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Best cheap family cars

Families don’t come cheap, but these used family cars do

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. Choose the right used family car and you could save hundreds, if not thousands, compared to a factory fresh car with similar capabilities. 

This 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, so if you can make a saving with a cheap family car that’s just as practical, comfortable and roadworthy as a completely new set of wheels, then the decision really is a no-brainer.

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In order to help you find the best cheap family cars, our expert road testers have trawled the classifieds and rounded up their favourite deals right here. The term ‘family car’ is a broad one, too, so there’s plenty of choice including saloons, estates, MPVs, SUVs and even an electric car. Whatever your requirements, there should be a bargain to suit you.

The best cheap family cars

Read on to find the best cheap used family cars listed below.

Audi Q4 e-tron Mk1

  • We found: 40 (82kWh) S line, 2021, 68k miles  - £24,450
  • Years produced: 2021 to date
  • Powertrains available: 55kWh, 82kWh
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When it arrived in 2021, the Audi Q4 e-tron was priced from almost £41,000 and values have yet to slip much below £25k. But there’s the odd example for sale that’s just within budget, and over the next few months this number will increase. 

At this end of the market you’ll be buying a 55kWh edition that has a range of around 200 miles and can charge at 100kW; the 82kWh version doesn’t cost much more, though. Either model is easy to drive and live with, but the cabin quality isn’t quite up to Audi’s usual standards. There’s room for improvement with the high-speed refinement, too. 

Ford Focus Mk4

  • We found: 1.5T Vignale auto, 2019, 17k miles  - £18,499
  • Years produced: 2018 to date
  • Engines available: 1.0T, 1.5T, 2.3T petrol, 1.5 diesel
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Ford may have an everyman image, but don’t be fooled, because the Focus is one of the best all-round family cars in the real world thanks to its blend of affordability, practicality and value. Throw in a great driving experience and for us that seals the deal. 

The vast majority of fourth-generation Focuses available on the used market are fitted with Ford’s perky turbocharged 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine. A 1.5-litre engine is also affordable and we’d go for one of these with a high-spec trim such as Titanium or Vignale. Doing so will provide a level of luxury and performance that’s a bit above the Focus average.

Mitsubishi Outlander Mk3

  • We found: 2.0 hybrid GX3h, 2015, 65k miles  - £9,940
  • Years produced: 2013-2021
  • Engines available: 2.0 petrol, 2.2 diesel, 2.0 PHEV
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As the first plug-in hybrid SUV, the Outlander cornered the market when Mitsubishi put it on sale in 2013, particularly with company car drivers eager to cut their tax bills. They took advantage of the firm’s know-how in building a model with four-wheel drive across the range, plus lots of kit. 

The entry-level GX3h version is all you really need, although the GX4h Outlander is truly luxurious, courtesy of its leather trim, heated and electrically adjustable front seats and much more. Mitsubishi stopped selling new cars in the UK in 2021, but there’s still an official dealer network to look after used models from the Japanese manufacturer.

Peugeot 508 Mk2 

  • We found: 1.5 BlueHDI GT Line, 2020, 45k miles - £14,550
  • Years produced: 2018 to date
  • Engines available: 1.2T, 1.6T petrol, 1.5, 2.0 diesel, 1.6 PHEV
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Peugeot has been rather ambitious with the Mk2 508, taking it upmarket when consumers aren’t convinced that this is a car to take on the best from the likes of BMW. As a result there isn’t a huge selection of used 508s for sale, but when they do come up, they represent much better value than when they were new, and all are well equipped. 

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Most used 508s are diesels, and in this price bracket they’re virtually all 1.5-litre editions, so they’re not over-endowed with power. But they’re quick enough and should be capable of averaging around 50mpg in everyday driving.

Renault Grand Scenic Mk4

  • We found: 1.7 dCi Iconic, 2019, 24k miles  - £14,799
  • Years produced: 2016-2019
  • Engines available: 1.3T petrol, 1.5 diesel

Arguably the first compact MPV ever was the original Renault Megane Scenic, which was launched in 1996. Back then it had just five seats, but a seven-seater was offered with the Mk2 in 2003. By the time the Mk4 version appeared in 2016, five-seater buyers were in the minority. 

Sales in the UK lasted for less than three years and relatively few Grand Scenics were sold, but £15k bags a late low-mileage car. There were just two engines offered, one petrol and one diesel, both with a choice of power outputs. All are worth considering, and the same goes for the manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions. 

Skoda Karoq Mk1

  • We found: 1.5 TSI SE auto, 2019, 35k miles  - £14,975
  • Years produced: 2017 to date
  • Engines available: 1.0T, 1.5T, 2.0T petrol, 1.6, 2.0 diesel
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Sitting in the middle of Skoda’s SUV line-up, between the Kamiq and Kodiaq, the Karoq is the ideal size for most families, because it’s a strict five-seater that’s small enough to park easily. 

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There’s nothing here to set your pulse racing; the driving experience and design are functional, but you get plenty for your money, everything is user-friendly and it’s well made. Most Karoqs have the 1.0 TSI petrol engine, but the more muscular 1.5 TSI unit is within reach and this is what we’d aim for. This was offered with four-wheel drive, but it’s a rarity.

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports Mk12

  • We found: 2.0 hybrid Design, 2019, 26k miles - £18,990 
  • Years produced: 2019 to date
  • Engines available: 1.8, 2.0 hybrid

The Toyota Corolla used to be just the thing for those who saw their car as little more than an appliance – a means to an end of getting from A to B. But the brand upped its game a while ago when it started to produce cars that were interesting to look at as well as to drive, and nowhere is this more evident than with the latest version of the long-running Corolla. 

It’s enjoyable to drive partly because of the slick 1.8 or 2.0-litre hybrid powertrains that are fitted to estates. The former is the most common if buying used, but the latter feels noticeably more lively. 

Best cheap family cars

Fancy a brand-new car instead? These are the best family cars to buy...

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Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

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