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Families come in all shapes and sizes, and so do family cars. Here we pick out the best family cars for 2020. Find out what to look for in a family car, which family cars stand out and why — then find your new family car with Auto Trader.

From city-friendly family cars, to large seven-seaters, here are the best family cars on sale in 2020.

Best small family cars 2020

Volkswagen Golf
Now on its eighth version, the Volkswagen Golf endures because of its near-perfect blend of space, comfort, build quality, styling and value for money. It’s not the cheapest family hatchback on the market, because you pay a bit extra for that badge, but owners are rarely disappointed. In 2020, you can choose from petrol, diesel, hybrid or pure electric.

Find a Volkswagen Golf for sale on Auto Trader.
Yellow Volkswagen Golf parked in front of a modern building
Peugeot 2008
A dinky SUV with Peugeot’s great interior - a whizzy digital cockpit, pleasingly flat gearlever and a low-down, compact steering wheel. Choose from fossil fuels or an all-electric e-2008 version. Either way, it will put a smile on your face.

Read the full review here, or find a Peugeot 2008 for sale on Auto Trader.
White Peugeot 2008 on a private driveway
Volvo XC40 Recharge
Volvo’s incredibly well-received XC40 pumped-up hatchback/small SUV now gets the full electric treatment. It should prove a winner: a premium car with a luxurious interior, quiet ride, generous supply of connectivity, which is top of the tree for safety, too.
White Volvo XC40 Recharge in a pink, modern indoor space
Renault Clio
One to watch: mysteriously this French hatchback has lagged behind the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa but we feel that 2020 will be its year. As you go up the trim and price levels, the interior changes into a remarkably upmarket one, with splashes of colour and a large tablet-style touchscreen.

Read the full review here, or find a Renault Clio for sale on Auto Trader.
Red Renault Clio in a Mediterranean field
Mercedes GLA
The A-class hatchback has now inevitably spawned an SUV version of itself, to sit below the GLC, GLE and monstrous GLS seven-seater. Expect a raft of engine and trim options, and an accomplished ride and handling experience. The GLA will get the marvellous MBUX, which is the brand’s new connectivity - amazing graphics that put it ahead of the competition.

Explore the Mercedes GLA Class range on Auto Trader.
Chrome Mercedes GLA parked in front of a white cliff face
Toyota Corolla
The Corolla is the biggest-selling car badge in the entire industry, worldwide, if not in the UK. It’s been absent in Britain since 2006, when it was replaced by the Auris, but it’s back and better than ever. There are no diesels: just petrols and hybrids (not plug-in, but “self-charging”, as Toyota describes what used to be known simply as hybrids). Quick steering and smooth suspension give this a deftness of touch to drive.

Read the full review here, or find a Toyota Corolla for sale on Auto Trader.
Black Toyota Corolla parked on a walled driveway
Skoda Scala
One of the surprises of the year: a truly great car for the money. Light and spacious inside, and so quiet on the move that blindfolded passengers will swear they are in a car costing twice as much. Skodas are big on practicality so there are loads of useful storage solutions, and a generous boot.

Read the full review here, or find a Skoda Scala for sale on Auto Trader.
Blue Skoda Scala driving through the countryside

Best medium family cars

Ford Mustang Mach-E
The new Mustang Mach-E is the most exciting new car to come out of Ford since the GT supercar. It looks fantastic - a mixture of chunky and svelte - and is the first all-electric SUV the brand has produced. It majors on sporty - it’s rear-wheel drive (or 4WD if you choose that option) and “drives like a Mustang” which means it’s pleasingly fast in a straight line.
Red Ford Mustang Mach-E driving through a mountain range
Alfa Romeo Tonale
Alfa still knowns how to pull Italian flare out of the bag, even when it’s destined for an SUV. This will be a plug-in hybrid, sitting below the Stelvio in terms of size and price, and is destined to be Alfa’s best-seller. Possibly the best-looking SUV of 2020.

Learn more about the upcoming Alfa Romeo Tonale here.
Alfa Romeo Tonale interiors, with tan seats
Audi Q4 e-Tron
Cheaper and smaller than the original e-Tron (a large, all-electric SUV which went on sale in 2019), the Q4 e-Tron favours sporty performance over large-SUV space. With an electric battery powering the motors, it will be quick off the line, with Audi’s pared-back, smart interior and easy-to-use infotainment system.

The Q4 e-Tron is set for a Geneva Show debut, so check back for more details.
Preview art of a silver Audi Q4 e-Tron
Tesla Model Y
Hot on the heels of the Tesla Model 3, which is still finding its way to patient customers in the UK, comes the Tesla Model Y. So fast is this shrunken take on the Model X SUV, Tesla claims it will slay a Porsche 911 GT2 round a track. Teslas are no strangers to searingly rapid acceleration, so watch this space.

