Best cars for small families

Here is the proof that you don't need to drive an SUV if you've got small children. A small estate car, or even a coupe will be sufficient

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Jan 6, 2022

Are you expecting or already have a couple of children to take into consideration? It’s not just the children you need to consider, but also all the equipment needed to take care of them; car seats, pushchairs, you name it - you’ll need a car that can accommodate it all.

A bulky SUV might be the first thing that springs to mind. They can make a lot of sense, but they aren’t necessarily the best cars for a small family. If you’re not sold on the SUV trend like everyone else, there are smaller alternatives that are easier to drive, park and run.

If you’re looking for something that will accommodate your partner and children, we’ve put together a list of eight of the best used small family cars we think tick all the boxes. These cars offer great boot space and practicality for an affordable price - and can be even more accessible with PCP finance.

If your kids are starting to grow up and you feel like planning for the future, you could always check out our best cars for large families for something a bit more spacious.

Best cars for small families

1. Skoda Fabia Estate

Used deals from £7,500
Monthly finance from £0*

The Skoda Fabia Estate is like the Tardis from Doctor Who. No, it doesn’t travel to faraway galaxies or back in time, but it is far bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside.

Its 530-litre boot is large enough for a buggy, a travel cot and a few suitcases, but because the Fabia Estate is only 265mm longer than the hatchback, it’s just as easy to drive and park.

We’d avoid the entry-level S, because it’s a bit low on kit, but SE trim features air-conditioning, a 6.5-inch touchscreen media system, 15-inch alloy wheels and rear parking sensors. Other models offer even more equipment, while a panoramic sunroof and a variable-height boot floor are two options you won’t find on the hatchback.


2. Nissan Note

Used deals from £4,790
Monthly finance from £0*

Although it’s no longer possible to buy a new Nissan Note, there’s plenty of choice with used models on the BuyaCar website. With prices well under £10,000, you won’t find a more practical supermini for less money.

If you’re not won over by the slightly drab exterior, fear not, because behind the bland mask likes a car with hidden talents. The Note is slightly longer than a Ford Fiesta, but there’s enough room inside for a family of four, with space that would shame a car from the class above.

The tall stance means you won’t bang your head when you’re loading a car seat - don’t worry, we’ve all done it - while the rear seats slide backwards or forwards depending on whether you want more rear legroom or a bigger boot. Think of the Nissan Note as the extra-large jumper you’ll buy for your child to grow into.


3. Skoda Kamiq

Used deals from £16,590
Monthly finance from £275*

Wait, what? Another Skoda? Well, yes, and to be honest, we could have filled this entire feature with cars wearing a Skoda badge. It’s like the company is in tune with the needs of families. We could say that Skoda is your Czech mate, but we won’t.

Even the entry-level Kamiq S model features air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 6.5-inch touchscreen media system, a digital radio and Isofix points for the outer back seats allowing you to safely mount child seats. There’s no real reason to upgrade to a higher trim level if you're strapped for cash, although some of the features on the more expensive versions might be desirable for just a small monthly payment increase over the course of a four-year PCP finance deal.

For example, an electrically operated boot is a £400 option on the SE, SE L and Monte Carlo models. Having this could make things easier when your hands are full of baby paraphernalia. You can also add folding tables and leatherette protection to the back of the front seats. These are separate options, but the link is obvious. Have you ever tried to remove chocolate milkshake from a car seat?


4. Honda HR-V

Used deals from £10,600
Monthly finance from £0*

The Honda HR-V is like that really talented child at school who doesn’t get the recognition they deserve. Remember that point about not needing a larger car for a while? The HR-V is a good case in point.

Although it might be difficult to picture the space provided by a 470-litre boot, the point is rammed home by the fact that this is 18 litres more than you’ll find in the Nissan Qashqai - a larger car from the class above.

