2016 Ford S-Max - £16,950/£246 per month
This is the people-mover for when ‘fun’ still features on your car-buying priority list, even if it’s had to slip down a few rungs as kids and their paraphernalia have slowly infiltrated every room of your house. Ford has long known how to make a car steer brilliantly, and even the S-Max and Galaxy MPVs didn’t escape its magic handling wand. Both offer seven-seat layouts, but the more svelte S-Max is best if you want something that looks a little neater and drives a touch sweeter. It’s also common to find one specced with a manual gearbox – y’know, like the hot hatchback you used to own.Advertisement - Page continues below
2017 Audi RS6 Performance Avant - £50,800/£688 per month
Really unwilling to let go of having something quick on your drive? Well, so long as a third row of seats doesn’t matter, then this is the peak of family-friendly performance cars. The RS6 is as burly as fast estate cars get, all while offering a convincing lap of luxury inside, with this generation of RS6 neatly melding modern tech with analogue dials and traditional switchgear. The best of both worlds, basically, which neatly summarises the car’s whole persona. Loads of room for the kids yet almost 600bhp and 0-62mph in less than four seconds. And available for basically half its original price tag.
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe - £26,550/£407 per month
Our feet are firmly back on the ground for this one. SUVs are what most families plump for nowadays; clearly, a higher driving position and larger doors are hard to resist, and there are abundant seven-seat 4x4 options available from Audi, Land Rover and even Bentley. But assuming you want interior room to only be surpassed by warranty length, a Santa Fe is an especially strong choice. And nowadays it’s even quite striking on the outside, while being pleasingly premium on the inside.Advertisement - Page continues below
2019 Subaru Forester – £25,450/£396 per month
attributes – and something you probably didn’t once consider before the kids came along. But we wouldn’t blame you for shoving it right to the top of your car’s ‘must-do’ list. Few do it better than a Subaru Forester right now, a car with extremely strong Euro NCAP crash test results and a wealth of active safety systems on board. You might know Subaru best from mud-splattered sideways rally cars, but it’s so much more grown-up than that nowadays. As, perhaps, are you…
2018 Kia Soul EV – £18,950/£320 per month
Perhaps you live in an urban environment and just need to shuttle a couple of kids between school, mates’ birthday parties and their various clubs in safety and relative silence. In which case a modestly sized, electrically powered people carrier is probably just what you need. The Kia Soul looks the weeniest bit off the pace in bald stats, the beauty of EVs being that they’re developing at lightning pace. But around 100 miles per charge will prove more than enough if you don’t need to head out of town, and no new EV gets close to this sort of money.
2019 Mercedes V-Class £51,300/£830 per month
Alright, it’s even pricier than that RS6. But eight-seat MPVs get no fancier than a V-Class. So if you simply can’t skimp on luxury – and your family is somewhat large, or your kids’ roster of sports fixtures barely possible to keep up with – then this glossy white Merc is a deeply appealing solution. ‘Van with windows’ is simultaneously honest and misleading; vans drive chuffing well these days, and the big V’s refinement levels may well surprise you. And when you aren’t filling those full-size rear seats, it really will play the role of commercial vehicle when a tip run or house move looms.
2016 Citroen C4 Grand Picasso - £13,800/£217 per month
A good portion of modern life seems to involve nostalgia. So if your idea of a real World Cup was Italia ’90 or France ’98 and the term ‘popular music’ means Blur versus Oasis battling for number one, then you need to cart your kids around in one of these. Because you’re clearly harking for the Nineties, when people carriers were fast becoming all the rage. You’ll have no doubt shed a tear or two when Citroen recently called time on the big C4’s career, but it’s not too late to get a well-looked-after example with modest miles. And for not a lot of money, either.Advertisement - Page continues below
2017 Volvo V90 - £24,950/£344 per month
If your nostalgia is nestled another decade earlier, then you probably want a big Volvo estate car. The V90 is vast in size but, as a product of the modern Swedish car industry, it’s not simply been designed with a ruler, set-square and ‘must swallow all the things’ attitude. There’s style here. The examples for sale have all manner of sporty specs on offer – big wheels, black trim, etc – but don’t forget there’s also the familiar Volvo option of off-beige paint and a wood-lined interior. There isn’t a more zen interior on this list. Perfect for keeping the kids’ and your chakras aligned.
2017 Dacia Logan MCV - £8250/£119 per month
Yes, there’s a cost-of-living crisis and bills are soaring. But the mighty Dacia Logan is here to provide a glimmer of good news. Chiefly, that you may not have to sacrifice too many of your criteria if you’re in urgent need of a new family wagon despite prices spiralling all around us. While the Logan may appear to be merely a stretched Sandero, its boot space equals the Volvo V90 above – seats up or down – and the Laureate spec of this one still brings sat-nav, air-con, parking sensors, a digital radio and cruise control.Advertisement - Page continues below
2018 BMW 220i Gran Tourer - £22,100/£347 per month
And finally, a ‘best of all worlds’ solution. You want a premium badge and a wealth of equipment and tech? It’s here. Seven seats but in a shape that actually looks desirable at the same time? Well, the Gran Tourer achieves that, especially in this M Sport trim. All while being fun to drive and the option of pairing a powerful 2.0-litre petrol engine with a slick twin-clutch gearbox for near-hot hatch acceleration. BMW aficionados may have worked up a sweat when it was announced, but the uncomfortable truth (for them, at least) is that this may actually be the most accomplished all-rounder the brand has made in the last decade.