Meanwhile you’re assured rapid charging from the only decent supercharger network in the UK, and kids will love the software on board - Santa sleigh bells for indicators, anyone?
Polestar 2
An actual game-changer from the new all-electric Swedish company that started life as a Volvo spin-off. Connectivity comes from a partnership with Google, so will be familiar, extensive and easy to use for most customers. Given the Volvo link, the car will be one of the safest models in the UK, as well as comfortable with a premium interior, fast and with a good electric range.

Sneak a first look at the Polestar 2 here.
Polestar 2 parked against white cliffs and rocks

Best large family cars

Land Rover Defender
The wait was worth it: the new Defender comes packed with tons of adventure-oriented options like ladders on the outside and laptop racks and charging slots inside. There’s an optional third jump seat in the front row, and leather-clad grab rails. Plus, of course, that off-roading ability. Undoubtedly the car with the most cache on the school run in 2020.
The Land Rover Defender 90 and 110, both in Pangea Green
Bentley Bentayga Hybrid
If it’s luxury you’re after, look no further. Bentley does the best interiors in the world, with graceful and startling colour combinations, split wood and leather surfaces, and unusual, sustainable grains. The plug-in hybrid version gives you quiet, clean motoring for the work and school daily commutes, and the off-road prowess is excellent. Oh, and it’s fast, too.
Orange Bentley Bentayga Hybrid driving through trees
Mercedes GLE
Possibly our favourite large SUV of 2020. Now with seven seats in a medium-sized body, the GLE has Mercedes’ brilliant new infotainment system, which includes sat nav that gives you a camera view of the street ahead and an augmented-reality arrow pointing down the road you should take.

Explore the Mercedes GLE Class range on Auto Trader.
Red Mercedes GLE taking a corner in a sunset
Mazda CX-30
This compact SUV will be Mazda's best-selling car and rightly so: a pin-sharp drive, smooth engines, quick gearshifts and chunky styling combine to offer the CX-30 customer great value for money. Mazdas aren't known for being cheap, but when you look at the amount of kit you get as standard, the price looks very reasonable.

Read the full review here, or find a Mazda CX-30 for sale on Auto Trader.
Red Mazda CX-30 parked on concrete

What is a family car?

Traditionally, family cars came with a big engine, big boot and enough seats for four or five passengers. The Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat are two classic examples.

Modern family cars come in a greater range of shapes and sizes than ever before, with SUVs, estate cars and affordable hatchbacks proving amongst the most popular.

What to look for in a family car

1. Safety
One easy way to check the safety of a family car is to use the Euro NCAP five-star rating system. This is the standardised crash safety scoring system across all new cars on sale in Europe. A car’s safety rating is determined by a series of tests.

Also look into that car’s individual score for areas such as child occupancy protection, too. The Volvo XC90, for example, is one of the safest family cars on sale, scoring 97% for adult occupancy protection and 87% for child occupancy protection.

Also check whether you can deactivate the front airbag – something you have to do if you need to fit a rear-facing child seat in the front.
2. Shape
Try to choose a car shape that is tall and boxy. That may not sound as appealing as a sporty coupe, but it lets you maximise every litre of space.

A taller car usually gives you a higher driving position, as well as lightening the load on your back as you don’t have to stoop so much to install child car seats or get buggies in and out.
3. Doors
In most circumstances, five-door cars are the best choice for families given they provide to rear seats.

If you take a test drive, try opening the doors when stopped on an incline to see whether close on you. This would obviously be inconvenient when trying to get children into their seats.

Also see if the car has wide-opening doors. These make it easier to install child safety seats, and make it easier for adult family members to get in and out of the car, especially if they have difficulty doing so.

Some MPVs and people carriers have sliding rear doors, which may better suit you if easy access is a key factor.
4. Seats
It’s critical you check the flexibility of those rear seats. Are they easy to tumble and fold for more boot space?

Also check whether the seats slide. If so, you can slide them back to give extra legroom or slide them forwards to make passing things back easier.

If the seats are all the same size, you could avoid arguments about who sits in the middle. Accessibility to these seats is another factor that needs considering, especially in seven-seaters where the rearmost cars can be hard to access. Take a look at our best cars for large families.

If you’re going to be using child safety seats, check the number of Isofix points in the car. And remember, dark cabin materials are better at hiding stains and spillages.
5. Storage
Most cars come with plenty of storage cubbies but be sure to check whether they’re a good size for all your parental paraphernalia. Are they easy to reach if you have any spillages when driving? Do the kids have enough storage if, for example, you want to hide their toys and games when the car is parked up?
6. Specification
Specifying your vehicle correctly will not only help make your life easier, it will help ensure you get a better price for your car when you come to sell it.

You can often spec a new car with family-friendly features like tinted rear windows with UV-filtering, or in-built sun blinds, to limit sun exposure on long journeys. If you do longer journeys, it’s wise to consider a setup for tablets or DVD screens to keep the kids entertained. Take note of whether the car has enough internal power sockets.

Consider options such as a reversing camera in addition to reversing sensors, hill-hold assist to prevent the car from rolling back on any awkward hill start, plus a panoramic sunroof to increase your sense of space and light.