The days when a family car was always a regular saloon are over. These days, there's an endless procession of SUV's, crossovers, MPV's, mini MPV's, estates and hatchbacks all vying for the task of carting around mum, dad and the kids. These cars have to be all things to all people but in particular they must be practical, cheap to run and good to drive.
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 - and the Discovery Sport could be a great choice for some families.
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.
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 advancements with turbocharged petrols mean that for lower-mileage drivers, these cars could work out just as cheap or cheaper to run than the equivalent diesel.
You can read all about each car in our best family cars list by clicking on the links above or to the left.