When you’re investing in a car for your family there are many factors to take into account beyond the list price – your annual running costs; the mileage; the amount of space inside, but there is always one overriding consideration for parents and that is safety.
We will happily take a car that isn’t all that flash, or doesn’t get away from the lights quite as fast if we can be confident the kids are well protected in the event of an accident. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of some of the best family cars available that you can pick up for below £10,000 in the used vehicle market. The following six vehicles were sourced after researching prices as listed on Auto Trader in August 2015.
Mazda 6 Hatchback
Professional Mazda dealers such as T W White & Sons will always emphasize the safety features of the hatchback. Look for front and rear airbags, emergency braking assist, 4-wheel ABS, a whiplash prevention system. Beyond that, you can expect a very roomy interior, with around 1700 litres of storage, so you can easily fit in multiple pieces of luggage, as well as muddy welly boots, board games and devices. The Mazda looks good on the road, and feels even better behind the wheel. You can even get an emergency interior trunk release, just in case the kids’ game of hide and seek gets a bit out of hand.
For years now the name Volvo has been synonymous with practicality and safety, and the XC90 is certainly no exception to the rule. A few years ago Volvo pledged to create an “injury-proof” car by 2020 and while whether they can meet that goal remains to be seen, the XC90 shows they are moving in the right direction with many innovative safety features. They may not look especially stylish, but for the school run or a family road-trip you’d struggle to do better.
Skoda Superb Estate
Remember when we used to joke about Skoda? Those days are long past. The Skoda Superb puts rivals, even some far more expensive vehicles, in the shade. Versatile, luxurious, and fun to drive, it is just ideal for families. Plenty of boot space, safety features ranging from Electronic Stability Control to knee-protecting airbags for the driver, it also has a sterling reputation for reliability so unexpected breakdowns on the motorway are very rare. Insurance is often very reasonable too.
The Insignia represents insanely good value for money. It has a stylish interior, packed with extra features that have clearly had a lot of thought put into it – no rush jobs here. And while it’s not especially roomy, it’s a very smooth and calm drive. Also bear in mind, low emissions and a decent MPG means your running costs are going to be low. For additional safety, look for a 4WD version.
Ford Mondeo Estate
If boot space is a priority for you then the Ford Mondeo Estate is definitely worth a serious look. On peering into the rear storage you might be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered into another showroom, so spacious is it. The rear seats can be configured for comfort and even more room, and certain models come with a lot of useful kit, from MP3 slots to climate control for a relaxed, stress-free journey. It’s so comfortable, in fact, that you may find the kids falling asleep during the school run!
At the higher end of the scale, you may struggle to find a BMW X1 for under £10,000 but if you put the research in you can sometimes get lucky – do expect close to six figures on the clock though. Relatively compact yet with a convenient raised driving position and bags of space, the X1 is good for families wanting style, power, and SUV quality without the problems of SUV-sized vehicles, such as finding a parking space. Diesel models can be very economical to run too for a BMW.
We’re lucky in that there’s a huge amount of choice for good family-cars right now to meet any budget. One further recommendation – when you take your test drive, bring the kids along too, to ensure they feel comfortable. Any good dealer should be happy to let you install your car seats for an hour.