Best petrol family car

Petrol family cars come in many shapes and sizes. We've rounded up the best family-friendly and wallet-friendly SUVs, hatchbacks and more

Sam Naylor
Feb 8, 2022

It can seem both easy and difficult to find a family car that suits you - and for the same reason. There’s so much choice that there’s certainly a model out there for you, but for the same reason it can be hard to work out exactly what you want.

That’s where we can help. We’ve put together eight of our top picks of petrol-powered family cars, and since we’ve covered all the main types of family car there should be something for everyone here.

Even if you don’t like the specific models we’ve picked out, have a think about which type is going to work for you, and then you can use the search functions on BuyaCar to find similar models that appeal more. For example, you might like the idea of an SUV, but none of the models we've selected jump out at you. Simply go to the BuyaCar cars page and use the filters to search for SUVs in your price range.

Petrol power is what we’re focused on in this article. With car buyers shifting away from diesel in recent years, more people are looking to choose the quieter, smoother petrol versions of family cars. Thankfully, there's plenty of choice in terms of petrol models.

We’ve made sure to pick out models that are well-suited to petrol power, and have engines that perform well, are fuel-efficient and stay quiet in normal driving. The huge range of choice of family cars means that there’s a great petrol choice out there no matter what kind of car you need.

Read on to find out our eight best petrol family cars and to narrow down which version is right for you.

Best petrol cars for families

1. Volkswagen Golf

Best for all-round ability

Our pick Volkswagen Golf 1.0 eTSI
Used deals from £20,898
Monthly finance from £311*

The Volkswagen Golf is the ultimate family car if you’re not sure what you need - because it does everything really well, so you’ll never feel left out. The Golf has been a staple family car since the 1970s, and there is one to suit pretty much every budget, but we’ve gone for a recent model that’s only a couple of years old.

The 1.0-litre petrol engine might sound small, but because it’s turbocharged there’s plenty of performance, and you get fuel-saving benefits as well. The Golf is good to drive, comfortable and the engine is nice and quiet on the motorway. The eTSI version also benefits from mild hybrid technology that helps reduce emissions further.

There’s enough room for the family inside, with plenty of rear leg and headroom and a useful hatchback boot with lots of luggage space. The technology onboard is excellent, and sat-nav is included on most models as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. As a practical family car for those who don't need something enormous, it's an excellent choice.


2. BMW 3 Series

Best for driving

BMW 3 Series front three quarters view

Our pick BMW 320i
Used deals from £27,390
Monthly finance from £432*

The BMW 3 Series is a great family car for someone who loves driving. It’s one of the best-driving cars on the road that isn‘t an all-out sports car, and while the manic high-performance M3 model is popular with driving enthusiasts, the more affordable 320i model is nearly as enjoyable to drive.

The engine is smooth and quiet, and performance is good too. If you want a quicker car, the 2.0-litre 330i should fit the bill but don't expect it to be as efficient. The BMW has a great driving position and is smooth even on bumpy roads, so you can feel confident behind the wheel.

Best of all, there’s all the modern kit you could want included, and there’s plenty of room in the back seats for kids and adults alike. The boot is big, and even if a saloon isn’t practical enough for you then there’s an estate version too called the 3 Series Touring.


3. Skoda Karoq

Best for practicality

Our pick Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI
Used deals from £14,695
Monthly finance from £213*

If you want an SUV as your next family car then the Skoda Karoq is our pick as the best medium-size option. It’s one of the most practical cars of its type, with masses of room for passengers and a spacious boot that’s easy to access through the large hatchback boot door.

The Karoq has lots of modern tech including sat-nav on SE L versions, plus smartphone connectivity on the large media screen on the dashboard. The Karoq is easy to drive, with light controls that are well placed and a comfy driving position.

The 1.5-litre petrol engine available in the Karoq is excellent. It’s quiet and returns good fuel economy, yet is punchy from low engine speeds and stays nice and quiet. The manual gearbox it comes with is slick and pleasant to use, as well.


