From spacious hatchbacks to high-riding SUVs to seven-seat estate cars, there’s a wide array of options for ferrying around the family on the market right now. If you’re in the market to swap your current car for a newer model, there’s something for every budget.
We’ve analysed all the family cars available at key price points in the car market and consulted our industry-leading Expert Rating Index to see which models have the highest review scores from across the UK motoring media.
All the suggested models below can be purchased for the price stated as either new or nearly new (18 months old or younger). With the price tags of new showroom family cars continually rising, the nearly-new used market can potentially save you thousands of pounds.
With comprehensive review data backing our recommendations – based on more than 15,000 new car reviews from 35 of the UK’s top motoring websites – you can be confident that this is the definitive guide to the best new family cars for every budget that are on sale right now.
All of the pricing estimates given in the article below are accurate as of October 2023. To select our near-new family car suggestions, we have scoured the website of our trusted partner motors.co.uk – one of the largest online motoring marketplaces for UK buyers and sellers.
Best family car under £20,000: Ford Focus estate
If you don’t want to spend more than £20k on your next family runaround, it’s hard to top the popular Ford Focus. The mid-sized hatchback is an accomplished all-rounder that offers a polished and comfortable driving experience and a spacious cabin, while the estate version offers all of the above plus even more practicality.
It’s a good value-for-money package, too. Besides its decent fuel economy, the Focus estate is currently available near-new on the used market for around £17k to £20k. That said, other estates in this mid-size class offer more boot space, and the Ford’s interior trim is rather cheap in places.
This fourth-generation Focus range was given a mid-life facelift in early 2022, consisting of some exterior tweaks and new interior hardware, which makes near-new models more appealing. It currently holds a very creditable Expert Rating of 75%.
Looking for a family car with a higher driving position? The popular Ford Puma crossover can also be picked up near-new for under £20k, but it’s smaller than the Focus. Another option in this bracket is the Skoda Octavia, which has also been widely praised for its spacious cabin, practicality and value for money. However, the Octavia’s near-new pricing tends to be a tad steeper than the Focus.
Best family car under £25,000: Skoda Superb
The new family car market starts to get very competitive passing the £20k mark, but if your budget maxes out at around £25k, opting for a Skoda Superb is your best bet.
Available as either a liftback or estate, the name ‘Superb’ is no exaggeration. It has won more than 50 UK awards since its launch in 2015. A near-new liftback is currently priced at around £22k to £25k on the used market, while estate models are slightly more expensive.
Praised for its practicality, design and value for money, the Skoda Superb has an outstanding Expert Rating of 82%. Its infotainment system is a bit harder to use on the move, however, while other large cars offer more driver appeal.
The fact that this model has been on the road since 2015 – and is about to be replaced by an all-new version – shouldn’t put you off if you’re looking for the best family car in this price bracket.
If you would prefer to opt for an SUV, the Hyundai Tucson has been one of the UK’s best-selling new cars this year, and for good reason. Available as a nearly-new model for around the same price, the Tucson is another great all-rounder that is roomy and generously equipped, but like the Superb, it’s not very exciting to drive.
Best family car under £30,000: Skoda Enyaq
Yes, it’s another Skoda… but this time with electric power. The Skoda Enyaq is a class-leading mid-sized SUV that has gained overwhelmingly positive reviews and almost universal praise from the UK motoring media. It has also picked up industry awards every year since its 2021 arrival.
Opting for a brand-new version can get expensive, but there are plenty of nearly-new Enyaq models priced between £27k and £30k on the used market.
Praised for its excellent battery range, interior space and affordable pricing, the Skoda Enyaq holds an Expert Rating of 82%. The SUV is well-equipped as standard too, meaning cheaper entry-level trims still make a great family car choice.
Of course, there are some excellent petrol-powered options in this price range too. Used prices for Volvo’s widely recommended SUV range start at around £26k for a near-new XC40 – a compact family car that offers a smooth driving experience and enough room to comfortably accommodate two adults and three children. That said, the larger Enyaq is the roomier choice.
Best family car under £40,000: Kia EV6
Sitting slightly higher than a regular petrol-engined car but lower than an SUV, the all-electric Kia EV6 is another serial award-winner and The Car Expert‘s Car of the Year for 2022. Add to the mix that you can currently purchase this car near-new for £33k to £35k, and the EV6 becomes one of the best family-oriented motoring packages on the market.
Currently holding an exceptional Expert Rating of 88%, the EV6 has been widely commended for its excellent battery range, upmarket interior fit and finish, spacious cabin and sporty driving experience. However, some reviewers comment that its suspension is rather firm, which could make long-distance drives a bit taxing.
The EV6’s sister model – the electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 – is just as impressive, with a practical interior and user-friendly infotainment being the highlights of its impressive family car credentials. It’s certainly worth checking out if you are interested in the EV6, particularly if you take a liking to its retro-futuristic ‘Ioniq’ exterior looks. That said, the Hyundai runs into the same ride quality issues, and some motoring outlets prefer the Kia’s driving dynamics.
Best family car under £50,000: BMW 5 Series Touring
Known for its impressive build quality, great performance and lavish looks inside and out, the BMW 5 Series has been the benchmark for cars in the premium saloon class since its arrival in 2017. The 5 Series Touring (BMW-speak for estate) is particularly talented at ferrying around the family with poise.
The Touring adds a fair chunk of extra boot space over the standard saloon, while retaining the same driving experience and luxurious interior.
A winner of more than 25 different industry awards, this seventh-generation 5 Series holds an Expert Rating of 87%. With the launch of the all-new eighth-generation 5 Series range this year, this version of the Touring is no longer available to buy new. But it is available near-new on the used market, with prices between £41k and £50k.
The electric Jaguar I-Pace offers similar levels of interior opulence for around the same used price. The spacious SUV is one of the most desirable large family cars on the market at the moment, but reviewers add that its infotainment system isn’t as advanced as the software in some of its newer rivals.
Best family car over £50,000: Land Rover Defender
If your family car budget can comfortably stretch beyond the £50k mark, then a Land Rover should certainly be on your shortlist. Our choice is the Land Rover Defender, which was The Car Expert‘s ‘Large SUV Class Champion’ back in 2021, and is available in three different wheelbase configurations to meet your families’ requirements.
The Defender is no longer a utilitarian farmer’s tool like its illustrious forebear, but the upmarket SUV retains the superb off-roading ability of Land Rovers of yesteryear while doubling as a luxury family SUV with a 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 79%, based on 47 reviews from UK media sources.
There are currently several near-new versions of the smallest Defender ’90’ model available on the used market for £54k to £63k, but if you are looking for a larger model, things get quite expensive. There are only a few of the largest ‘130’ models on offer near-new, with prices between £73k and £85k.
For the definitive rankings of the best new family cars for every budget, we’ve used The Car Expert’s industry-leading Expert Rating index. The index analyses new car reviews from 35 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.