Since the arrival of COVID-19 in March 2020, all our lives changed in some way, shape or form. For all the parents out there, normal routines and working hours were replaced with full-time child care and home-schooling (some of us are still traumatised by the experience).
But with schools now open, many of us are celebrating a chance to get back into a more ‘normal’ routine. The downside is this probably means spending more time in our cars rushing out for the school run, and fighting against the usual traffic. So, perhaps now is a good time to consider a change of wheels, to make the journey a little less painful?
In this article, we’ve collated a list of five affordable family cars - ideal for the school run, so you can transport your family comfortably and safely, without breaking the bank.
First up, the Nissan Qashqai. Since sparking the SUV trend in 2007, the Qashqai has become one of the UK’s best-selling cars and a superb choice for families looking for something stylish, comfortable, and affordable.
From the outside, the Qashqai certainly looks appealing with its bold, sleek curves and signature narrow LED headlights. Inside, there’s plenty of space to get comfy as all Qashqai’s have a height-adjustable driver’s seat as standard. Even the rear seats can easily accommodate three adults - so, you certainly won’t need to worry about your little ones jostling for space! And whilst the interior may not match the sophistication of its more premium rivals, the soft-touch plastics and squidgy surfaces feel far from cheap.
Unlike some alternatives, the Qashqai offers a wide range of standard driver conveniences and safety features, including cruise control, dual-zone climate control, lane departure warning system, rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, hill start assist, and high beam assist. The entry-level Visia also has a basic infotainment system, but if you want the touch-screen version accompanied by a built-in sat-nav and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring, you’ll need to upgrade to the Acenta Premium.
If you’re on a tighter budget, the Dacia Duster may be the ideal solution. Starting at just £11,245 brand new, you can bag yourself a 1-2-year-old Duster for as little as £7,500. With a roomy cabin and decent sized boot for all your family days out, the Duster is extremely practical and reliable, if a little basic.
The entry-level Access model has no radio or air conditioning, however, things begin to get more interesting once you move into the mid-range models. For example, the Duster Comfort comes equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, built-in sat-nav, cruise control, extra supportive front seats, and additional chrome trims on the doors.
Despite being one of the cheapest SUVs on the market, the Duster handles surprisingly well, with light steering and comfortable suspension. And with it’s raised driving position and large windows, you get a great view of the road ahead.
When it comes to engine choice, the 1.3-litre 130hp turbo-petrol is by far the most efficient for driving around town, offering better mpg than the 1.6-litre. However, regular motorway drivers may want to consider the 1.5-litre diesel, as this will provide better fuel efficiency over longer journeys.
For larger families, the Skoda Kodiaq is a great choice. With seven seats available, the Kodiaq is super spacious and comfortable. If needed, the two rearmost seats can also flip-down to provide additional boot-space. But even with all seven seats in use, the boot is large enough to accommodate a weekly food shop.
Its roomy cabin is well designed, with a simple, easy-to-operate dashboard featuring high-quality plastics and a glossy, black wood-effect trim. With the basic S model, you get DAB radio, automatic emergency braking, and keyless entry. However, the SE is much better equipped, offering cruise control, a rearview camera with full LED rear lights, voice control, climate control, rear parking sensors, and four additional speakers.
Both petrol and diesel options are available in 1.5 or 2.0-litre capacity, however, the 1.5-litre 150hp petrol engine is best-suited for town driving. It’s an economical option returning close to 40mpg, so fewer trips to the pump. Result.
And just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, the Kodiaq also has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. So if you are ever unfortunate enough to have an accident, you can take comfort knowing your family are well-protected.
When it first entered the market, the Peugeot 3008 was certainly nothing to write home about. But in 2016 it underwent an impressive transformation and is arguably now one of the best looking SUVs out there.
The cabin is extremely spacious, with plenty of storage space and cupholders, but the use of quality materials feels distinctly premium, striking the perfect balance between style and practicality. Fabric-effect material covers parts of the dashboard, whilst the majority of the controls are hard metal toggles. And even Entry-level Active cars come with a leather-trimmed steering wheel.
The 3008 is well equipped, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink available across all trims. All climate control functions are controlled through an eight-inch infotainment system, leaving you with a beautifully uncluttered dashboard. And in addition to the standard touchscreen, there’s also a second 12-inch digital driver’s display behind the steering wheel - say goodbye to conventional analog dials!
Easy to drive and cheap to run, the 3008 really is a great all-rounder. The 131hp 1.2-litre petrol is ideal for small trips and town driving, but with excellent refinement, the 3008 is also great for motorway driving too.
Of course, we couldn’t complete this list without including an MPV. Before SUV’s flooded the family car market, MPVs were the go-to for larger families. And whilst we may see fewer of them on the road these days, models such as the Vauxhall Zafira remain fantastic family cars and deserve some recognition. So, what’s to love about the Zafira?
For starters, it’s surprisingly fun to drive. With good steering and excellent grip, you can really tackle those corners. The Zafira is also highly practical with huge amounts of space. Plus there are a number of seat arrangement options, allowing you to rearrange the rear seats to create more luggage or passenger space as required.
It’s not short on equipment either, with a generous selection of standard features including an eight-inch touchscreen, smart-phone mirroring, cruise control, air conditioning, and DAB digital radio.
If you’d prefer to spread the cost of your next vehicle over affordable monthly payments, Creditplus can help. With a flexible range of finance options available, you can choose the best finance package for your circumstances. Apply online today, to discuss your options with one of our friendly customer consultants.