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Choosing the right car can be tough, especially when looking for a small family model. This type of car is big in the market at the moment and its popularity means there are lots of brands to choose from, as well as different body types including hatchbacks, crossovers and estates – making the decision even harder. Before committing to a purchase, you’ll want to make sure that you pick a vehicle which is:

  • Suited to your needs
  • Reliable
  • Easy to drive
  • Comfortable
  • Small, but spacious
  • Safe

Features of the Best Small Family Cars

Unsurprisingly, the best small family cars tick all of the above. They also offer low day-to-day running costs with good miles per gallon. You’ll be pleased to know that all of the current models in this top 10 list provide just that. They also feature the following:

  • A 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating
  • Great safety kit and tech
  • Good fuel economy
  • Good storage space
  • Comfortable cabins
  • Decent sized boot space for shopping and groceries

Other Useful Features

It’s also worth looking out for some other features to make journeys more comfortable for the entire family. To ensure optimum comfort, try looking for cars with:

  • Air conditioning
  • USB ports to keep electronic devices fully charged
  • Electric windows
  • ISOFIX fittings for child seats
  • Five doors to make it easier for kids getting in and out

With all of these points in mind, take a moment to jot down what you’re looking for in your ideal car. Next, read on to discover the top 10 best small family cars on the market.

1. Volkswagen Golf

Available as a 3-door, 5-door and estate, the Volkswagen Golf is a practical car ideal for small families. The entry-level S trim offers a reasonable amount of equipment, such as air conditioning, electric windows, Bluetooth and a DAB radio. Upgrade to the SE trim and you’ll get much more for your money, with front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and power-folding wing mirrors. It’s an iconic car with a great selection of engines and an upmarket appeal. You’ll also find the Volkswagen Golf a pleasure to drive. It’s great around corners, with secure and precise handling, and it’s smooth and comfortable on longer journeys. It really is the small hatchback of choice for families.

Best features:

  • Iconic and affordable
  • Most successful car in Europe
  • Good fuel economy

2. Ford Focus

The Ford Focus has consistently been a great car to drive and the all-new Ford Focus is no different. Small families should look to the entry-level Zetec model, which comes with cruise control, alloy wheels, a DAB radio and Apple CarPlay. Or, if you’re looking for extra comfort and extravagance, check out the Titanium and Titanium X trims. One of the very few downsides to the Ford Focus is the boot size. At 317 litres, its boot is smaller than most of its rivals, like the VW Golf’s 380 litres. However, the rear seats can fold to provide more space when needed, but then, competitors can boast the same.

Best features:

  • Excellent safety equipment
  • Fun to drive
  • Great value

3. Honda Civic

Honda has a great reputation for reliability, and older models of the Civic have held true to that reputation. The new Honda Civic continues to impress with good fuel economy and excellent equipment as standard. The base-level SE trim offers useful tech for families, like front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and climate control with automatic air conditioning. Nevertheless, it’s worth upgrading to the SR trim to get a rear parking camera, DAB radio and Apple CarPlay. In the driving department, the Honda Civic provides a comfortable ride. It really comes into its own on B-roads, with quick, precise steering adding extra fun.

Best features:

  • Very reliable
  • Stylish exterior
  • 478-litre boot

4. Audi A3 Sportback

One of the best family cars of 2017 and remaining a firm favourite well into 2018 is the Audi A3 Sportback. The Sportback, being the 5-door variant of the A3 hatchback, really speaks for itself as a family car given that it has the best space for shopping and luggage. You’ll find that this car is typical of the Audi brand with a luxurious cabin that’s both spacious and comfortable. It’s fun to drive, and entry-level models come with a good amount of standard equipment too. In addition, Audi cars have proven to hold their value extremely well over the years, making it a family investment as well as a family car.

