These days manufacturers have starting putting loads into their baseline trims which means your budget will go a lot further when it comes to great features for your family car.

After all, you’ll likely be looking for a car with the latest safety equipment to give you that extra security and possibly the latest tech to keep everyone comfortable. We suggest that you also look for a car that is:

  • The owner of a high score in the Euro NCAP safety tests
  • Affordable and cheap to run
  • Spacious and comfortable
  • Kitted with useful family features

The Best Family Car Features

Often, it’s the smaller features that make a big difference to longer journeys and the daily school run. To keep the little ones happy in the back, it’s a good idea to look for a car that offers them a lot of room and plenty of storage space for their books, electronics and toys. Other excellent features to look out for include:

  • ISOFIX child-seat fixtures
  • Wide opening rear doors to easily add and remove child-seats
  • USB ports to keep electronic devices fully-charged
  • Air conditioning
  • Dual climate control
  • Electronic windows
  • A large boot with little to no lip for easier usage

Best Body Types for Budget Family Cars

There’s no one rule that fits all good family cars, but there are some general points worth considering. A good range of body types feature on this top 10 list, from cheap-to-run hatchbacks to ever popular SUVS, it’s good to bear the pros and cons of each in mind. Typically:

  • Hatchbacks offer good MPG and are cheap to buy and run, but might not provide the space you need or want
  • SUVS and MPVS have a raised driving position, extra space and storage, yet their bulkier frames usually incur higher running costs
  • Estates offer running costs closer to hatchbacks but with roomy cabins and boots similar to SUVs
  • Saloons tend to be larger than hatchbacks, but with a less practical boot opening

Top 10 Budget Family Cars

All the entry level models on our top 10 list come with rear seat ISOFIX fixtures and are on the market for less than £20k. In addition, every car (apart from two discussed later) scored five stars out of five in Euro NCAP safety tests. Read on to discover our best budget family cars.

1. Skoda Octavia

Winner of the best family car in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2018, the Skoda Octavia hatchback offers families lots of room in the cabin and plenty of excellent tech – even with the entry level model. If you opt for the basic S trim, you get a touchscreen infotainment system, air conditioning, electric front windows and stop/start technology. Pay the little extra for the next level trim (SE) and you get top notch features like dual climate control, rear parking sensors, driver fatigue sensors and more. The car has proven itself reliable over the years, with a great safety record. It’s also comfortable to drive. The Octavia really is the perfect budget family car.

Best features:

  • Good build quality
  • Very spacious cabin
  • Economical engines and cheap to run


The Dacia Logan is one of the cheapest family cars on the market and surprisingly you get a lot of car for its price. In fact, it’s a very spacious vehicle, with a massive 573-litre boot. Whilst the entry level model doesn’t have the features that families tend to want, the higher spec trims do and they’re reasonably priced – especially considering the low cost starting point. We’d recommend going for at least a mid-level trim or above just for the extra comfort for the driver and passengers alike. As a budget car, naturally the interior lacks the refinement of rivals, but this is easy to forgive given the cost. The main downside to this car is its low Euro NCAP rating, scoring only three stars out of five.

Best features:

  • Very low price
  • Cheap to run
  • Lots of space


Naturally, families will want to go for the five-door variant of the Ford Fiesta, as it makes the car a lot more practical for that purpose. Inside, this small car might not be as spacious as some of its rivals, but it provides more than enough space for families, especially those with younger children. The entry level model comes equipped with useful features like air conditioning and electric windows and the car’s low starting price is ideal for those on a budget. It’s also a cheap, economical car to run – and is fun to drive.

Best features:

  • Entry levels are well-equipped
  • Fun to drive
  • Good value for money


The Hyundai i30 is a versatile family hatchback that is both comfortable and effortless to drive. It might not be the most fun to drive on this list, but what it lacks in that department it more than makes up for in its ease of use. The entry level S trim comes with a DAB digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Opt for the next level SE trim and you’ll get an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As standard, the Hyundai i30 comes with some impressive safety tech too, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), a lane keeping assist with departure warnings and a driver attention alert system.