4. Mazda 6

Best for long trips

Our pick Mazda 6 2.0 Skyactiv-G
Used deals from £8,999
Monthly finance from £171*

If you need a family car for taking on long holiday trips, consider a Mazda 6. The Tourer estate model has more room, but there’s also the roomy saloon that’s an even more stylish option.

It’s really spacious inside, with enough room for four adults to get comfortable, and the boot is huge as well. More importantly, the Mazda 6 is impressively comfortable no matter what kind of road you’re on. It excels at motorway trips, though, where it’s smooth and quiet.

The 2.0-litre engine is efficient on the motorway, and the Mazda 6 is also really good to drive, especially in manual form. It doesn’t have the best media system - it’s a bit slow to respond - but it has sat-nav and it will do the job for most drivers. The Mazda is great value as a used car if you choose a model that’s a few years old, too.


5. Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer

Best for people carrying

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer 1.2 PureTech 130
Used deals from £14,700
Monthly finance from £288*

The Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer (earlier models are called the Grand C4 Picasso) is our pick as the best seven-seater people carrier. If you have a large family, these kinds of car are really useful, as everyone can travel together in comfort.

Even the rearmost seats are spacious enough for kids to get settled, and they can be folded away to increase boot space. The second row is roomy even for adults, and even the front seats feel very capacious due to the airy cabin design.

The Citroen’s 1.2-litre petrol engine is powerful enough and returns good fuel economy, but it’s the comfort that really appeals about the C4 SpaceTourer. It’s very soft, so potholes and bumpy roads - so often found in the UK - are no trouble for the Citroen.


6. Porsche Macan

Best for luxury

Our pick Porsche Macan 3.0 V6
Used deals from £36,244
Monthly finance from £632*

If you have a budget of around £30,000, you could go out and buy a brand new, ordinary family SUV. However, you could use that money to buy something rather special instead and much larger - like a Porsche Macan, for example.

The Macan is a luxury car, with a high-quality feel, incredible performance from the 3.0-litre petrol engine and an excellent mix of comfort and fun when behind the wheel. Yet it’s also practical enough to work as a family car, as there’s a big boot and good passenger space inside.

It’s not the most economical choice, nor is it the best value, but the Macan has all the key family car ingredients as well as lots of upmarket appeal, so could be a tempting option instead of a newer, less interesting model.


7. Dacia Duster

Best for low budgets

Our pick Dacia Duster 1.0 TCe
Used deals from £9,999
Monthly finance from £150*

While some motorists like the idea of a glamorous car on their driveway, others relish getting something that’s just really good value. That’s where the Dacia Duster comes in - it’s one of the cheapest SUVs you can get, yet it’s still a top family car, so value for money is its biggest selling point.

The Duster is basic, with a relatively sparse interior using hard-wearing materials, but that has some charm in itself. The great news is that it’s roomy, so the family can get comfortable inside and there’s a huge boot for bikes, buggies or bags.

It’s been available with an excellent 1.3-litre petrol engine for a short time, so try to get a relatively recent model with this motor. It’s very quiet, provides plenty of power and is economical, so it’s an excellent petrol family car in this form. The lesser-powered 1.0-litre engine will be more efficient, and should prove sufficient for most people who live around town.


8. Ford Focus Estate

Best for carrying luggage

Our pick Ford Focus Estate 1.0 EcoBoost
Used deals from £14,700
Monthly finance from £245*

If you need an affordable family car that has a really big boot, whether that’s for luggage, dogs or anything else, then consider a Ford Focus Estate. The Focus is a huge seller in the UK, so there are loads for sale at any one time, and it’s a great car at a very affordable price.

The Focus is fun to drive, so it has some appeal for keen drivers, yet it’s also comfortable and roomy inside. The estate version has a long luggage area that’s easy to access, so it’s a practical choice as well.

It’s available with Ford’s excellent 1.0-litre 'EcoBoost' petrol engine, which is one of the best of its type. It brings decent performance thanks to the turbocharger, yet the small capacity means it’s also efficient and cheap to run. It’s quiet and fun to drive as well, so it’s a great all-rounder.


*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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