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Best family cars 2021

The best family cars of 2021, all in one place. Whether you’re in the market for a new family car today, or want to see what’s due for release in 2021 – Auto Trader have all the best family cars of 2021 right here.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and so do family cars. Here we pick out the best family cars for 2021. 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 2021.

Best small family cars 2021

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 2021, you can choose from petrol, diesel, hybrid or pure electric.
Read the review here or find a Volkswagen Golf for sale on Auto Trader.
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. And if you like the sound of that but want a more up-to-date look check out the closely related Vauxhall Mokka.
Read the full review here, or find a Peugeot 2008 for sale on Auto Trader.
White Peugeot 2008 on a private driveway
Peugeot 2008
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.
Read the review here or find a Volvo XC40s for sale on Auto Trader.
Renault Clio
One to watch: mysteriously this French hatchback has lagged behind the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa but we feel that 2021 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 touch-screen. . We’ve been running the hybrid version on long-term test and have been impressed at the way it combines big car quality with small car convenience.
Read the full review here, or find a Renault Clio for sale on Auto Trader.
Red Renault Clio in a Mediterranean field
Renault Clio
Mercedes-Benz GLA
The A-Class hatchback has now inevitably spawned an SUV version of itself, to sit below the GLC, GLE and 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 latest infotainment interface - amazing graphics that put it ahead of the competition.
Read the review here or explore the Mercedes GLA Class range on Auto Trader.
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, qualities we certainly enjoyed on our long-term test with the estate version.
Read the full review here, or find a Toyota Corolla for sale on Auto Trader.
Black Toyota Corolla parked on a walled driveway
Toyota Corolla
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.

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.
Read the review here or find a Ford Mustang Mach-E for sale on Auto Trader
Skoda Enyaq IV
Skoda is another brand taking advantage of shared electric foundations from parent company VW, the Enyaq arguably putting a more successful spin on the same ingredients as the ID.4 by offering more space and practicality for less money. Near price parity with equivalently sized petrol and diesel SUVs, the option for over 300 miles of range with the bigger battery and neat, understated style make this the perfect first EV for a family on the move. There’s even a hot vRS version coming, too.
Read the review here or find a Skoda Enyaq for sale on Auto Trader.
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 shares foundations with the VW ID.4 but favours sporty performance over large-SUV space. It will be quick off the line, with Audi’s pared-back, smart interior and easy-to-use infotainment system.
Read more about the Audi Q4 e-tron on Auto Trader.
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. There’s a real buzz around the brand, too, and the Polestar 2 was voted Best Premium Electric Car in the 2021 Auto Trader New Car Awards.
Read the review here.

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 cachet on the school run in 2021.
Read the review here or find a Land Rover Defender for sale on Auto Trader.
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
Bentley Bentayga Hybrid
Mercedes-Benz GLE
Possibly our favourite large SUV of 2021. 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. And if you don’t take our word for it listen to owners, who voted it Best Seven Seater in the 2021 Auto Trader New Car Awards!
Explore the Mercedes GLE Class range on Auto Trader.
Red Mercedes GLE taking a corner in a sunset
Mercedes GLE

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 per cent for adult occupancy protection and 87 per cent 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 they 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.

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