This luggage capacity doesn’t come at the expense of rear space, with the back seats offering plenty of room for your little ones. You could buy the 1.6-litre diesel to enjoy the impressive fuel economy and relaxed performance. However, if you’re feeling a bit rebellious, the 1.5-litre petrol in the Sport version offers a substantial 182hp. It’s the HR-V for chasing down hot hatchbacks (when the kids aren’t in the car, obviously).


5. Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Used deals from £20,980
Monthly finance from £0*

We understand why you’d fancy a Mercedes A-Class. It has the right badge on the grille, it’s well-built and it boasts one of the nicest interiors in its class. But to use some Chris Tarrant wisdom, we don’t want to give you that. Instead, have you considered the B-Class?

It’s a taller and more practical version of the A-Class, with the same clever tech and more interior space. There’s loads of headroom for you in the front, while the high roof will make it easier to strap your children into their car seats. You can even add a pair of 10-inch widescreen displays to create one of the most eye-catching dashboards on the planet. Buy new and you'll have to pay extra for these, but hunt down a used version with them and they should cost you barely anything extra.

You also get MBUX, which stands for Mercedes-Benz User Experience. This is a clever voice activation system for programming kit like the sat-nav, activated by the keywords 'Hey Mercedes', and it works in a similar way to Siri or Alexa. If you tell it you’re cold, it’ll adjust the temperature. We do wonder what happens if the kids shout out 'Are we nearly there yet?', though.


6. Volkswagen Touran

Used deals from £8,495
Monthly finance from £0*

We’re not going to lie - the Touran is arguably the least exciting Volkswagen you can buy. It’s the beige slippers of the range. But just as there will be occasions when you appreciate the easy comfort of the slippers, there will be times when you appreciate the practicality of the Volkswagen Touran.

It’s one of the most popular small people carriers in Europe, so if it’s good enough for the Schmidts in Germany and the Garcias in Spain, it’s good enough for the Joneses. Thanks to its high roofline, there’s plenty of headroom throughout the car, plus loads of legroom in the front and back.

There’s also a third row of seats, which are great for children but less suited to adults. With all seven seats in use, there’s very little luggage space, but at least you have the option to carry more people. You can also task your children with finding all 37 storage cubbies hidden throughout the cabin if they get restless on a road trip.


7. Suzuki Baleno

Used deals from £8,250
Monthly finance from £0*

The Suzuki Baleno is our first wildcard. It was on sale for just three years, and because of its rather anonymous styling, you’d be forgiven for hardly noticing it. 

It’s best to think of it as a plus-size supermini, with a larger boot than you’ll find in the Ford Focus. The rear doors open wide to make it easier to load your children into their car seats, and there’s some additional storage space beneath the boot floor.

The SZ-T and SZ-5 models offer a generous level of equipment, while the 1.0-litre Boosterjet petrol engine gives the Baleno a surprising turn of pace. It’s also rather efficient, with the potential to deliver over 60mpg. Throw into the mix Suzuki’s reputation for reliability and you’ll see why we’ve included the Baleno on our list of cars for small families.


8. BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

Used deals from £14,790
Monthly finance from £294*

Our second wildcard is the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. If you thought you couldn’t afford a BMW, think again, because PCP finance deals start at less than £200 per month. Not bad for a car that cost £35,000 to £50,000 when new.

We won’t get into the debate about whether or not it’s a true 'coupe' - since coupes are sleek and traditionally have two doors, not four plus a hatchback - not least because you probably don’t care. What matters is that the huge tailgate creates a large opening to the boot, which makes loading and unloading a pushchair a doddle. And - in our eyes at least - it looks damn good.

Despite the sloping roofline, there’s plenty of headroom in the back, and the seats split three ways to improve the flexibility - depending on how much luggage/people you're carting around.

We’ve included the 4 Series Gran Coupe to highlight the fact that you don’t need to buy an SUV when you have small children; why fly economy when you can travel premium class? Nobody needs to know that you pay just £200 per month for the privilege.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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