Best and worst family cars 2019

What makes a good family car and which models should you be considering? We count down the best new family cars on sale – and reveal the ones to avoid...

Best and worst family cars 2019

The best family cars

Many people who once would have chosen a traditional 'family car' are now buying SUVs and MPVs instead.

However, that doesn’t mean the family car market is dead; it still accounts for a huge number of sales and is very competitive, so there are some great buys out there – and some great deals to be had, especially on models like the Ford Focus, which is being replaced this week.

The Ford Focus may not be our top-scoring family car, but it sells in massive numbers; in fact, nearly 290,000 were sold in the UK in 2017.

But what makes a good family car? Well, it has to be practical, cheap to run, good to drive, well equipped and good value for money; in other words, it needs to be good at everything. Here we count down the top 10 and reveal the models that are best to steer clear of.

The best family cars

BMW i3

10. BMW i3

The BMW i3 is an electric family car that uses super-light carbonfibre and aluminium to offset the weight of the battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor, while a smart interior and great handling add further to its appeal.

Read our full BMW i3 review

Find a great BMW i3 deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

BMW i3 interior

10. BMW i3

In addition to the fully electric model, BMW offers a range-extender version with a two-cylinder petrol engine that acts as a generator to prevent the car's batteries from running flat.

Read our full BMW i3 review

Find a great BMW i3 deal with New Car Buying**

The best family cars

BMW 1 Series

9. BMW 1 Series

A more conventional option from BMW is the 1 Series, which offers a strong combination of performance, fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

Pick of the range: 118i SE

Read our full BMW 1 Series review

Find a great BMW 1 Series deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

BMW 1 Series interior

9. BMW 1 Series

It’s still a little unusual in that it sends its power to the rear wheels rather than the fronts, but this makes it entertaining to drive, and ride comfort is also good.

Pick of the range: 118i SE

Read our full BMW 1 Series review

Find a great BMW 1 Series deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Honda Civic

8. Honda Civic

The latest Honda Civic is good to drive and has plenty of space inside for your family and their luggage. Add to that an impressive array of standard safety equipment and it's easy to recommend as an all-rounder.

Pick of the range: 1.0 VTEC SR

Read our full Honda Civic review

Find a great Honda Civic deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Honda Civic interior

8. Honda Civic

We'd recommend teaming the frugal 1.0-litre petrol engine with mid-range SR trim for the best combination of economy and equipment.

Pick of the range: 1.0 VTEC SR

Read our full Honda Civic review

Find a great Honda Civic deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Toyota Prius

7. Toyota Prius

As hard as it is to believe, the Toyota Prius is now in its fourth generation, and the current model marks a significant step forward for the world's best-selling hybrid car.

Pick of the range: 1.8 VVTi Business Edition

Read our full Toyota Prius review

Find a great Toyota Prius deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Toyota Prius interior

7. Toyota Prius

The big surprise with the latest Prius is that it is not only is it the cleanest and most efficient version yet, it's also the best to drive.

Pick of the range: 1.8 VVTi Business Edition

Read our full Toyota Prius review

Find a great Toyota Prius deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Hyundai Ioniq

6. Hyundai Ioniq

Unlike its main rival, the Prius, Hyundai's Ioniq is available as a hybrid, a fully electric car and a plug-in hybrid.

Pick of the range: Hybrid Premium

Read our full Hyundai Ioniq review

Find a great Hyundai Ioniq deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Hyundai Ioniq interior

6. Hyundai Ioniq

Whichever version you choose, light steering makes it easy to drive in town, but the Ioniq is also entertaining on B-roads. Interior quality is good, and practicality decent, while running costs are very low.

Pick of the range: Hybrid Premium

Read our full Hyundai Ioniq review

Find a great Hyundai Ioniq deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Vauxhall Astra

5. Vauxhall Astra

The latest Vauxhall Astra is cheaper than the equivalent Volkswagen Golf and a better all-rounder than the Ford Focus, so it’s one of the best family hatchbacks around.

