How to pick the best car for you and your family


There are many very good cars on the market to choose from, so much so that choosing one can feel like a significant issue.

It’s important to establish your requirements and confine your search to cars that can meet them. A family car has to fulfil many functions from the school run, shopping, family holidays, long and short trips and maybe as a car for your teenagers to learn to drive in.

Having swotted up for their driving theory test it’ll help your teen considerably if the car they practice in is easy to drive so they can put their new-found knowledge of the rules of the road to the test.

What is a ‘family car?’

With cars in each class generally larger than their predecessors, the potential for a given vehicle to be the family transport is wider than before. For example, VW’s ‘supermini’ – the Polo – is now as big as the earlier generation Golf – the next size up in the range. Shoppers don’t necessarily have to think of the established ‘big’ models to transport their family around.

Small family cars

This class contains favourites such as the VW Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus. With decent cabin space and a hatchback, they may well be fine for your needs and, as suggested earlier, would still be a decent model to help a teenager to learn to drive in.

Family cars

Models such as the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Mazda 6 are what many would equate to the more traditional ‘family car’ size.

Estate cars

The estate car – more commonly available in the ‘family car’ bracket – takes load capacity a step further. Estate cars are usually very similar to their hatchback or saloon stablemates to drive – just with the all-important size advantage.


MPVs (multi purpose vehicles) are also known as ‘multi-seaters’. Cars such as the Ford Galaxy and SEAT Alhambra are popular examples and allow a little more room for the bigger family.


SUVs (sports utility vehicles) have the look of an off-road type of car even though they may not actually be off roaders. The very popular Nissan Qashqai is a good example and caters for families that fancy a sporty flavour.

Assessing your needs

Your requirements should point you in the direction of which class of car from the above will be most suitable.

Do you carry many people? If so, an MPV might be the best choice but beware of luggage space. If you have teenagers learning to drive – or about to – consider if it will prove a bit big and intimidating to learn in.

SUVs might sound appealing but be aware they’re not necessarily more durable or able to combat poor road conditions than other types of car. Some have four-wheel drive, but many have ‘ordinary’ car mechanicals.

A small family car might appeal from lower initial purchase prices and running costs, but will it really be big enough? If so, it’s a good choice of car that various members of the family can drive easily including young learners.

Draw up a list of requirements and make sure you tick off all the practical ‘essentials’ before moving on to style and taste considerations.

Safety is bound to be a key consideration, so plenty of air bags, anti-skid technology and – if you have very young children – facilities for the safe and easy fitting of child seats are important, although most modern models of all sizes should be good for this.

Once you’ve settled on a suitable class of car, buying information resources like this one will give you reviews and other data to help your research to narrow down your final choice of vehicle.

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