Transporting your little ones from A to B safely and in comfort can be a challenge if you don’t have the right family vehicle. How safe will you all be? How challenging will be getting the children in and out of the car? Will the boot fit the pram or prams?

Because there are lots of things you should consider when buying a family car, here’s our checklist so you find the best one for yours.

What’s the ideal family car like?

Every family is different and will have its preferences. But anyone travelling with children will know that some musts are common and we’re going to tell you all about them so you can find your perfect family car.

Here’s a quick checklist of things you should look for in a family car:

  • Affordable price based on your budget
  • What do you need it for? How will you drive it?
  • Great safety ratings
  • Practicality
  • Quality
  • Car seat compatibility
  • Plenty of space and storage
  • Economical to drive

If you need some ideas, we’ve got plenty of guides and expert advice. You can check out our best large family cars, the best budget family cars, our choice of best small family cars and the best family-friendly SUVs.

Top Tips to consider when buying a family car

Buying a family car involves much more than just picking the car you love. This vehicle will take your family on the school run, shopping trips, holidays and weekend adventures. And for that reason, it needs to tick a few boxes.

Let us help you find your perfect family car with these useful tips.

1. What’s your budget?

Knowing how much money you want or can spend is key when buying a car for your family. Whether you’re buying new or used, having a budget will help you narrow down the choices and make sure you get the best you can afford.

Although not always, family cars tend to be pricier than smaller city cars or hatchbacks as they tend to be bigger. But there are plenty of good affordable family cars out there. You just need to be a bit savvy to find that model that fits the bill for the whole family.

2. What do you need the car for?

Yes, you will use the car to take your family and children around. But, what type of trips will you do with them? Will you be mostly doing the school run, trips to the supermarket and visits to friends? Or your adventure-loving family loves long road trips, camping adventures and getting off-the-beaten-track? The type of family car you’ll need will be very different in each case.

Your perfect family car could be a hatchback or a big SUV, depending on the type of driving you’ll be doing. So think well before you commit to a model. And read our bodystyle guide article if you want to know more about them.

Another guide that may be useful is our article on what to consider when choosing a car. It’s jam-packed with everything you need to know.

3. Safety

Safety is always important. But when you’re carrying your whole family then you shouldn’t compromise on it. To be fair, most modern cars (new or used) are quite safe and things like airbags and ISOFIX points for children seats tend to be standard in family cars.

However, you may want to think about buying a car for your family that’s packed with other safety and security features:

  • Auto-emergency braking – the car will stop itself if you’re going to hit something in front of you
  • Blind-spot monitoring – a light on the side mirror that will tell you if there is a car in your blind spot
  • Lane departure warnings – the car will beep if you veer off out of your lane
  • Reverse parking cameras
  • 360-degree cameras – not super common but they will show you all around your car, which may be handy.
  • Adaptative cruise control – which will keep you safer

In any case, the easiest way to find a car with great safety credentials is to check its Euro NCAP rating. This European standard for car safety grades all models from 0 to 5 depending on how they perform in crash tests and their safety features. Going for a car with 5 Euro NCAP stars is a safe bet.

4. Space

Almost every parent would agree that space is a really important thing to consider when buying a family car. Not only because of the prams, the extra luggage and the shopping bags but also because children car seats are also quite bulky.

So stop and think. How many children do you have? Will you want to have any more? How many prams do you have to carry around? Do you have any pets? All of these will require plenty of extra space, especially when prams seem to be getting bigger and bulkier every year.

As guidance, we’d recommend looking for family cars with a minimum of 300 litres of boot space. That way everybody and everything will fit comfortably.

5. Seats and car child seat compatibility

How many bums do you need to sit in your car? Will that number stay the same or you’re planning on growing the family? Think carefully and make sure you don’t buy a five-seater if you want to have a big family down the line.

Another important thing to consider when thinking about seats in family cars is the presence of ISOFIX fixing points for children seats. Depending on their age, your kids may need to use them for a few good years and you want to ensure they’re strapped as safely as possible.

6. Functionality & Practicality

Family cars are expected to be functional and practical. That is because when you’re carrying your family your needs will be very different from the ones you had a solo driver or as a couple.

We’d advise you to pick a car that’s durable and hard-wearing enough to manage the day-to-day of little fingerprints, stains, tears and tantrums. It’s also a wise choice to pick a family vehicle that’s easy to clean and to keep tidy.

At the same time, when buying a family car you may want to think about other features such as smartphone integration or touchscreen infotainment systems – these can be an absolute godsend on long journeys if you need to keep your children entertained.

And don’t forget to pick a car with rear doors that open can wide so you can get the children in and out easily no matter the weather. Crossovers and SUVs can be quite handy for buckling in toddlers and younger children thanks to their higher position.

7. Cabin storage

Having a boot big enough to fit all the gear your family needs is key. But having plenty of cabin storage is also a really important feature in a family car. Cup holders, pockets and storage options will come in very handy if you need to keep toys tidy – and handy.

8. How economical it is to drive

To be fair, fuel economy and other running costs such as tax, insurance and the price of fuel are something important to check when you buy any type of car. But even more so if you’re purchasing your family’s new ride. Make sure all these fit your budget

9. Book a test drive

Would you buy a car without test-driving it? Possibly not, right? Once you’ve got a shortlist of the top candidates to be your next family car it’s time to book a test drive. Take the family with you, the car seats (if your children need them), the pram and drive the car. Only then you’ll find out if it does, indeed, tick all the boxes for the whole gang.

Top 20 Best Family Cars to Buy

Finding the ideal family car can be tricky – mostly because there are so many great ones that could fit your bill. Whether you want an affordable hatchback, prefer an SUV, need a roomy MPV or would rather drive an estate, we’ve shortlisted some of our favourite family cars to buy. Read on and have your pick.

  1. Skoda Octavia
  2. SEAT Leon
  3. Volvo XC90
  4. Audi A3 Sportback
  5. Vauxhall Astra
  6. Ford Focus
  7. Peugeot 3008
  8. Volkswagen Touran
  9. Hyundai i30
  10. Renault Megane
  11. Skoda Superb
  12. Kia Ceed
  13. Hyundai Ioniq
  14. Peugeot 508
  15. BMW 1 Series
  16. Vauxhall Insignia
  17. Skoda Scala
  18. Volkswagen Golf
  19. Toyota Corolla
  20. Kia e-niro

No matter what you’re looking for from your next family car, we’re here to help. has a fantastic choice of vehicles that tick all the boxes for you and your family to go on all the adventures you want. Check out our Car Buying Guide for more information