Best used family cars 2024
Our guide to the best used family cars on sale in the UK today
If you’re in need of a new vehicle to take on family duties, opting for a used family car could help save you money, while still keeping pace with the latest in-car technology and safety equipment. With so many used family cars on the market, selecting the best model to take on this task isn’t always easy.
Our best used family car guide focuses on maximising value for money and space while excluding any small SUVs or crossovers. Larger saloons, hatchbacks and MPVs which used to be the bread and butter of everyday family motoring may have fallen slightly out of fashion, but can offer excellent value for money.
With the family car arena being highly competitive, manufacturers have focused on upgrading the quality and technology available, with even some entry-level cars getting equipment like sat-nav, parking sensors or Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. This is great news if you’re shopping for a family car on a budget, meaning you could get more for your money.
Best used family cars 2024
- Vauxhall Insignia
- Skoda Superb
- Peugeot 508
- Hyundai i40
- Toyota Prius
- Volkswagen Passat
- Mazda 6
- Citroen Grand C4 Picasso/Grand Space Tourer
1. Vauxhall Insignia (Mk2)
- Our pick: Vauxhall Insignia 1.5 Turbo SRi Nav (2018/6, 46k miles, £11,325)
For the third year on the bounce the versatile Vauxhall Insignia has scooped the Used Family Car silverware, its exceptional value for money making the Insignia the number one choice for families looking to make their cash go further.
With its traditional hatchback shape, the Insignia lacks the fashionable appeal of pricier SUVs, but the Vauxhall’s sleek body hides a cavernous interior that rivals upmarket models from the class above for space and premium appeal. And of course, if you need even more room, then there’s always the vast Sports Tourer, which is also available in rough-and- tumble Country Tourer guise complete with tough body cladding, a raised ride height and all-wheel drive.
Regardless of trim level, the Vauxhall isn’t short of standard kit, either, with touchscreen infotainment that includes seamless phone connectivity and enough gadgets and gizmos to make a luxury saloon owner green with envy.
On the move, supple suspension and hushed refinement make the Vauxhall a relaxing place to spend time, and few cars are as capable of effortlessly munching motorway miles. But if you do have to take the long route home, then the accurate steering, assured handling and strong traction mean the Insignia is more entertaining than you’d think.
Long-haul motorists will love the frugal and refined diesels, while the hot GSi delivers a surprising turn of speed. However, it’s the turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol that best suits the Insignia’s easy-going character, thanks to its compelling blend of punch and economy. The standard six-speed manual gearbox is effective enough, but the smooth eight-speed automatic option is worth seeking out, too.
Of course, the Vauxhall’s humble image and mainstream badge aren’t going to win you any bragging rights in the golf club car park, but that also means it costs a lot less than used premium rivals, so we’re sure you’ll be willing to sacrifice a little street cred.
2. Skoda Superb (Mk3)
The Skoda Superb remains one of the best big family cars money can buy. That said, the Skoda is a little pricier than an equivalent Insignia, which is why it’s the runner-up here. Yet with a huge and classy cabin, engaging driving dynamics, top-notch comfort and a plug-in hybrid option, it’s a top choice if you have a bigger budget.
While it’s been around since 2015, the Superb range was facelifted in 2019 when some welcome technology updates included the availability of matrix LED headlamps and adaptive cruise control. The latest Superb has an array of high tech infotainment systems too, with all cars having at least an 8-inch touchscreen, and higher spec models getting a 9.2-inch version. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for cars fitted with the fab Virtual Cockpit digital dash display – it’s standard on top-spec Superbs, but a cost-option on several higher grades.
Even if your budget only runs to a slightly older, non-facelifted Superb, you’ll still be enjoying the benefits of driving one of the most practical large family cars around. Within the VW Group, only the long-wheelbase Audi A8 can rival the Superb on rear seat space and legroom.
3. Peugeot 508 (Mk2)
What the Peugeot 508 lacks in space and versatility it more than makes up for in style. The sleek saloon-car silhouette actually hides a handy hatchback tailgate, while the cabin is roomy enough. A cushioned ride and excellent refinement mean the 508 laps up long trips, and there’s a PHEV option.
The 508’ sleek French style isn’t limited to the exterior – Peugeot’s i-Cockpit dashboard layout, generous equipment levels and plush materials give a surprisingly premium feel. Equipment as standard is generous across the range, with Bluetooth and DAB radio coming on all models. The 508 shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to run either, with average fuel economy figures over 40mpg for petrol cars and over 50mpg for diesels.
