What Were the Best Family Cars in 2021?

SUV vs. hatchback – it's the big family car decision. It all comes down to the weekend really: will you be shopping in the packed city centre or getting away from it all and heading to the country roads? An SUV offers oodles of cosy comfort for long journeys, but it eats up time when you quickly need a parking spot. Hatchbacks often lead the pack when it comes to fuel economy, but some might not have enough space for bigger kids and the family's luggage. Crossovers go for the best-of-both-worlds approach, but are they a successful design in practice? Read on to explore the ten best used family cars from 2021 that bring versatility and hit all the essentials of a family car: space, comfort and practicality.

What are the most economical family cars?

Whether you’re focused on going green or just want to save a bit on trips to the petrol pumps, paying attention to your fuel economy is a good idea. Check out some of 2021’s most popular used family cars with great fuel economy.

1. Toyota Corolla

Looking for a car with great comfort, smart interiors and sharp styling? The Corolla is the right choice for you. While there are some compromises in rear seating space, the Corolla brings incredible tech to the game, with the latest models including an eight-inch touchscreen on all trims. While the price point is slightly higher on the newer models, they’re very efficient to run thanks to the hybrid powertrain. This also gets you more benefit-in-kind savings in the long run if you’re shopping for company cars.

Grey Skoda Octavia

2. Škoda Octavia

This Škoda is the largest of the family hatchbacks popular in 2021. It shares a platform with VW’s Golf, but brings 200 more litres of boot space at a cheaper price. There’s a good choice of efficient engines and an excellent plug-in hybrid variant that means you can do short trips purely on electric power. What’s more, the ride is quiet and comfortable. The Octavia is yet another example of Škoda’s focus on practicality, and this one’s quite a looker too.

What are the most reliable family cars?

Whether you’re on the school run or headed off on an epic adventure, you’ll want a car you can trust.

Blue Kia Ceed

3. Kia Ceed

This astonishingly designed entry from Kia brings great value with an unbeatable seven-year warranty. Incredibly reliable, the Ceed offers a plethora of engine choices and is equipped with lots of standard gear, even in the entry-level trims. A comfortable ride and good space for bulky child seats make the Ceed a prime catch, especially for new families. There’s plenty of boot space too, if you want to pack things up for a road trip on the weekends.

Red skoda superb external

4. Škoda Superb

Got kids who seem to be growing taller by the second? Need to fit a pram in the boot too? No problem. The Škoda Superb has you covered. The shape may look dull from some angles, but if you need 660 litres of boot space and generous room for the back seat, this is the best car for the job. The Superb also delivers incredible reliability, safety, and interior tech to keep things comfortable on all fronts. With so much practicality on offer, it’s no wonder the Škoda Superb was one of the most popular used family cars in 2021.

What are the best performance family cars?

Family cars can still mean fun driving and fancy looks. Check out these options for high-performance cars that still have space for the shopping.

Black Volkswagen Golf

5. Volkswagen Golf

Having been around for over six decades now, German carmaker Volkswagen has perfected the art of making family hatchbacks in the form of the Golf. Comfortable interiors and an incredibly thrilling ride make it a fun-for-all deal. There’s decent boot space too, making it easy to lug around heavier things. High-tech gadgetry, superb engines and a top-of-the-line safety kit add up to an incredibly practical purchase. The Golf has remained a consistent chart-topper in terms of sales, and 2021 was no exception. With the extra badge appeal and top-notch build quality, it’s no wonder that the Golf is a bestselling family car, year after year.

Red Mercedes-Benz A class

6. Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz prioritises safety and comfort above all. Smart styling, top-notch build quality and lots of standard kit make the A-Class the ideal family car. Add to it the incredible reliability that the Merc badge brings, and you know you’ve got a car that will last. What stands out most is the impeccable ride and handling – it’s quiet and effortless. The A-Class is just the right size to zip through town roads and firm enough to get good traction on the motorways, which is a nice balance to strike. For a family car with more than a touch of class, you can’t go wrong with an A-Class.

White BMW 3-series

7. BMW 3 Series

A benchmark in the compact executive segment, this sporty saloon intuitively knows what it’s doing on the road. The 3 Series can easily provide both smooth, serene driving and all-out thrills – so what makes it appear in a list that’s chock-full of practical purchases? For one thing, the new variants with efficient hybrid engines make this a great option for balancing fuel efficiency with comfort and performance. A phenomenal purchase as a family car, the 3 Series gets you lots of standard tech, luxury interiors and dynamic handling at slashed capital costs in the used car market.

What are the most practical family cars?

When it’s time to wrestle toddlers in and out of the backseat or pack everyone’s luggage into the boot, the most practical family cars can help make life that little bit easier.

Silver Ford Focus

8. Ford Focus

One of the UK’s most popular cars of all time, not just 2021, is the Ford Focus. The fact that it’s such a familiar sight on the streets is a good indication of what it brings to the table: affordable fun and incredible practicality. Spacious interiors and reliable, efficient engines are the highlights of this family favourite. If you need just a bit more in terms of sheer size, the Estate model will fit the bill.

Orange Dacia Duster

9. Dacia Duster

The Dacia Duster brings all the basics that are needed in a family car at an affordable price. You get a good view from the driver’s seat, a generous boot and practical interiors. To top it off, it’s astonishing how smooth and easy this car is to drive. Thanks to the choice in trims and engines, you can tailor the car down to a T. The Duster is hard to beat in the pre-owned market if you want something spacious that’s ready to go anywhere.

Red Seat Leon

10. SEAT Leon

The SEAT Leon is yet another family hatch that shares a platform with the Golf. The Leon is the ideal car for those who want to prioritise front-seat comfort and boot space. Sharp styling and a decent specs list make this SEAT an especially good purchase, and it ranks highly in the safety department. A nippy ride that’s easy to manoeuvre through narrow lanes and sharp corners, the Leon brings practicality at a very reasonable price point – no wonder it was such a popular family car in 2021.

The family car segment is a busy one, and there’s bound to be plenty of variants no matter what model you choose – so look through a detailed review and be sure to shortlist a couple of options to test drive before you go ahead with the purchase. Check out our guides on the most economical and most reliable picks for family cars, and to see what’s on offer, take a look at our used car listings.

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