Best features:

  • Entry levels are very well-equipped
  • Comfortable
  • Good safety tech

5. Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf recently came in first place in our list of The Best Small Family Cars. It’s a practical car available as a three-door, five-door or estate. Of course, families will want to opt for either the five-door or the estate model for extra practicality, space and comfort. The VW Golf comes equipped with some excellent safety tech and lots of optional driver assists too. The basic level trim is reasonably equipped as standard but it’s worth upgrading to the SE trim to get useful features like front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and power-folding wing mirrors. You’ll find the Golf offers a composed driving experience with responsive handling, proving its worth as Europe’s most successful car.

Best features:

  • Iconic and good to drive
  • Excellent safety tech
  • Great value for money


The Honda Civic came in third place in our list of The Best Small Family Cars. It’s a reliable vehicle that comes with essential equipment as standard. With the entry level model, you’ll get impressive kit such as climate control with automatic air conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and more. The Civic drives well too, with precise steering tackling bendy roads with particular finesse. In addition, the car has good fuel economy and a huge 478-litre boot. The Honda Civic proves good value for money and doesn’t depreciate badly either, no doubt because it’s proven itself as a reliable motor over the years.

Best features:

  • Great reliability
  • Good fuel economy
  • Excellent equipment as standard

7. PEUGEOT 308

The Peugeot 308 is a practical and spacious vehicle for smaller families with young children, especially as it has a huge 470-litre boot. The car has low day-to-day running costs and proves good value for money too. For those on a tight budget, the entry level trim comes with a DAB radio, air conditioning and cruise control, all at a reasonably low price compared to rivals. There’s also a fantastic range of optional driver assists, like blind spot monitoring for extra safety and security. However, if you have a family with older children or young adults, you may find the car uncomfortable and the rear seats a bit cramped.

Best features:

  • Entry level model is good value for money
  • Low running costs
  • 470 litre boot space


The Renault Captur is one of the best small crossovers on the market. The car’s soft suspension ensures the ride is comfortable even on the most pot-hole ridden road, and it’s a relaxed cruiser on the motorway too. The interior provides plenty of head height, with generous amounts of legroom for kids in the back. The rear seat bench moves forwards and backwards easily, so you can adjust the passenger and boot space to suit your needs. The Captur also comes armed with lots of useful tech and safety kit as standard – something that families will appreciate.

Best features:

  • Well-equipped as standard
  • Adjustable rear seat bench
  • Stylish appearance and good value


One of the best selling cars in Britain, the Nissan Qashqai is a family-friendly SUV that’s comfortable, easy to drive and very practical. The car offers plenty of interior space, brilliant suspension for a smooth journey and a higher ride height to give you an excellent view of the road and cars ahead. The basic trim level has all the essentials that families look for, from DAB radio, to Bluetooth technology, electric windows and air conditioning. You also get cruise control, stop/start technology and more. The only reason this car isn’t placed much higher is because hatchbacks tend to be cheaper on fuel and often prove more practical when it comes to parking and driving around town. Nevertheless, if you really want an SUV, the Qashqai is excellent value for money.

Best features:

  • Comfortable and practical
  • Well-equipped as standard
  • Economical engines

10. Dacia Duster

If you’ve set your heart on a family SUV, but would like a more budget-friendly option, you can’t go wrong with the Dacia Duster. Like the Dacia Logan, the Duster is a budget car that’s far better than its starting price suggests. Available as a 4×2 or a 4×4 version that’s surprisingly capable off-road, the Duster offers enough room in the back for three tall adults, and a decent boot providing over 400 litres of space. Again, like the Logan, the entry level trim is basic, but mid-spec trims prove well-priced and affordable. However, the Dacia Duster also follows in the footsteps of the Logan in terms of safety, scoring only three stars out of five in Euro NCAP tests.

Best features:

  • Very cheap to purchase
  • Stylish looks
  • Plenty of space

If you’re after an affordable family car then look no further – you’ll find a great range of cars that are budget friendly at

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Back to articles May 24, 2021

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