Years ago family cars were mainly saloons and hatchbacks, but these days there are so many different styles of family car that it can be hard to choose which one is best for you.
The Ford Mondeo will be what many of us think of in relation to the phrase 'family car' - and it's still a great choice, offering plenty of space and reasonable running costs. However there's so much more to choose from these days, with MPVs and SUVs costing less and less to run every year.
The Nissan Qashqai is a great example of this: it's big enough for a family thanks to its SUV body, but it's nowhere near as thirsty as a traditional 4x4 like a Land Rover Discovery thanks to is smaller size and efficient engines.
MPVs like the SEAT Alhambra are also a lot more affordable to run, meaning larger families or those needing to transport up to 7 people at once are abel to make a running costs saving as well - without sacrificing space inside the car.
It doesn't have to be a dreary experience for the driver, either - the Mazda 6, for example, is good fun to drive but still offers plenty of practicality and low running costs.
Many family cars are available in a wide range of specifications, some with very little equipment, so make sure you look carefully at the trim levels and choose the one that suits you best. 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.
Of course, company car tax will cost extra if you add optional extras, so if that applies to you then go for a model with plenty of standard kit.
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.
You can read all about each car in our best family cars list by clicking on the links to the left.