Best family cars 2022

Phil Hall

Written by

Phil Hall

Best family cars

The best family cars to buy in 2022 are practical, frugal and can keep up with everything your kids and other half can throw at it.

Regardless of whether you put space, style, performance, reliability or some other factor as the top priority - the family cars here all offer something that makes them one of the best in their class, whether that be high levels of tech, keen performance or a long warranty. 

Many of the best family cars we've picked out also have an average fuel economy that will exceed 50mpg, making them cheap to run, too. Most of these family cars are available with either a manual or automatic gearbox, while you’ll also get a large boot and a spacious interior.

Our guide to the best family cars shines a spotlight on a variety of different types of car, but you might also want to take a look at our dedicated guides to the best family SUVs, best family electric cars and best 7-seater cars. Otherwise, read on to discover the top 10 family cars in the UK.

Ford Puma

Year launched: 2020

Ford Puma Review 2022: Exterior Front

The Ford Puma is one of the best family cars you can buy. It’s not surprising considering Ford has essentially made the Ford Fiesta - the UK’s most popular car - bigger and plusher. Boom, the Ford Puma was born. Size-wise, it rivals the Nissan Juke and Volkswagen T-Roc - but it beats the Juke on practicality and quality, plus costs less than the T-Roc. It’s got good looks, the engaging driving experience you’d get from the Fiesta and some useful family features - like ISOFIX points fitted to the outer rear seats, helping to secure child seats.

Compared to other SUVs on this list, like the Honda CR-V, the Puma is smaller - which means less space inside. But it has a huge boot, partly thanks to a clever, wipe-clean, storage area dubbed the ‘megabox’ - which is hidden underneath the boot floor. For small families, the Puma is one of the best options going - but it’ll still be pricey (even used) as it only launched in 2020.

You can’t really buy a basic Ford Puma, which also explains why it looks relatively expensive on the used market. But models are well-equipped - meaning you get things like cruise control, an eight-inch navigation system, rear parking sensors and massage seats on the entry-level car.

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Year launched: 2019

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Review 2022 Front Side View

The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports isn’t just good for a hybrid, it’s also one of the best family cars around. It might not stand out but if you want a lot of space and low fuel bills - the Corolla could be an ideal choice. It’s quiet and smooth around town, plus it's very economical - hitting 63.7mpg in real-world driving if you opt for the 1.8 hybrid. 

Tall passengers will be fine for headroom in the front and back, while there’s also plenty of space for three children to sit side by side. The boot space isn’t quite as good as you’ll find in a Skoda Octavia Estate, but the Touring Sports can muster 598 litres of space. When it comes to the interior, it’s well put together and feels decent quality. However, it looks a tad cheap in places, and the touchscreen isn’t fantastic.

Thankfully, every Corolla is well equipped, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, so you can bypass Toyota's own not-so-great software. Toyota hybrids hold their value well and there’s always strong demand and being a Toyota, long term reliability is a given. Family cars don't get more well built than this.

Skoda Karoq

Year launched: 2018

Skoda Karoq Review 2022: front

The Skoda Karoq small SUV is a comfortable family car that's good to drive with an excellent range of engines, a nicely finished cabin and a high level of standard equipment. Like all Skodas, it’s conservatively styled but tremendously practical and nearly impossible to fault. Inside, the Skoda Karoq has space for five adults to sit in comfort with generous rear legroom.

If you go for the SE-L trim, you’ll get three individual ‘Varioflex’ rear seats that can be slid back and forth as well as recline, so you can pick between comfort or space. You can also remove the rear seats entirely. Even with the rear seats in place and slid all the way to the rear there is a decent amount of space - with 521 litres beneath the load cover which is plenty for family life.

Even if you opt for the base SE model you'll get alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and auto emergency brakes as standard - but SE-L is really the model to go for. It features keyless entry, heated front seats, Alcantara upholstery and a reversing camera.

BMW 3 Series

Year launched: 2019

BMW 3 Series Driving front

The BMW 3 Series is a superb upmarket family car - with a refined ride, plush cabin and low running costs. That’s why it remains one of the most popular family cars on the road despite impressive rivals from Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Sure, it won’t suit everyone - including families with older kids or who need more practicality than a saloon can offer. But it makes up for that in style, performance and a range of impressive engines including the popular 320d - which will see about 52mpg in real-world driving.

With the rear seats left up, boot space is 480 litres, while the rear seats can be dropped 40/20/40 to increase luggage capacity. The BMW 3 Series has similar rear headroom to the Audi A4 but features more all-around space than both it and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Yet, if rear space is a priority - the Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb pip all three with cavernous amounts of room.

