It wasn’t so long ago that the best family car you could expect to drive was a boring old saloon with four doors and a boot. These days the options are much wider with crossovers and SUVs, MPVs and mini-MPVs, estates and hatchbacks all vying for a slice of the action. Of course, if you really want to, you can even still drive a family saloon car.
Good family cars must meet the needs of everyone, handling commuting, the school run, shopping trips, family holidays and Mum or Dad’s Taxi service without a grumble. That means even the best small family cars need to be big on interior space and practicality, while the best large family cars will these days not get the thumbs up from teenagers if they can’t stream music from their phones. On top of that, good family cars need to be comfortable, fun to drive and cheap to run.
Take the Renault Kadjar for example: with its crossover body style it's very practical for family life, but without the higher running costs of something like a Land Rover Discovery Sport. Of course, larger models like that are getting cheaper to run than ever - so the Discovery Sport could be a great choice for families on a higher budget too.
For those ever-important family holidays or trips to the beach during summer, a large MPV could be the best choice - these cars offer lots of interior space for the kids and their huge amount of luggage. The Citroen C4 Picasso is a top-class MPV, as it's massively practical without being dull.
Family cars don't have to be boring for the driver, either - the excellent Mazda 6 is a favourite of ours. It's good fun to drive, but still has plenty of plenty of room inside. It looks great, too.
Make sure you look carefully at the trim levels, as many family cars don't come with much equipment as standard - you'll need to make sure the car you buy has everything you need. You might decide you don't need a high-spec trim, but useful features like Bluetooth connectivity and folding rear seats might be worth the extra money for a mid-spec car.
If you're looking for suitable a company car, then go for a model with lots of standard equipment - you'll pay more company car tax if you have to add a lot of optional extras.
Do also be aware, as with all cars, that the manufacturer-quoted economy figures are often for guidance only. For example, if one car gets a claimed 50mpg and the other gets 60mpg, you can expect the second car to be more economical, even if neither car matches those figures in the real world.
It's worth taking care when choosing an engine too. For quite a few years diesel has been the default choice thanks to superior economy and CO2 emissions, but advances from turbocharged petrols mean that for lower-mileage drivers, these cars could work out just as cheap or cheaper to run.
Do you agree with our selection? Let us know your best family car in the comments section below...