Best cheap family cars
Family cars are usually bought with a tight family budget. Here are ten of the best cheap family cars to save you money
Cheap family cars can be a great way to save money, especially if they’ve been well maintained and used sparingly over the course of their lives. Opt for a reliable second hand model with good fuel economy, and you’ll likely save hundreds, if not thousands, in running costs compared to a factory fresh car with similar performance. The lower purchase price will be the icing on the cake.
Which is all the more important if you’re buying a car with your loved ones in mind. At the end of the day you have mouths to feed and bills to pay, and if you can make a saving with a cheap family car that is just as practical, comfortable and roadworthy as a completely new car, then the decision really is a no-brainer.
Fortunately the term ‘family car’ is a broad one, mainly encompassing MPVs and estates, but also branching out towards saloons, SUVs and large hatchbacks. That should ensure plenty of choice for a range of budgets across the second-hand car market.
For example, did you know that you could buy a Nissan Leaf - with an original price tag of nearly £30k - for just £7,995? That seems like a bargain for one of the most popular electric vehicles ever and the 124 mile range is still comparable to a lot of modern EVs.
If estates are more to your liking, then do have a look at the Volvo V70. We came across a 2017 example that had more than halved in value to £18,499.
While that’s quite a drop, it’s also the tip of the iceberg in terms of uncovering incredible value for money. Without further ado, here are the ten best cheap family cars that we found across the second-hand market...
We found: Acenta 24kWh (2013/63-reg, 28k miles)Price new: £28,690Now: £7,995Engine: Electric motor, 107bhpEconomy: 15kWh/100kmCO2: 0g/kmEuro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)
Diving into the world of electric motoring with a brand-new car still isn’t cheap, but opt for a second-hand EV and you can benefit from the depreciation suffered by some of the earlier mainstream electric models to hit the market, such as the first-generation Nissan Leaf.
By current standards a 24kWh battery pack doesn’t give an impressive range, with a mere 124 miles on a charge. However, unlike some of our other bargains at this price, you’ll probably find a fresh Leaf. Due to the early model’s range limitations, many examples have covered few miles.
We found: 1.6 TDI S 105 manual (2013/63-reg, 80k)Price new: £20,640 Now: £8,000Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 103bhp Economy: 55.4mpgCO2: 134g/km Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2003)
Volkswagen’s Touran delivers sensible, no-frills family transport in a package that’s well built, good to drive and – at well over half price after 80,000 miles – pretty good value. Thanks to the badge, used values are higher than for similar rivals, but the Touran is a practical and reliable choice that’s perfect for family life, with seven-seat practicality.
The car feels neat and measured to drive rather than exciting; the 1.6-litre diesel we’ve picked should have more than enough poke for most people, while returning real-world fuel economy of around 45mpg. It’s not exactly full of flair, but it’s a very sensible choice.
We found: 1.5 dCi Acenta (2014/64-reg, 84k miles)Price new: £21,600Now: £7,495Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 108bhpEconomy: 74.3mpgCO2: 99g/kmEuro NCAP: 5 stars (2014)
Perhaps no other car quite captures the crossover craze like the Qashqai. The Mk2 version has been built in Sunderland since November 2013, and has always been a firm fixture in the UK top 10. Even now, well past the halfway stage in its life, it’s still Britain’s favourite SUV.
The Nissan’s success is due to its blend of sensible, inoffensive and no-nonsense traits. There are more stylish, comfortable and affordable alternatives on sale, many of them better to drive, but few offer the jack-of-all-trades versatility family crossover buyers crave.
We found: 2.0 TDI SE 5dr (2014/14-reg, 77k miles)Price new: £22,905 Now: £8,000Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp Economy: 68.9mpgCO2: 106g/km Euro NCAP: 5 stars (2009)
The VW Golf is a consummate all-rounder and one of the best used buys around. We found a pre-facelift 2014 car, which is largely the same underneath as the latest Mk7.5, and it features a frugal yet punchy 2.0-litre diesel and decent kit in SE spec, all for less than half its new price just five years after its launch.
