Best for reliability: Vauxhall Astra
The Vauxhall Astra is available in two trims: a five-door hatchback and a tourer estate. Both are comfortable and spacious for three rear passengers, and have wide opening doors - a great help when fitting infant car seats! The boot size in the hatch is slightly smaller than some rivals at 370L but is conveniently square-shaped. The boot capacity is larger in the estate trim.
As a manufacturer, Vauxhall is known for reliability and practicality - and the Astra is no exception. It also scored five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests. The model has a well-built, easy-to-use standard interior, but higher levels of tech come at a price in the more advanced trim levels.
Best for space: Skoda Superb
The Skoda Superb has been awarded the AutoExpress ‘Family Car of the Year’ for three consecutive years, as well as five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests. It’s available in two trim levels: hatchback and estate. Both trims are spacious enough for three adult rear passengers to sit comfortably - with room to spare. There’s loads of cabin storage too, as well as a huge 625L boot.
The car boasts a comfortable and smooth drive, including over bumps in the road. The Superb features a dash-mounted touchscreen infotainment system, as well as holders for iPads in the back of the front seats - perfect for keeping younger passengers entertained! The car itself is quite big, and some can find it difficult to manoeuvre. So you might want to upgrade to parking sensors with this model.
Best for style: Mazda6
The Mazda6 was awarded ‘Best Family Car’ by AutoExpress in 2013 and 2014 and is still maintaining that reputation today. It’s available as a saloon and a tourer estate, both of which are comfortable and spacious for rear passengers. One critique is the relatively small boot space of 480L - this is rivalled by the likes of the Skoda Superb.
The Mazda6 scored five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests and models are becoming more reliable with each new generation. The car boasts good fuel economy - using around 68mpg on average - which should help minimise running costs. However, the standard specification is limited; the more advanced, pricier models have better tech included.
Best for young families: Ford Focus
The Ford Focus is available as a hatchback or an SUV-crossover. The hatchback trim is spacious and comfortable for front and rear passengers - rivalling competitors Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra. Four six-foot passengers could fit comfortably, and the lack of a massive transmission tunnel in newer models gives even more leg room. The wide rear doors and ISOFIX seat locks are great for fitting infant car seats, plus door protectors to prevent scuffs and dents on the edges are available.
The Ford Focus fared well in the Driver Power survey on reliability and practicality, and it scored five stars in the Euro NCAP safety test. The Focus can be critiqued on boot capacity - 375L - however, this is only slightly smaller than rivals. The standard specification list isn’t the most extensive; you’ll have to upgrade to a higher trim level for better tech.
Best for driver satisfaction: Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf comes at a higher price point than its rivals, but it is possibly worth the extra money - it was awarded AutoExpress’ ‘Compact Family Car of the Year’ in 2018. It’s available as a three-door and five-door hatchback or as an estate. The hatchback is spacious enough for three passengers in the rear, however, it might not be too comfortable on longer journeys. The car itself is comfortable and smooth over bumps in the road.
The Golf has set a benchmark in terms of boot size (380L) and standard specifications. Plus, the included equipment, dashboard and infotainment systems rival many - however, these can be a bit fiddly. Like many of its rivals, the Golf scored five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests and has been rated highly on build quality, performance, and comfort in Driver Power surveys.
Best for big families: Citroen C4 Picasso
One of the biggest selling points of the Picasso as a family car is its availability as a seven-seater, as well as a five-seater. The focus of this model is comfort; the raised suspension gives a smooth drive and the seats are spacious - the three rear seats are equally sized rather than the middle seat being smaller. All three seats have ISOFIX systems and folding picnic tables. There’s no transmission tunnel under the floor so leg room is maximised.
The boot capacity ranges from 537L to 630L. The rear seating bench can slide forwards and backwards to suit the driver’s needs. The Picasso scored five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests and performed well in the Driver Power survey for practicality, comfort, and running costs. However, it didn't rank as strongly for build quality and performance.
Best all-rounder: Kia Cee’d
The Kia Cee’d is available as three trim levels: three-door and five-door hatchback, or an estate. The five-door hatchback is a good compromise between style and practicality. The hatchback is the same size as, and rivals, the Volkswagen Golf - with a 380L boot, wide doors and spacious seating. The boot capacity is 528L in the estate. Like the Golf, the Cee’d boasts a high-spec touchscreen system as standard.
In 2017, the Cee’d was awarded ‘Best Compact Family Car’ by AutoExpress; it has also gained five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests. It’s Kia’s warranty scheme that is unrivalled - all cars have a seven-year transferable warranty as standard.
ChooseMyCar Staff Writer
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