4. Hyundai i40 (Mk1)
The Hyundai i40 was often overlooked when new, which means it makes a a smart used-car buy, offering a lot of car on a shoestring budget.
Hyundai has focused more on comfort, efficiency and in-car kit, rather than driving dynamics. Soaking up bumps in the road, the i40 is a good motorway work horse and will be cheap to run as all diesel engines, manual or automatic, can achieve over 60mpg and have the potential to travel up to 700 miles on a tank.
Interior styling is sleek and offers an up-market and solid feel. All cars come with a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth phone connectivity, although you’ll need to select the SE Nav trim for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated seats and privacy glass.
5. Toyota Prius (Mk4)
The car that introduced the concept of ‘alternative’ hybrid powertrains in the late 1990s is now so far into the mainstream that it’s a shoe-in as one of our favourite used car options for families.
The model continues its pioneering mission to make everyone a hybrid driver, but there’s nothing about the current Toyota Prius to justify outmoded ‘hair shirt and sandals’ eco-warrior slurs. The Prius is simply a great family car that’s cheap to run, fully lives up to Toyota’s fantastic reliability rep, and looks good too – at least if you’re on the admiring side of its 'Marmite' styling.
The combination of an efficient 1.8-petrol engine with hybrid self-charging battery assistance means a carefully driven Prius can deliver similar economy to a diesel rival but with much lower emissions. The latest Mk4 version is pleasant to drive too, with an updated CVT auto gearbox offering much improved refinement under acceleration, and a chassis that’s sprightly and composed.
Practicality is good too, with decent boot space and a comfortable cabin. However, a battery under the rear seat does reduce headroom in the back. That’s a problem for taller adults, but one of the very few flies in the ointment.
6. Volkswagen Passat (Mk8)
The rise and rise of prestige executive models like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class has knocked the stuffing out of the large family car class, but it’s had a profound effect on survivors like the Volkswagen Passat.
Staid and conservative it may be, but the big VW reeks of refined quality, and it’s packed with enough technology to rival the best of ostensibly more prestigious rivals. It’s also extremely roomy and the interior provides a genuinely feel-good ambience thanks to its well-conceived design and high quality build.
The latest model arrived in 2015 and was facelifted in 2019, and the latest 1.6 and 2.0 TDI diesels are smooth and efficient while the newest (post-facelift) 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrols are torquey and efficient.
All Passats are extremely comfortable to drive, and make excellent long distance cars with supportive seats and a fine driving position with plenty of adjustment. There’s an impressive amount of passenger space front and rear, while the Passat also features plenty of in-cabin storage and a massive 585-litre boot.
7. Mazda 6 (Mk3)
The Mazda 6 won the Auto Express Best Family Car category in 2014, and while it’s been around for a few years a facelift in 2018 has kept the model relevant. In fact it’s still one of the best in its class in 2020, which shows how good it was back in 2014.
One of the key characteristics that has survived undimmed is the Mazda’s fun-to-drive factor. It’s one of the few family cars that’s positively fun to drive, combining sporty handling with efficient and punchy powertrains.
Most people reckon the Mazda 6 is a looker too, with its sleek and sporty lines offering a refreshing alternative to the often conservative style of rivals. Fortunately the svelte lines don’t translate to a cramped interior, and the Mazda 6 offers plenty of space inside for five adults, as well as their luggage.
On the road, the Mazda 6 is supple and refined, with only the more tautly sprung Sport Nav version feeling a bit firm for some tastes. The cabin is a great place to be too, with a top quality feel and high spec including a tablet-style 7-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash. The SE L spec is one of the best value new versions, and they look a great used bet too with climate control, parking sensors and power mirrors amongst the goodies.
8. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso/Space Tourer (Mk2)
Families looking for practical interior space will be bowled over by the cabin of this French people carrier, and especially the folding seat arrangement which is one of the easiest around to use. It’s exceptionally roomy inside too, and has a light and airy feel wherever you sit – including the third row of seats which separates this Grand version from the regular C4 Space Tourer.
The Citroen is also quite a stylish machine, which is something of a rarity in its class, while the interior is even more eye-catching than the exterior, especially in versions with the big 12-inch display screen fixed in the middle of the dashboard. Spec levels are pretty comprehensive too, with top of the range versions adding luxuries like electrically-adjusted massaging seats.
The engine line-up consists of efficient diesel and petrol engines, the latter including a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo option that fits the bill surprisingly well thanks to 129bhp. A chassis that’s built for comfort completes the winning hand.
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