Cheap family cars 2024
Keeping the family happy can be expensive, so why spend more than you need to on a new car? It makes sense to buy something affordable that's also cheap to run, leaving you with more money to spend on family holidays and days out.
Fortunately, there's never been a better range of family cars to choose from. Thanks to efficient engines, you won't be spending every spare minute filling up with fuel, and neat styling means your kids won't be embarrassed when you collect them from school. They'll be even happier when they discover they can sync their smartphones to the infotainment system, although this means you'll have to listen to their playlists.
Cheap family cars
The Dacia Jogger is an ingenious family-focused car: a cross between a small estate and a rugged SUV. It has generous ground clearance, chunky body styling and ingenious roof rails that are ready and waiting for a roof box to swallow anything you can’t squeeze into the boot. Brilliantly, it also comes with seven seats as standard, with the third row being easily removable to create an ultra-capacious five-seater. With a smooth turbocharged petrol engine, it has just enough power and excellent fuel economy, but the best bit is the price. It starts from around £18,000, and even the lavish range-topper costs thousands less than many entry-level family hatchbacks. For budget-conscious families, it’s a brilliant choice.
The Skoda Scala is the Czech firm’s value-priced model, positioned in-between the smaller Fabia and larger Octavia. Prices start from around £23,000, for which you get a well-equipped car with touchscreen infotainment, alloy wheels, air conditioning and LED headlights as standard. Despite measuring under 4.4 metres long, the Scala has an enormous 467-litre boot, plus a good amount of room in the rear for three passengers. There’s loads of stowage space inside and we love the folding tables on the backs of the front seats. The all-petrol engine range comprises fuel-efficient 1.0-litre TSI motors, plus a 1.5-litre TSI for those who want more power. Reaching 62mph in just over eight seconds, it’s surprisingly good fun.
The Dacia Duster is the larger, SUV-shaped sibling to the Jogger estate. It’s proved very popular with budget-conscious buyers who want a fashionable, 4x4-style machine. The Duster has rugged styling, plenty of ground clearance and a high-up seating position. It’s also roomy inside, with ample space in the rear and a vast 475-litre boot: almost 100 litres larger than comparable family hatchbacks. Fold the rear seats and it expands to well over 1600 litres – perfect for weekend trips to the tip. Economical turbo petrol engines deliver good power, and those who want better economy can choose a diesel. An interesting alternative is the Bi-Fuel LPG option for petrol models, for those with easy access to the half-price fuel. There’s also a four-wheel-drive version.
The i30 is Hyundai’s good-value alternative to the Volkswagen Golf. Prices are more competitive than the German car, but buyers aren’t short-changed in areas such as performance. Even the entry-level turbo petrol engine offers 120PS, while there’s a 159PS alternative for a few thousand pounds more – plus the fiery 250PS i30 N hot hatchback. Generous standard equipment is a feature of all i30s, and we think the sporty-looking but well-priced N-Line trim is the sweet-spot. All versions have comfortable interiors, sophisticated road manners and the long-term reassurance of Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty. For those who cover thousands of miles on family getaways, it’s a safe and affordable bet.
The Kia Ceed five-door hatchback offers tremendous value for money and features the Korean company’s distinctive logo, plus a sharp and distinctive front end with eye-catching LED running lights. Every new Ceed also has an 8.0-inch touchscreen, alloy wheels, air conditioning and a reversing camera. More expensive variants come with a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen that connects with the Kia Connect UVO smartphone app. Economical petrol engines include mild hybrid options, which provide a small performance boost while also reducing CO2 emissions. Kia offers its comprehensive seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty as standard, too.
MG 5 EV
The MG 5 EV is an interesting choice. Not only a five-door estate car, it’s also a pure electric model – and arguably one of the few available at an affordable price. Being an EV doesn’t compromise practicality: load the MG’s boot to the roof and you can squeeze in almost 600 litres, which expands to 1456 litres with the rear seats folded. The five seats provide family-friendly space and equipment is good, with even the entry-level Excite featuring MG Pilot adaptive cruise control and a rear parking camera. A 156PS electric motor delivers 0-62mph in just 7.3 seconds and the Long Range battery has a 250-mile range. It can be rapid-charged to 80% capacity in around an hour.
The Citroen C4 is a distinctive new high-riding family hatchback from the comfort-oriented French firm. For families looking for a relaxing, smooth-riding car, it’s certainly worth a look. Special ‘Citroen Advanced Comfort’ seats are plush to sit in and the suspension has hydraulic cushions to take the edge off bumps. Noise levels are low, engines are efficient and there’s a pure electric e-C4 option for those ready to embrace battery power. Citroen includes a full suite of safety assistance systems, while the front-seat passenger can enjoy an ingenious tablet holder built into the dashboard. Great for helping long trips pass by smoothly while the kids squabble in the back...
We make no apologies for having so many Dacias listed on this page, because the Romanian brand’s cars are just so good at keeping the costs down. The current Dacia Sandero is no exception. It’s one of the cheapest new cars you can get, and you’ll struggle to find anything that gives you more space for the money (although it is the smallest car on this list – if you need something larger, check out the Dacia Duster or Jogger). This is great value motoring at its best, and the Sandero is well-equipped and comfortable enough that you won’t wish you’d splashed out on something more upmarket.
Kia Ceed Sportswagon
Prepare your boxes for ticking, because the estate version of the Kia Ceed covers just about everything off. Spacious? With a 625-litre boot, that’s a big tick. Comfortable and easy to drive? Tick. Remarkably affordable considering how much equipment is included? Tick, and there are some very good finance deals available on it, too. Industry-leading seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty? Big tick with added piece of mind. Oh, and it’s nice inside, with a very decent infotainment system, too.
The SsangYong Tivoli is a practical small SUV with prices that start from around £20,000. It offers headline-grabbing value for money, particularly as owners don’t have to suffer with a basic specification. The entry-level engine is a punchy turbocharged petrol motor, and every Tivoli comes with air conditioning, all-round electric windows and alloy wheels. Even the top-spec Ultimate Nav model comes in at less than £25,000, while every SsangYong comes with a seven-year warranty, which is valid for an incredible 150,000 miles. That means plenty of long-term assurance, even if you drive 20,000 miles a year or more.
What is a good car for a family of four?
If you are a family of four, you may not regularly need the practicality of seven seats – but they’re still nice to have if your children each want to bring a friend along for a day out. All the cars on this list will do a decent job, but the Dacia Jogger is a compromise-free seven-seater that also works really well as a five-seater, giving plenty of space for two people front and rear, plus acres of room for all the essentials families bring for the journey. It offers great-value prices, too – hence its inclusion on our list.
What is the cheapest family car?
There is currently strong competition for the title of ‘cheapest family car’. The Dacia Sandero is the winner, at less than £14,000, but those with older children may want more space, in which case the Dacia Duster and Jogger are close behind at around £20,000. The SsangYong Tivoli is another great option at just over £20,000.
Can you buy a cheap electric family car?
Electric car prices are coming down all the time, and are edging closer to the cheap family car sector. The MG 5 EV is a great example of this. It has a decent 250-mile range and a good amount of standard equipment, yet it’s available for similar to what you’d pay for a mid-range Ford Focus. There is also a pure electric e-C4 version of the Citroen C4, and we expect more affordable EVs to arrive in the coming years.