There's a good amount of kit as standard, too, with the entry-level model featuring an 8.8-inch central touchscreen infotainment system, increasing to a 10.3-inch system on the M Sport model. Overall, the interior feels plush and high-quality. Although, the Audi A4 rival feels more premium in some areas, with tech that’s slightly easier to get to grips with.

Volkswagen Golf

Year launched: 2013

Volkswagen Golf Front View

The Volkswagen Golf is a perennial favourite for those looking for the best family car. It’s easy to see why - the Golf is a comfortable, class and practical car. It’s also affordable, with its comprehensive range of petrol and diesel engines cutting fuel costs to the bone. 

This Golf was replaced in 2020 with an all-new model. This is good news for used car buyers, with lots of tempting dealers on 2018 and 2019 models. A budget of £15,000 will get you 1.0-litre petrol or 1.6-litre diesel Golf, with lots of equipment fitted as standard. 

The interior is one area where the Golf shines. Everything has a premium feel, with lots of high-quality clothes and soft-touch plastics. The clever packing of the car also means everyone travelling in the Golf will have a reasonable amount of head and legroom, no matter their size. 

Volvo XC40

Year launched: 2018

Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric Review 2022 Front Side View

If you want a Volvo XC40, it’ll come at a higher price than other family cars in this list, but it’s also one of the best family cars you can buy - especially if you're looking for something ultra-safe, premium and luxurious. The XC40 feels just classy as a BMW X2, but it stands out more. It’s also decent value for money if you stay away from the options list.

Inside, it’s less claustrophobic feel than some of its rivals, with a very contemporary and sophisticated design that’s dominated by the central touchscreen. It gets the most comprehensive standard safety kit in the class - you can even add Volvo’s semi-autonomous ‘Intellisafe Pro’ pack, which means the car will steer, brake and accelerate for you. The XC40 is a great family car – even if the bulky floor means it won’t be quite so welcoming for the middle-seat passenger.

There’s an ample 460-litre capacity with the seats up, space extends to 1336 litres with the seats down. You can get bigger SUVs, but you’ll struggle to find anything more practical than the Volvo. Refinement is generally very good, too. The XC40 cruises quietly, with wind noise kept well at bay and road noise dampened down. 

If you fancy going electric but love the sound of the XC40, you're in luck. Check out the electric Volvo XC40 Recharge with a 259 mile range. 

Honda CR-V

Year launched: 2018

Honda CR-V Review 2022 frontright exterior

With a comfortable cabin, economical engines, up to seven seats and a reasonable price point - you’d be hard-pressed to find a better family car than the Honda CR-V. That is unless you do higher mileage because Honda doesn't offer a diesel engine in the 2018-onwards CR-V, meaning your choices are limited to a petrol line-up and hybrid offering.

The infotainment isn’t as good as you’d find in a Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, but that shouldn’t be enough to put you off the CR-V entirely. Space in the five-seater version is better than the seven-seat CR-V, mostly because the two seats in the third row are small and cramped - although that’s the case for many seven-seaters. They also hinder boot space, which is 497 litres with the seats up in the standard five-seat model.

We’d steer clear of the entry-level S model (it’s very basic), but the rest of the range is fairly well equipped. The SE comes with desirable features like 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear-view camera and the seven-inch navigation system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). Safety equipment includes lane assist, autonomous emergency braking and Isofix child seat mounting points - all standard across the range, contributing to a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Kia Sportage

Year launched: 2016

Kia Sportage Review (2016-2021): right exterior

The Kia Sportage is a likeable SUV with a hard-wearing interior and the benefit of a seven-year warranty - which is transferable. It’s earnt itself a reputation for being a very sensible, reliable family car, which explains why it's so popular - especially for those who buy the diesel for towing. In newer models, the diesel is available as both a manual and seven-speed DCT auto, with front or all-wheel drive.

On the road, it’s a good all-rounder with a cushioned ride quality and decent steering, although it’s not the most dynamic offering when compared to the Ford Kuga - for example.  On the plus side, Kia includes a decent level of standard equipment even on base models.

The rear seats are very spacious and the boot is wide, with a flat load lip making it easy to slide things in and out. There’s a bit of intrusion from the wheel arches, but Kia has shaped them well enough so the space is still square and practical. The seats fold flat, which extends the space from 491 litres to 1480 litres - which makes it easy enough to carry around everything a family needs in comfort.