Pick of the range: 1.6 CDTi 110 Tech Line

Read our full Vauxhall Astra review

Find a great Vauxhall Astra deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Vauxhall Astra interior

5. Vauxhall Astra

The Astra is also good to drive, practical and well equipped, although some rivals are quieter and more comfortable.

Pick of the range: 1.6 CDTi 110 Tech Line

Read our full Vauxhall Astra review

Find a great Vauxhall Astra deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Seat Leon

4. Seat Leon

Like its sister car, the Volkswagen Golf, the Seat Leon handles well and has strong engines.

Pick of the range: 1.0 TSI 115 SE Ecomotive

Read our full Seat Leon review

Find a great Seat Leon deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Seat Leon hatchback

4. Seat Leon

It also offers a practical and user-friendly interior, and while some of the interior plastics feel a little cheap, this is easy to forgive when the car is so attractively priced.

Pick of the range: 1.0 TSI 115 SE Ecomotive

Read our full Seat Leon review

Find a great Seat Leon deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Audi A3 Sportback

3. Audi A3 Sportback

The Audi A3 has strong, efficient engines and strikes an excellent balance between comfort and control on SE suspension. What’s more, the interior is beautifully built, with plenty of space for four people, plus there's a usefully sized boot.

Pick of the range: 2.0 TDI 150 SE Technik

Read our full Audi A3 review

Find a great Audi A3 deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Audi A3 Sportback interior

3. Audi A3 Sportback

We recommend A3 Sportback model, which has five doors and boosts practicality. However, whichever A3 you go for, you'll be getting a stylish, premium family hatchback that's surprisingly affordable. It's no surprise that it's our 2018 Family Car of the Year.

Pick of the range: 2.0 TDI 150 SE Technik

Read our full Audi A3 review

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The best family cars

Volkswagen Golf

2. Volkswagen Golf

The Golf remains an excellent choice in this market, because it's quiet, comfortable and enjoyable to drive, while the interior is well built and practical. True, the Golf isn't cheap to buy, but strong resale values and a range of fuel-efficient turbocharged engines mean it should cost surprisingly little to run over three years.

Pick of the range: 1.0 TSI Match Bluemotion Edition

Read our full VW Golf review

Find a great VW Golf deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Volkswagen Golf interior

2. Volkswagen Golf

The Golf remains an excellent choice in this market, because it's quiet, comfortable and enjoyable to drive, while the interior is well built and practical. True, the Golf isn't cheap to buy, but strong resale values and a range of fuel-efficient turbocharged engines mean it should cost surprisingly little to run over three years.

Pick of the range: 1.0 TSI Match Bluemotion Edition

Read our full VW Golf review

Find a great VW Golf deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Skoda Octavia

1. Skoda Octavia

The Skoda Octavia is simply one of the best family cars available, offering a practical and spacious interior, low running costs and generous standard kit.

Pick of the range: 1.4 TSI 150 SE

Read our full Skoda Octavia review

Find a great Skoda Octavia deal with New Car Buying

The best family cars

Skoda Octavia interior

1. Skoda Octavia

We'd team the 1.4-litre petrol engine with SE trim, which gets you rear parking sensors, a front centre armrest and climate and cruise controls. It's big enough inside for your family and all their stuff, and it's also good to drive.

Pick of the range: 1.4 TSI 150 SE

Read our full Skoda Octavia review

Find a great Skoda Octavia deal with New Car Buying

The family cars to avoid

DS4

DS 4

The DS 4 may have been designed to take on prestige models such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, but it lacks their quality feel and its suspension is far too stiff and unforgiving.

Read our full DS 4 review

The family cars to avoid

Infiniti Q30

Infiniti Q30

The Infiniti Q30 is more appealing than the 4 thanks to its comfortable ride, practical boot and decent interior quality, but its engines and interior space disappoint.

Read our full Infiniti Q30 review