Car-buyers have never had so much choice. To prove as much we’ve taken a £10,000 budget and picked 10 examples from CarGurus that despite looking like a diverse bunch would all make great family cars. Question is, which one takes your fancy?
The Hatchback: Kia Cee’d
If there’s such a thing as a traditional style of family car, this is it. A five-door hatchback with a decent boot and low running costs that is comfortable to drive and easy to park. What makes the Kia Cee’d stand out above rivals is the staggering value for money of nearly new examples.
For our budget you’ll be able to find a one-year-old car with around 10,000 miles on the clock. True, it might be in basic 1 specification, but that still includes air-conditioning and Bluetooth phone connectivity. What’s more, if you can find a Cee’d that’s part of Kia’s Approved Used programme it will come with the reassurance of a seven-year manufacturer-backed warranty.
The Estate: Peugeot 308 SW
Space is the one thing a family car can never have enough of. With that in mind there are few more compelling options than the Peugeot 308 SW, which somehow manages to cram a boot that is larger than you’ll find a Ford Mondeo Estate into a car the same size as a Ford Focus.
Throw in a smart interior, very frugal engines and the quirky i-Cockpit dashboard layout (complete with its small steering wheel) and you’ve got a fine example of why estates can makes such good family cars.
The Hybrid: Toyota Prius
The reputation of the Toyota Prius might be built on the green credentials of its petrol-electric hybrid system, but it can also make a very effective family car. For a start it’s extremely cheap to run thanks to average fuel economy in real world driving of about 55-60mpg. But it’s also spacious for passengers (why do you think it’s such a popular choice with Uber drivers?), and very rarely goes wrong.
True, the boot isn’t as big as you’ll find in an estate car or family hatchback, but if you’re beyond the baby buggy stage and want something that’s dependable and very easy to drive the Prius can make a lot of sense.
The SUV: Range Rover Sport
Regardless of what your budget is, when buying a used car it is important to check you can afford to pay the running costs. Opting for a £10,000 Range Rover Sport as your family car is a good example of this, because despite looking reasonably affordable to buy you’ll still need to factor in the higher insurance costs, an annual tax bill that could be in excess of £500 (depending on model), and fuel economy that will rarely exceed 25mpg.
In return however you’ll be getting a luxurious SUV with towering performance and the ability to go off-road if needed.
The Crossover: Nissan Qashqai
The Nissan Qashqai is the definitive crossover, that being a car combining the styling and elevated driving position of an SUV with the running costs and driving dynamics of a hatchback.
Our £10,000 budget will give you a choice of petrol or diesel versions of the excellent second-generation Qashqai, many of which have less than 30,000 miles on the clock.
The MPV: Citroen C4 Picasso
If crossovers demonstrate how many people’s idea of a family car has changed in recent years, the C4 Picasso is proof that the MPV (or multi-purpose vehicle) is still king when it comes to practicality.
For example, rather than a bench for rear passengers it features three individual seats which all slide and fold individually (and include their own Isofix mounting points for up to three child seats) to maximise versatility, plus an enormous boot. Throw in a very comfortable ride and economical engines and you’ve got a great family car.
The People Carrier: Seat Alhambra
Due to its size, opting for a seven-seat Seat Alhambra within our budget will mean settling for a higher mileage example than with some of the other cars here, but with it you’ll get supreme versatility and more space than you’ll know what to do with.
For our budget you can pick up a 70,000-mile example of the 2.0-litre diesel model, which has plenty of power for the task in hand. It’ll need it too, because unlike some seven seaters the Alhambra really can carry seven adults without anybody feeling like they’ve got a raw deal. Just as impressive is that despite being as spacious as some vans the Alhambra still feels reasonably car-like to drive.
The Four-Door Coupe: Mercedes-Benz CLS
Until the arrival of the first-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS in 2005 the idea of using a coupe as your only family car was somewhat laughable. Then Mercedes turned the idea of what constitutes a coupe on its head by adding a pair of rear doors within a car that still placed form over function.
The result was the gorgeous shape of the CLS, and while the steeply raked roofline means limited headroom for any taller adults travelling in the rear, for kids it is absolutely fine. What’s more, the 495-litre boot wasn’t far off what you’d expect to find in some estate cars of the time.
The Luxury Car: BMW 7 Series
Spend £10,000 on a brand new car and you’ll get a city runabout. Take the same sum of money to a used car dealer and you can buy a true luxury barge such as the BMW 7 Series.
If you’re lucky you might even find something as special as a long-wheelbase 760Li that’s packed with options such as a rear monitor with DVD player to keep the kids quiet, electric sunblinds and even Isofix mounting points to clip child seats in. Running costs are sure to be high, but even so it’s tempting…
The Supermini: Skoda Fabia
If you’re going to use a supermini as a family car you’ll need one of the bigger offerings on the market. Fortunately, one of the biggest, the Skoda Fabia, is also one of the best. For a start, it really is spacious, with a boot that matches some cars from the class above, and also has easily enough room in the back seats for a couple of kids.
Being a Skoda it’s excellent value (you can pick up a one-year-old example within our £10,000 budget), has a comfortable ride, and shares its engines with other brands within the VW Group. This includes the excellent 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol unit, which combines effortless performance with wallet-friendly fuel economy of about 50mpg in everyday use.
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