SEAT Ateca

Year launched: 2016

SEAT Ateca Review 2022: Front Side View

The SEAT Ateca shares its mechanical bits with the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Karoq, although it’s slightly sportier than both of them. It rivals the Kia Sportage in size, though it drives better than many rivals because it’s based on the SEAT Leon hatchback.

As you'd expect of a good family car, there’s loads of room in the front and even adults in the rear ought to be very comfortable thanks to a generous amount of head- and legroom. The boot is also one of the most accommodating in its class, capable of lugging up to 510 litres of luggage. All models come with an eight-inch media system (including navigation on most trim levels), which is easy to use. 

There’s a good range of petrol and diesel engines on offer, as well as two- or four-wheel drive. We’d only opt for the latter if you really need it - sure, it’s useful when towing trailers out of muddy fields, but it provides quite a significant drop in fuel economy. Petrol models return up to early-40s mpg, while the most efficient diesels should be good for mid-50s in the real world. It won’t cost a lost to tax and insure, while depreciation means the Ateca represents particularly good value for money as a used family car.

Mazda CX-5

Year launched: 2017

Mazda CX-5 on road driving

The interior in the Mazda CX-5 is superb, with plenty of space and generous equipment levels on even the most affordable models. Despite a few gripes, it really is an excellent family car - albeit a dark horse. It has an interior which is far better than mainstream alternatives like the Ford Kuga and Skoda Kodiaq, with plush materials, lots of neat touches and generous amounts of kit.

There’s plenty of space for rear-seat passengers, but the boot’s not quite as big as the Skoda Kodiaq’s. Thankfully, unlike a lot of SUVs of this size, the CX-5 doesn’t feel like driving a big, lumbering box. It feels just as agile as smaller SUV crossovers like the SEAT Ateca, with superb steering.

The 2.0-litre petrol is smart if you don’t do a lot of long journeys or cover a lot of miles per year - but it does feel a little underpowered. For that reason, we’d recommend the 150PS Skyactiv-D diesel. The 2.2-litre turbodiesel feels surprisingly quick off the line thanks to all that torque available from low down in the rev range. Overall, rivals like the Ford Kuga might be cheaper on the used market, but you get what you pay more. And the Mazda CX-5 is up there with more premium alternatives.

If your kids are still small, or you’re just preparing to start a family - you can get away with a smaller car like a Ford Puma or Skoda Karoq - both of which are excellent. These also offer a little more room than hatchbacks like the Ford Focus - meaning you won’t have to change the car as soon as your kids start growing.

Larger family cars like the Honda CR-V and Kia Sportage are ideal for those that need more space. The Kia Sportage, like all Kia models, also gets a seven-year warranty, meaning it offers excellent peace of mind.

The Toyota Corolla sees an impressive 61.5mpg in real-world driving, while the BMW 3 Series 320d (2.0-litre diesel) gets about 52mpg.

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Skoda Karoq

1.5 TSI SE L 5dr DSG

  • 2020
  • 7,019 miles

Manufacturer Approved

  • Marshall Skoda Oxford
  • Oxfordshire, OX51AA
PCP: £445.10/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £445.10, Customer Deposit: £4,050.00, Total Deposit: £4,050.00, Optional Final Payment: £11,890.00, Total Charge For Credit: £4,518.50, Total Amount Payable: £31,518.50, Representative APR: 8.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 8.88%, Excess Mileage Charge: 7.2ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000

Skoda Karoq

1.0 TSI 110 SE 5dr

  • 2021
  • 6,862 miles
  • Simpsons Skoda (Great Yarmouth)
  • Norfolk, NR310LN
PCP: £360.92/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £360.92, Customer Deposit: £3,397.00, Total Deposit: £3,397.50, Optional Final Payment: £9,527.50, Total Charge For Credit: £2,907.20, Total Amount Payable: £25,557.20, Representative APR: 6.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 6.86%, Excess Mileage Charge: 3.6ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000

Skoda Karoq

1.0 TSI 110 SE Technology 5dr

  • 2021
  • 7,984 miles

Manufacturer Approved

  • Lookers Skoda Guildford
  • Surrey, GU31NE
PCP: £562.91/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £562.91, Customer Deposit: £4,499.00, Total Deposit: £4,499.85, Optional Final Payment: £9,910.00, Total Charge For Credit: £4,112.70, Total Amount Payable: £34,111.70, Representative APR: 7.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 7.89%, Excess Mileage Charge: 3.6ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000