Practical cars with low running costs
Everyone has a different definition of a family car, however, generally they tend to have a decent sized boot and space for the family to travel comfortably. Some families may be relatively small, whereas others are considerably larger.
If you have several children who will be regularly travelling in the car you may need to consider a 7-seater SUV. You'll struggle to find a hybrid 7-seater MPV and that's because people are choosing SUVs over MPVs as family cars so manufacturers aren't really focusing on multi-purpose vehicles.
Many cars now feature 48-volt mild hybrid technology to support their petrol and diesel engines so for the sake of this article we have focused purely on HEVs and PHEVs.
Toyota C-HR Hybrid
Toyota has become a bit of a household name when referring to hybrid vehicles and that's because the Prius is basically the first car that springs to mind when you mention the term 'hybrid car' in Britain.
Like the Prius, the C-HR employs self-charging hybrid technology, which means you don't need to worry about plugging the vehicle in to recharge the battery. Powered by a combination of either a 1.8-litre or 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, the C-HR is real head-turner and manages to stand out in a traffic jam.
Being a 5-door crossover, access is simple for the whole family, whilst the boot offers up to a generous 443 litres capacity with all five seats in place.
You can expect a fuel economy of up to 56.4mpg and uncompromising protection for all members of the family, thanks to Toyota Safety Sense, which comes as standard across the range.
Kia Niro Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid
The great thing about this family SUV is that you can choose between a HEV or PHEV Kia Niro. Both hybrid vehicles are powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, but the PHEV model has a much larger battery.
Due to the bigger battery, the PHEV model has the ability to be driven on electric power alone for up to 31 miles on a single charge. As the name suggests, the plug-in hybrid variant needs charging by plugging-in to a charging point. Fuel economy is around 60mpg in the HEV model, but if you go for the PHEV model you can expect up to 201mpg.
Space and practicality are a focus with the Niro and families will have access to a decent boot with a loadspace of up to 382 litres in the HEV model. The PHEV's capacity is reduced due to the larger batteries but you still get 324 litres to make use of.
If you're looking for a hybrid car that's capable of towing, both the HEV and PHEV Niro models can tow a maximum braked trailer weight of 1,300kg.
Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid
Despite the Hyundai IONIQ offering traditional family car design, it manages to look sleek and attractive with its coupé-style silhouette. Available as both a self-charging hybrid or a plug-in hybrid, the IONIQ is likely to appeal to families looking for a car that's up to the job without having to go for an SUV.
Both variants are powered by a combination of a 1.6-litre petrol internal combustion engine and an electric motor, however, like with the Niro, the PHEV model features a larger battery.
An all-electric range of up to 39 miles in the PHEV will enable a lot of families to complete the majority of their journeys in pure electric mode, producing zero CO2 emissions. Charging is simple either by a dedicated home charger, public charging station or a standard 3-pin plug socket.
The luggage capacity in the IONIQ Hybrid is surprisingly large with up to 443 litres available with all seats in place. Space is reduced slightly in the IONIQ Plug-in Hybrid, but you'll still get a good 341 litres.
BMW 3 Series Plug-in Hybrid
Just because you're ferrying children around doesn't mean you can't go for a premium car with style. The BMW 3 Series can be selected as either a saloon or estate (Touring) model, but if you are wanting space and practicality the 3 Series Touring is likely to make the most sense.
Look out for the BMW 330e, which is the plug-in hybrid version of this popular BMW model. Up to 37 miles can be driven in all-electric mode.
Boot capacity is less than the petrol and diesel-powered models but you still have access to 410 litres of loadspace in the Touring. Towing capacity is also lower in the PHEV models, but the 330e Touring and Saloon are still capable of towing up to a 1,500kg braked trailer.
If you're wanting the four-wheel drive versions of the 3 Series Plug-in Hybrid you'll need to keep an eye out for an xDrive model.
Renault Captur E-Tech Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid
Now, the HEV version of the Renault Captur was only released in 2021 so you'll struggle to find as many used examples as you can for the PHEV that's been around a little longer. However, we've included both so you're fully aware of what's available out there.
Low running costs are a benefit of both versions and you can expect around 56mpg with the HEV or up to 188mpg in the PHEV. Up to 30 miles can be driven in pure electric mode with the plug-in hybrid, meaning it's basically an electric car for day-to-day driving and a hybrid for those occasional longer journeys.
