03/06/2013 15:45

Best small family cars to buy

Our guide to the pick of the best small family cars to suit all budgets

Kia Cee'd (© Kia)

Budget buy: Kia Cee'd - £13,500-£23,595

Kia builds on the virtues of its previous Cee'd success with a new all-rounder that scores many plus points.

We like: quality feel to the interior, comfortable seats, lack of noise, long warranty
We don't like: performance a little dull, Kia prices are creeping up

Read a Kia Cee'd review
Buy a Kia Cee'd on Auto Trader

Ford Focus (© Ford)

Affordable buy: Ford Focus - £13,995-£25,650

Ford turns up the refinement and the technology with its third generation Focus, but at a cost...

We like: big-car technology, comfort, safety
We don't like: steering feel and handling, limited rear legroom, pricing

Read a Ford Focus review
Buy a Ford Focus on Auto Trader
A guide to the best used Fords


Volkswagen Golf (© VW)

Premium buy: Volkswagen Golf - £15,865-£33,390

Latest Golf puts the frighteners on the competition with a renewed emphasis on quality, refinement and clean, efficient engines.

We like: clever and refined engines, quality, ride and handling, technology
We don't like: conservative looks, sober interior, limited diesel options, expensive extras

Read a Volkswagen Golf review
Buy a Volkswagen Golf on Auto Trader
A guide to the best used Volkswagens

Also consider
Skoda Octavia
- cheaper than a Golf, just as capable
Vauxhall Astra - stylish hatchback but doesn't drive as well as rivals
Hyundai i30 - cheap and brilliant alternative to the mainstream players
Alfa Romeo Giulietta - the family hatch that majors on style
Ford B-Max - Fun to drive and "easy access" doors

Used cars

Toyota Corolla Verso (© Toyota)

0-£3k: Toyota Corolla Verso

You don't need a car the size of a tour bus to move the kids around. Compact MPVs can accommodate everything required for a family jaunt to the South of France. Corolla Verso comes with reliability as standard and sits on top in this price range.

We like: three car seats go in the back easily enough. Seven seats available but will cost a bit more, and you'll need a roof box. D4D engine is terrific.

We don't like: small kids can't see past the high window line: a modern design feature that gets the thumbs down, though it does add to safety.

Buy a Toyota Corolla Verso on Auto Trader

Honda CR-V (© Honda)

£3k-£8K: Honda CR-V

Honda's Civic-based compact 4x4 is reliable family transport. Snow and slush no match for the CR-V's accomplished yet simple all-wheel drive system. Auto-engaging hydraulic operation means no extra levers in the cabin. Solidly built and OK to look at.

We like: made in Swindon! Elevated driving position with dashboard gearshift helps relax the driver. Bulletproof reliability when properly maintained, and plenty of interior space despite the Civic base chassis. Leather and factory sat nav on Executive models.

We don't like: all models can be a bit juicy but size, 4wd and reliability more than compensate. Paint a bit thin so expect stone chips. Works best on decent rubber: price accordingly if shod with budgets or worn originals.

Buy a Honda CR-V on Auto Trader

Ford Focus (© Ford)

£8k+: Ford Focus

New Focus an amazing car: so far removed from Fords of old. Styling is sharp but not at the expense of practicality. Build quality feels impeccable: a bona fide prestige hatch.

We like: great lights and huge mirrors make it easy to drive, day or night. Ventilation is excellent: a beautiful cabin environment. Very upmarket feel throughout: Lexus drivers you may one day carry as passengers will feel cheated.

We don't like: comprehensive dash takes a few drives to get used to, so much information is available. Slightly heavier chassis dulls classic Focus zing but the overall package is worth the sacrifice.

Buy a Ford Focus on Auto Trader

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