is punchy and cheap to run, while the diesels are more frugal but a little more expensive. Priced from £12,990 for the entry-level C4 Cactus, the small crossover is good value for money.
10. SEAT Leon
The SEAT Leon is a striking hatchback with sharp looks and strong practicality. It rivals the closely related Golf for space, with plenty of room for a growing family and a spacious 380-litre boot. The cabin isn’t quite on par with the Golf, but it’s well built and has lots of equipment as standard.
It’s a safe family car, too, with a five-star Euro NCAP rating. On the road, it feels a little sportier than some rivals and handles well. Visibility isn’t quite as strong, thanks to the angular rear roof pillars. Fuel economy can be as high as 85.6mpg with the 1.6-litre diesel. For a car with such smart looks and a smaller price, it’s great value for money.
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