Best features:

  • Holds value
  • Comfortable cabin
  • Iconic brand

5. Skoda Octavia

Available as a hatchback or an estate with 20 litres of extra boot space, the Skoda Octavia has proven itself as a practical family car scoring highly in reviews. Whilst it’s not as fun to drive as the other cars higher-placed on this list, the Octavia offers the largest interior in its class. It’s comfortable, cheap to run and has a proud history of being reliable and safe. There’s a decent selection of engines to choose from and good levels of tech too. Inside, the car is sturdy and solid looking, providing an excellent driving position and lots of head and leg room for all passengers.

Best features:

  • Incredibly spacious
  • 590-litre boot
  • Good value for money

6. Seat Leon

The Seat Leon comes as a 3-door SC model, an ST estate, or as a 5-door – the best choice for families. This model looks stylish and offers lots of space, being outclassed in that department only by the Skoda Octavia. The car provides plenty of leg and head room and a great 380-litre boot. It also comes with useful safety features such as blind spot detection, parking assist and a full set of airbags. ISOFIX points on the rear seats make it easier to add and remove child seats, too.  The Seat Leon is a really fun car to drive, and scores well in terms of reliability.

Best features:

  • Good MPG
  • Spacious interior
  • Fun to drive

7. Mazda 3

One of the great selling points of the Mazda 3 is its brilliant amount of standard kit. The car comes with a seven-inch touchscreen multimedia infotainment system, a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, electric windows, air conditioning, emergency brake assist and more. The boot space is good at 364 litres, and the interior is solid and sturdy too. It’s a stylish, sporty-looking car with great handling that’s balanced and predictable, making it a fun and agile drive. If you’re looking to buy a used car, you can also find lots of Mazda 3 options on the used car market.

Best features:

  • Stylish and reliable
  • Excellent standard kit
  • Fun to drive

8. Vauxhall Astra

Inside the cabin, the Vauxhall Astra is surprisingly spacious, even with the backseats occupied by children or adults. Team that space with a 370-litre boot, low running costs, good MPG and an affordable starting price and you get a small family car that stands up to the competition. Whilst reliability hasn’t always stood the test of time for previous models, older Astras can still prove excellent value for money considering their cheap starting price. With several new models, there are several trim options to choose from. To get the best out of the car, those with families should consider paying the extra for the SRI trim. It’s the most popular model in the Vauxhall Astra range and it’s easy to see why. Check out the useful equipment and driver assists the SRI comes with in the review linked to below.

Best features:

  • Affordable to buy and run
  • Well-equipped as standard
  • Good to drive

9. Volvo V40

Designed to compete with leading small family cars like the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3 Sportback, the Volvo V40 manages to put in a mighty effort. It’s stylish and practical with a competitive boot space, and the entry-level trim comes with a good range of equipment, such as climate control, a DAB radio and a 5-inch infotainment system. Where the V40 comes into its own is with its impressive safety features. It comes as standard with an under-bonnet pedestrian airbag (a world first), and a crash avoidance system. Opt for the Driver Support Pack and you’ll receive a safety kit with features like full-speed collision warning, lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring – perfect for keeping you and your family safe and sound.

Best features:

  • Well- equipped as standard
  • Cheap to run
  • Great safety kit

10. Kia Ceed

Like the Volvo V40, the Kia Ceed puts in a brilliant effort as a worthy small family car. It’s an affordable hatchback that comes with lots of standard equipment, such as a reversing camera, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Small families should consider opting for the higher spec 3 trim to get extra safety kit and plenty of driver assists. For storage, the car proves practical and has a huge 395-litre boot. However, also like the Volvo V40, the Ceed drops points to its rivals in the driving department. The V40 and the Ceed are not bad to drive, but, in our opinion, they aren’t as engaging or fun as other cars on this list. However, in both vehicles it’s somewhat of an easy trade-off for small families considering their affordable price and wealth of equipment and safety kit.

Best features:

  • Spacious and comfortable cabin
  • Good value for money
  • Lots of standard kit
Back to articles January 3, 2019

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