With the end of summer holidays approaching, and schools across the UK reopening after COVID-19, families everywhere are getting ready for the back to school rush. As well as managing uniforms, stationery and new-term anxiety, parents and carers also have to adapt to a change of routine, full of busy school runs, drop-offs and pick-ups. It goes without saying that a spacious and safe child-friendly car is an absolute must to cope with the stark transition.
While there are plenty of fantastic models available, the wide variety of features and machinery on offer can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, there’s no need to worry. To help you make the right decision, we’ve compiled our top ten family-friendly cars to suit all budgets and circumstances.
Best cars for large families
Anyone with more than the average ‘2.4 children’ will understand the frustration of a standard five-seater car. Two child seats usually fill the back, with the option for a child over 12 in the front passenger seat. That means you’ll need something a bit bigger if you’ve got four kids, three under 12, or another adult sitting in the passenger seat.
The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 7-Seater is a great option in this respect. Two additional seats fold out from the boot, allowing you to cater for all the kids comfortable and safely, without the typical bulk of a people carrier. It’s also designed with a larger middle seat in the back row of three, allowing you to fit three child seats in the back.
Another great option when you need to seat more than four or five is the Kia Sorento. Again, this car provides seven seats without the unwieldy people carrier look. Styled as an SUV, the car boasts seven spacious seats – again capable of fitting three child seats in the back row alone.
Practicality is a checked box, with a reasonable 142 litres at minimum capacity, expanding to 660 litres with the third row of seats folded and a huge 1,732 with the back seats down too. That’s paired with a range of optional entertainment features on the KX-4 like Bose Premium Surround Sound, a Panoramic Sunroof and Wireless Phone Charging that will make the school run that bit easier for restless kids.
Best compact cars for tight car parks and busy roads
The best-selling Ford Focus proves that you don’t need an enormous SUV to have a valuable family car. In fact, its compact size makes navigating busy school roads and tight car parks easier than ever.
While it doesn’t look like one of the most spacious models, it’s well-suited towards family commitments and comes with adequate rear space for drop-offs and pick-ups.
Plus, one of the most attractive features is Ford’s Active Park Assist, which steers you into parking spaces just 20% longer than your vehicle. The innovative sensors are simple to operate, automatically gaging space to avoid possible accidents.
The Hyundai i10’s intelligent packaging maximises interior space while remaining small enough to effortlessly zip around. While its 252-litre boot may sound small, it still offers enough space for families of four to store all their belongings.
Most impressively, this mini drive has surprisingly nifty handling. Its tight turning circle, agility and light steering makes squeezing into parking spaces a breeze, even on rainy days.
Best safety-first cars
With so much cutting-edge technology, the Volvo V40 makes travelling with small children and driving through hectic school areas amazingly safe and stress-free.
A trailblazer in car safety standards, it boasts a host of impressive features including airbags, inflatable curtains, pre-crash preparation systems, laser-based braking units, auto brakes, pedestrian detection systems, rear cross-traffic detectors and blind spot warning alerts.
Renault Megane Hatchback
With safety at the forefront of design, the Megane possesses a wide range of advanced systems that promises to put the most anxious drivers’ minds at rest.
To ensure the smoothest driving experience possible, there’s adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, traffic-sign recognition and parking sensors. Plus, the Euro NCAP awarded it the maximum five-star overall protection rating, as well as a score of 87% for child protection.
Best fuel-efficient cars for increased use
The Mazda 3 is a fantastic, fuel-efficient alternative to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, making it ideal for families always on-the-go.
Despite the lack of full hybrid models, the mild-hybrid system offers a small amount of electrical assistance to improve the vehicle’s overall efficiency, meaning fewer running costs for you. Plus, because of its lightweight structure, there’s less stress on brake components and tyres, meaning replacements could be required less frequently.
Toyota Prius 1.8 VVTi
The Prius brought hybrid technology into the mainstream market, merging eco-efficiency with sleek aesthetics. In fact, it’s probably the most recognisable hybrid vehicle on our roads, and a firm favourite for environmentally conscious families.
Powered by Toyota’s full hybrid powertrain, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions to a low of 70g/km, the Prius costs surprisingly little to own and run. Additionally, its 1.8 litre petrol engine and powerful electric motor deliver a smooth and wonderfully quiet driving experience.
Best affordable family cars
The Fiat Tipo is budget and child-friendly, proving you don’t need to spend a fortune when looking for a brand-new family car.
Prices start between £12,995-£15,550, which is more than reasonable for a five-door hatchback with a 440-litre boot, air conditioning, electric front windows, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. The roomy interior is equally impressive, with plenty wiggle room for families of all sizes.
The Vauxhall Astra is one of the most popular cars in the UK, rivalling esteemed family SUVs and the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. Its main selling point is its surprising price tag, with negotiations starting from around £14,500 for a used model.
The Astra is described as a down-to-earth, no-frills family hatchback. Nevertheless, the overall quality is impressive, with soft-touch interiors and a high-tech dashboard. Thanks to its emphasis on comfort, school runs needn’t feel drab.
Take the hassle away
Getting the kids back to school doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Neither does finding car finance. At My Car Credit, we want to make it quicker and easier to secure car finance for your perfect back-to-school car.
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