All the usual Golf traits apply: solid build quality, great refinement, impressive packaging and confident – if not particularly thrilling – handling. The Golf is quietly competent, and a well-kept example should still feel just as impressive long after it’s passed the 50,000-mile mark.
The lure of that VW badge means a used model should offer decent residuals when you come round to sell again, and you’re unlikely to encounter any unforeseen mechanical problems.
We found: 1.7 CRDi 4 (2014/64-reg, 63k miles)Price new: £24,855Now: £11,000Engine: 1.7-litre 4cyl, 114bhpEconomy: 52.3mpgCO2: 143g/kmEuro NCAP: 5 stars (2010)
In a class where style is paramount, the third-generation Sportage became one of the most desirable crossovers around upon its 2010 launch. It was designed by ex-Audi man Peter Schreyer, and it still looks handsome today.
Sales were strong new, so used supply is plentiful. The 1.7-litre diesel is fairly smooth and frugal, while in top-spec 4 trim, the Sportage comes loaded with equipment; leather seats, sat-nav and all-round parking sensors are included as standard.
We found: 2.0 TDI CR 140 SE DSG (2015/15-reg, 81k)Price new: £23,440Now: £7,990Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhpEconomy: 54.3mpgCO2: 135g/kmEuro NCAP: 5 stars (2015)
Large family cars from mainstream manufacturers are in decline, yet this means you can bag a big model such as the excellent Superb for not much used.
Skoda’s flagship car is no longer an entirely modest proposition, and well-equipped examples could leave VW Passat buyers thinking twice. The current-generation model isn’t quite in budget, but the Mk2 Superb laid the foundations of its success.
The 2.0-litre TDI engine makes most sense in the Superb. Allied to a solid six-speed DSG automatic, it’s an easy, comfortable and spacious family cruiser.
We found: 2.0 D4 Inscription (2017/66-reg, 82k miles)Price new: £38,955Now: £18,499Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 187bhpEconomy: 62.8mpgCO2: 119g/kmEuro NCAP: 5 stars (2017)
While Volvo might have been focusing on SUVs of late, the brand is synonymous with family estates – and with the V90, you could pick up a great second-hand buy.
This is one of the largest executive wagons on sale, and with its 560-litre load bay there’s plenty of space – even if its boot capacity is a little down on that of an equivalent BMW 5 Series Touring or Mercedes E-Class Estate. However, those dimensions also mean the Volvo is roomy in the rear.
What the V90 lacks in outright practicality, though, it more than makes up for in quality and style. It’s well built, it’s good looking and its interior is well appointed; the Inscription model we found features a nine- inch infotainment screen, as well as a 12.3-inch digital dashboard panel.
We found: 2.0 TDI SE (2015/15-reg, 83k miles)Price new: £27,695Now: £13,000 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhpEconomy: 50.4mpgCO2: 146g/kmEuro NCAP: 5 stars (2010)
Access to the rear of the cabin is easy, thanks to a pair of huge sliding doors, which makes strapping in children simple, while each of the five rearmost seats (all three in the middle row have Isofix child seat fixings) can be folded completely flat into the load floor to reveal a vast 2,297 litres of boot capacity.
Storage spaces are plentiful, too, so there’s little that the Alhambra can’t carry. At less than half its price when new and just four years old, the example we found on sale is good value as well.
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
We found: 2.0 BlueHDi Exclusive EAT6 (2015/15-reg, 90k miles)Price new: £26,100Now: £7,295Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhpEconomy: 65.7mpgCO2: 112g/kmEuro NCAP: 5 stars (2013)
If you need to move seven people around in decent comfort and relative style, then the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso (now rebadged the Grand C4 SpaceTourer for the most recent edition) has been by far your best bet ever since it arrived in 2013.
The easy-going 148bhp 2.0-litre BlueHDi automatic model in Exclusive trim that we found is a lot of car for not a lot of money, and it’s frugal, too. This is a vast MPV, with lots of room for five adults in the cabin, plus space for two children in the rearmost third row.
The interior is well designed, practical and spacious. From behind the wheel, the Grand C4 Picasso majors on comfort over fun, thanks mainly to the compliant, soft suspension.