Like all PHEVs, the Captur is no different and will need charging to restore the battery capacity, but it can be fully charged in just over four hours when using a standard household plug socket.
Boot space isn't as good as some of the other models in this article, but if you're a small family, or the kids are old enough to not need pushchairs, 326 litres in the HEV and 265 litres in the PHEV isn't terrible.
Volkswagen Golf GTE
One of the best all-round cars available on the market, the Volkswagen Golf makes an excellent family hatchback. Most people will be familiar with the GTI and GTD models, but did you know there's also a GTE model, which is a plug-in hybrid?
Receiving plug-in hybrid technology in 2014, the Mk7 Golf GTE can cover around 31 miles in 100 percent electric mode on a full charge. Simply plug the car into a domestic household socket, a dedicated home charger or a public charging station to restore the battery's charge.
You may be starting to see a trend here as the GTE's boot space is slightly compromised compared to the petrol and diesel-powered models. However, you'll have to weigh up whether boot space or lower running costs are more important for you and your family.
Volvo XC90 Plug-in Hybrid
Here's one for the larger families, the Volvo XC90 can seat up to seven people and is available as a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Volvo's 2.0-litre T8 plug-in hybrid combines a turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine with an electric motor to deliver high performance, low CO2 emissions and enable the premium SUV to travel in pure electric mode for up to approximately 30 miles.
Around 100mpg is achievable in the all-wheel drive SUV and families will appreciate the gigantic 640-litre boot capacity, when in 5-seat mode. Even when all seven seats are in place you'll still have access to 262 litres of boot volume. A braked trailer of 2,400kg can be towed with the XC90 PHEV.
As you'd expect from a Volvo car, there's plenty of safety equipment on offer including a Run Off-Road system that prepares the vehicle for a crash if it senses you leaving the tarmac. Special energy-absorbent seats help with reducing the impact of a big hit too.
MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid
When somebody mentions the MINI brand, you'll likely think of the iconic 3-door Hatch, which we agree doesn't make perfect sense as a family car; although we wouldn't discourage buying this if you're a smaller family.
The MINI Countryman we're on about here is more family-focused than the smaller hatchback models and is actually considered to be an SUV. Available as a plug-in hybrid, you can drive up to 26 miles in electric mode before engaging the petrol engine.
With all four seats in place, you'll have plenty of room for buggies, luggage or even the pet Labrador thanks to 211 litres of space. Speaking of Labradors, if you need to regularly transport the family dog, we've created a blog on the best cars for dog owners and a blog on how to keep your canine companion safe during the car journey.
Ford Kuga Full Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid
The latest generation Ford Kuga is also available as the Kuga Full Hybrid (FHEV) and the Kuga Plug-in Hybrid.
Up to 35 miles can be driven in all-electric mode with the PHEV model and you should expect a fuel consumption of around 201mpg. The FHEV doesn't need plugging-in to recharge as it uses regenerative braking, with this model you should see up to 51mpg.
Flexible rear-seating is a fantastic feature so you can either provide extra legroom for rear passengers or slide the seats forward to create a larger boot capacity, increasing the already adequate space by up to 67 litres.
Earning a 5-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, the Kuga will make an excellent family SUV and will allow drivers to appreciate a beautifully designed car that's effortlessly capable and practical for family life.
Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid and Hybrid4
With the Vauxhall Grandland X you get the choice of a 225bhp front-wheel drive (Hybrid) or a 296bhp all-wheel drive version (Hybrid4) of the plug-in hybrid, which combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors.
Pure electric mode can be maintained for up to 35 miles, when the battery is fully charged. Regenerative braking, which captures kinetic energy to convert to electricity, has the ability to boost this range by up to 10 percent.
Boot capacity is reduced from 514 litres in the petrol and diesel-powered Grandland X to a still-impressive 390 litres, which is more than enough for the majority of families to fit a pushchair, a dog or two and the weekly food shop.
Both versions of the PHEV have a maximum braked towing weight of 1,250kg.
Find you perfect used hybrid family car at Evans Halshaw
You can browse our extensive collection of used hybrid cars that are suitable for family life online, or you can visit your nearest Evans Halshaw dealership to see their stock and go for a test drive in any that take your fancy.
Alternatively, if you still need further inspiration with your car search, you can take a look at our blog section, which is regularly updated with buyer's guides.