So, you are on the lookout for a practical car for the family that doesn’t break the bank? Whatever your budget, we have you covered with our list of the best used family cars for every budget.
We’ve analysed all the used family cars available at each price point using the thousands of cars for sale from our partners at Cazoo, heycar, Motors.co.uk, CarShop and Carsnip. Then, we have consulted our industry-leading Expert Rating index to see which models have the highest review scores from across the UK motoring media.
Every car listed below has used models available to purchase now, each model being reasonably new; no older than three years old.
With comprehensive review data backing our recommendations, you can be confident that this is the definitive guide to the best used family cars for every budget that are on sale in the UK right now.
Best used family car under £10,000: Volkswagen Golf
If you have a maximum of £10,000 to spend, you have a wide array of reliable used hatchbacks to choose from, the best option being the dependable Volkswagen Golf Mk7.
Available as both a hatchback and an estate car, the Golf Mk7 was replaced by the new generation of Mk8 Golf models in 2020. However, the older model was regarded more highly – the Volkswagen Golf Mk7 had an Expert Rating of 81% at the end of its model life, which is markedly higher than the 75% rating that the new model currently holds.
The Golf has received plenty of praise for its value for money, refinement and practicality, all while offering a performance-packed engine that is great fun to drive.
A key rival to the Volkswagen Golf Mk7 on the used market is the Skoda Octavia, which has recently won ‘Used Estate Car of the Year’ at the What Car? Used Car Awards. Much like the Golf, the older now-decommissioned model of the Octavia has a better Expert Rating than the current model, recognised for its fantastic value for money and practicality when faced with day-to-day family life.
Find a great deal on a Volkswagen Golf with The Car Expert’s partners:
Best used family car under £20,000: Skoda Superb
A fantastic all-rounder, the Skoda Superb really is the perfect low-cost family car, with an abundance of recent used models available to purchase from our partners from under £20,000. Available as either a liftback or estate, the fact that this car is called ‘Superb’ is no exaggeration. It has won more than 50 UK awards since its launch in 2015.
In addition, the 2021 What Car? reliability survey marked the Superb was the top-ranked executive car – improving from second place in its class the previous year.
Praised for its practicality, design and value for money, the Skoda Superb has an Expert Rating of 82%, as of September 2021, which is based on 47 reviews from the media.
If you prefer a hatchback, the Ford Focus is always a great choice for the family in this price range, with an abundance of used models available for purchase with our partners below. The Focus is one of the most common cars on British roads, notable for its impressive driving dynamics and advanced safety systems.
Find a great deal on a Skoda Superb with The Car Expert’s partners:
Best used family car under £30,000: BMW 5 Series
Known for its impressive build quality, great performance and lavish looks inside and out, the BMW 5 Series is the current benchmark for cars in the premium saloon class, and the BMW 5 Series Touring (shown above) is particularly talented at ferrying around the family with poise.
As of September 2021, the BMW 5 Series has an Expert Rating of 87% based on 52 reviews from the British media, and has won over 25 different industry awards since 2017. Our partners have a wide selection of used Series 5 models available below, but it must be said that the large majority of the models priced under £30,000 are diesel variants.
If an SUV is more your style, it is worth searching for a Kia e-Niro with our partners below. This all-electric alternative is efficient for your pocket and the planet, while being commended by reviewers for its family-friendly comfort and practicality.
Find a great deal on a BMW 5 Series with The Car Expert’s partners:
Best used family car under £40,000: Volvo XC90
As we approach the premium end of the used car market, there are not many options that offer comfort, practicality and efficiency like the Volvo XC90.
For Volvo, safety for the driver and their family is the focal selling point for the XC90, the manufacturer claiming that “not a single Volvo XC90 occupant has died in a car-to-car accident in the UK” since the original model was launched in 2002.”
Boasting seven seats and a premium interior trim, the XC90 has an Expert Rating of 79% from 38 reviews as of September 2021, receiving plaudits for its attractive styling, roomy and comfortable interior and excellent safety technology.
Another contender on the used market in this price range is the Audi A8, which is a lavish luxury saloon, commended for its overall comfort and on-board technology. The good news if you’re looking for a second-hand example is that it tends to suffer from savage depreciation compared to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, so it’s something of a bargain.
Find a great deal on a Volvo XC90 with The Car Expert’s partners:
Best used family car under £50,000: Land Rover Discovery
The Land Rover Discovery matches the sensibilities and style of the Volvo XC90, and adds off-road ability and powerful performance to the equation.
The latest generation of the Discovery’s 35-year history is by far the most expensive and luxurious. This premium SUV has also received praise for its top of the line infotainment and luxury comfort, capable of keeping all of the family occupied and relaxed for even the longest of journeys.
As of September 2021, the Land Rover Discovery has an Expert Rating of 79% based on a total of 29 reviews, which offer some conflicting conclusions.
Some reviewers take issue with ongoing reliability problems, while others were deterred by its ever-increasing price tag. Much like the 5 Series, you will be hard-pressed to find a used petrol variant in this price range, with diesels being far more common.
Should off-roading be of no interest to you, the Tesla Model S is another fantastic choice on the used market. The Model S is a very capable family saloon car and a pioneering vehicle for the image of electric cars, almost single-handedly responsible for changing the perception of electric vehicles having poor performance and range.
Find a great deal on a Land Rover Discovery with The Car Expert’s partners:
Best used family car over £50,000: Land Rover Defender
The new Land Rover Defender has taken even more of a leap upmarket than the Discovery. No longer a utilitarian farmer’s tool, the Defender is now a luxury family SUV that shares a moniker with several British off-roading classics, and can trace its lineage back to the first Land Rover sold in 1948.
Launched in 2020, it has retained the robust temperament and off-road aspirations as the Land Rovers of yesteryear, although there has been a marked change in its target audience as it challenges other luxury alternatives with its grand interior trim, expensive tech and everyday practicality.
Despite rather consistent doubts about the fuel economy of the Defender, this top-of-the-line SUV has an Expert Rating of 85%, based on 34 reviews from UK media sources. The only catch is you’re unlikely to find any real used car bargains, as high demand keeps second-hand prices higher than you’d normally expect.
If you do have over £50,000 to spend on a used car for the family, it is also worth checking out another mainstay of the Land Rover range, the Range Rover, which has received particular praise for its ability to combine off-road ability, practicality and opulence into a single package.
Find a great deal on a Land Rover Defender with The Car Expert’s partners:
For the definitive rankings of the best used family cars for every budget, we’ve used The Car Expert’s industry-leading Expert Rating index. The index analyses new car reviews from 25 of the top UK motoring websites, using an advanced algorithm that we have developed specifically to compare review scores.
It constantly recalculates and updates the Expert Rating score for every single car in real time to make sure you’re getting the most accurate and reliable ratings for every new car.