Buying a used family car

Choosing a used car for your family takes careful consideration. You’ll need to think about where you’ll be going and what you’ll be using it for, as well as how long you intend to keep it. Are your children toddlers or teenagers? Will you need space for football kits and ballet gear? Our brief guide gives you some things to look for to help you find the perfect used family car.

Type of vehicle

Here’s where you need to consider the age of your kids and how much space you’ll need. If your children are young, you’ll get away with a practical hatchback or saloon that has plenty of boot room for pushchairs or other equipment. If your kids are older, you may find that an MPV is the best option. MPVs offer lots of interior space and are often flexible in terms of seating, allowing you to create more boot space if necessary.


One of the primary considerations for a used family vehicle is safety. Find out what the Euro NCAP ratings are for each of your choices and check in detail what they offer. Many models have comprehensive airbag protection as well as things like stability control. The best family cars also have ISOFIX mounting points to keep young children safe in their car seats.


How accessible are the models you’ve shortlisted? Cars with wide opening doors are more practical, especially if you need to get younger children in and out of car seats. They’re also handy if you need to transport elderly parents regularly. Some cars have sliding rear doors, which are ideal for family use – they’re easy to open in small parking spaces and allow convenient access for kids of all ages.

Flexible seating

Many cars aimed at families now have flexible rear seating that enables you to configure the interior to your needs. Seats can slide, fold and even be removed completely to create the necessary space for any particular journey. This is especially useful if you drive abroad on holiday or frequently shuttle your kids and their friends to and from sports practise.

In-car entertainment

Some models have a host of options to keep the kids entertained on longer journeys. In-car DVD players are great for keeping them occupied, and many cars now have MP3 compatibility. If you don’t want a vehicle with a DVD player built in, you can simply choose one with a couple of 12v power sockets and buy a separate DVD system.

Optional extras

There are other things you can look for to make your used family car the perfect choice. Leather upholstery, for example, is easy to wipe clean and darker colours show up the spills less. You may also want to consider tinted rear windows – they filter out UV light and also hide belongings that may be left on seats from prying eyes.