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Family life is an adventure. It can be hectic and exciting in equal measure. That’s why the flexibility of a subscription service can be particularly beneficial to families.
With a subscription service, you’re not tied into a long-term contract. Everything barring fuel (or electricity) comes in one pre-determined monthly payment. Plus, you have the freedom to change your car choice as your family grows or your circumstances change.
Whether you’re making that first trip with a new arrival or ferrying your eldest off to university, there’s a family car to suit every occasion. Here are 5 of our top picks.
Volvo has a wide range of practical and comfortable family SUVs that ooze Scandinavian cool. Frankly, we could have chosen any one of them, but it’s the top of the range XC90 Recharge that arguably showcases the Swedish manufacturer at its best.
The plug-in hybrid system on the XC90 Recharge offers the best of both worlds. It can run on electricity alone – in virtual silence – for up to 31 miles. But the electric motor is also combined with a powerful 2-litre petrol engine. Together, they produce 390hp – enough to catapult the XC90 Recharge from 0-62mph in a sports car-baiting 5.5 seconds.
On a more practical note, all XC90s come with 7 seats as standard, so there’s plenty of room for a growing family. Volvo’s impeccable reputation for safety is another selling point. The XC90 is loaded with driver assistance functions and comes with the top 5-star rating from Euro NCAP.
Two things that can make or break a family car are space and versatility. The Kia Sorento has both in spades. If you need a full 7-seater, this is one of the most spacious SUVs around for those travelling in the third row of seats.
Even with the rearmost seats in use there’s still room in the boot for a pushchair. Fold those down and you get spacious seating for five adults, plus a huge boot that holds more than 600 litres – that’s room for six large suitcases.
The Sorento comes with 4-wheel drive as standard, so it’s great for trips off the beaten track. It also offers two hybrid options – a self-charging hybrid and the plug-in hybrid we’ve picked here that boasts an electric-only range of up to 41 miles.
And now for something slightly different. Not so long ago, estate cars were the default choice for families in search of extra space. These days they’re somewhat overshadowed (literally in some cases) by SUVs, but they still make a lot of sense.
MG has taken this common-sense approach to family motoring and updated it for the electric age. True, you won’t find sports car handling, unparalleled luxury or Tesla-beating performance in this particular EV, but that’s not really the point of cars like this; it’s a pragmatic choice for people who need low running costs, family-friendly practicality and a modicum of comfort.
And at £532 a month via elmo, it’s less than you’d pay for a typical mid-sized hatchback.
The Hyundai Tucson and the closely-related Kia Sportage have long been popular option in the mid-sized family SUV market. For 2022, there’s an all-new Tucson that brings distinctive styling, generous equipment levels and plenty of space inside.
It drives well too. This is not a car to set your pulse racing, certainly not in base spec non-hybrid petrol trim, but it handles neatly, rides smoothly and gets you from one end of the school run to the other as fast as you’ll likely need to travel.
This Premium model comes with an upgraded hifi, wireless phone charging and heated front seats, not to mention a plethora of driver assistance functions like Blind Spot Collision Avoidance and Forward Collision Avoidance. On a more prosaic level, you also get a generous 600 litres of boot space and rear seats that fold in a handy 40/20/40 configuration or recline for extra comfort.
The Peugeot 508 SW is the family car come full circle. At first glance, it’s a resolutely traditional estate car of broadly the type that used to be seen plying the motorways of the UK throughout the 1990s. Except, not only is the thoroughly modern 508 far more stylish than those boxy workhorses of old, it’s also packed with technology.
You can get conventional petrol and diesel options, but the most intriguing 508 is undoubtedly this plug-in hybrid version. Ignore the official fuel economy figures – as with all plug-in hybrids this will depend so much on the type of journey as to be completely irrelevant out of context. But the bottom line is that you can travel up to 39 miles on electricity alone (expect high 20s in the real world) meaning that a lot of people will be able to get away with hardly using the petrol engine at all. This makes it an ideal stepping stone for those who like the idea of running an electric car but also want the convenience of filling up with conventional fuel on longer trips.
There’s also something refreshingly honest about the way it drives. Aside from the more powerful Engineered by Peugeot Sport version, the 508 isn’t really pitched as a driver’s car. Instead, it prioritises comfort and refinement – perfect for long trips away with the family.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and so do family cars. The common factor is space – whether that’s just enough room to swallow a pushchair in something that’s sufficiently small to thread down city streets or a full seven-seater capable of accommodating half the under eights football team. What you need will come down to your own personal requirements.
For many, the choice will be complicated at the moment by the number of engine options available. Petrol and diesel remain the default choices, and despite the negative press that the latter has received lately, it’s still a good call if you do a lot of long distance motorway trips. But alongside that there are now various grades of hybrid, from mild hybrids that gently supplement the conventional engine through to plug-in vehicles capable of travelling a significant distance on electricity alone.
And then, of course, there are electric cars. These tend to be quite space-efficient with their underfloor batteries leaving plenty of room for kids, dogs and all the other things that come along with family life. They’re also inherently relaxing to drive, which can be a real bonus when life gets hectic.
Whatever you go for, a subscription service can help to simplify the process of running and maintaining a car. For busy families, that means more time to concentrate on the things that matter.
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This article was written by our expert car reviewer, Chris Pickering. He has hands-on experience with the latest cars. Read more about his experience.