Family comes first - especially when you’re deciding on your next family vehicle.
There’s plenty to consider before you jump behind the steering wheel of your new family car including things like capacity and budget.
But whether it’s youngsters in the back or teenagers learning to drive in the front seat, safety is likely at the forefront of your mind when it comes to the best family cars.
So have a look at our collection of the best family cars in Australia, including what to consider when getting ready to buy your new car.
What makes a good family car?
There are plenty of aspects that go into what’s considered to be a good, reliable family car that can get your whole clan from A to B.
Among many other things, affordability, safety and capacity are some of the top things many Australians consider when stepping into the family car market.
Upfront costs of buying a new family car can be hard to avoid, but there are plenty of affordable entry models on offer that don’t skimp on luxury.
However, ongoing costs including fuel, a car loan and servicing need to be factored in when deciding on the best family car to suit your lifestyle.
Hybrid and plug-in hybrid family cars could be a way to save on fuel. But having an electric motor might not suit some families who travel long distances rather than just through the urban crawl.
Meanwhile, family-friendly features including sneaky storage spaces for all the kids’ gear, big boot capacity, rear air vents, three-zone climate control, USB ports and extra cup holders could bump up the price. But depending on your circumstances and budget, it might be worth it.
When driving around the whole family, safety is likely the number one priority when choosing the best family cars.
Buying a new car over a used car might be the first step to take when considering safety features as safety tests on new cars have become more stringent since technology has advanced. 
In this day and age, there are plenty of incredible safety features in family cars that can ensure a safer drive.
Some of the key safety features to look out for include:
Adaptive cruise control
Smart city brake support
Lane departure warning
Autonomous emergency braking
Lane change assist
Pre-collision safety system
Forward collision avoidance assist
Lane keeping assist
Rear cross-traffic alert
Vehicle stability management
Lane trace assist
Rear occupant alert
Depending on the size of your family, you always need to consider capacity. Will a five-seater work just fine or do you need to look at a bigger family car that has a third row to fit up to eight people?
Most family cars include a third row that can be flattened down to maximise boot space and allow for more storage.
But third-row seats could be sacrificed entirely for smaller families if they want to create more cargo space instead.
And for younger families, it can also be important to make sure there’s enough room for child seats or baby car seats while also allowing enough space for growing children.
Best Family Cars in Australia
Here are some of the best family cars in Australia at the moment.
Hyundai Santa Fe
The seven-seater base model Hyundai Santa Fe is an affordable, reliable option for families who don’t need all the bells and whistles and may be working within a budget.
This is one of the best family cars thanks to its super spacious cabin and smooth ride within an affordable budget.
And while you can’t expect too much luxury in the Hyundai Santa Fe base model, the safety technology is up to standard with autonomous emergency braking, cruise control, lane keep assistance with lane centring, blind spot monitoring, rear park sensors and reversing camera – all standard.
However, body airbags are missing in the third row, with just curtain airbags installed to cover the glass.
Plenty of room in all three rows
Affordable, coming in just under $50,000 before on-road costs
Safety tech is up to standard
Smooth drive thanks to excellent insulation in the tyres
Lacks luxury feel with cloth seats and smaller tyres
Missing body airbags in back row
No factory navigation which can be annoying when out of service
Infotainment system not as advanced as other models
Read a full review of the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe from our friends at Chasing Cars.
Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid
The Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid is one of the most popular mid-size SUVs in Australia and a long-respected family car, all for good reasons.
Driving on the highway is incredibly smooth and the seamless hybrid system is perfect for the urban crawl.
Meanwhile, there are great safety standards with the complete Toyota Safety Sense Suite including interaction turn-assist with auto braking, emergency steering assist and all-speed active cruise control.
Other than a poor towing capacity and a very long waitlist, this family car ticks all of the boxes.
Comfortable drive, stylish interior and great seat space and boot capacity at 542 L
Great JBL sound system
Better fuel economy at 4.7 L/100 km with the use of an electric motor
User-friendly technology for infotainment system
5-star ANCAP-rated safety system
Massive wait list of more than a year in some cases
Poor towing capacity for Hybrid FWD at 480 kg
No seven-seat option
Smaller temporary spare tyre
Read a full review of the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser FWD Hybrid from our friends at Chasing Cars.
The CX-9 is Mazda’s largest car at the moment and the Sport is the most affordable model to fit the whole family.
With some fun features and a boot space that keeps growing every time you put down a row of seats, it’s a good price for such a large seven-seat family SUV.
There’s also a big tick in the safety section including radar cruise with stop and go, blind spot assistance, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition and driver attention alert.
And while it’s a comfortable drive with decent tractability, parking can be tricky in this large family car and there is a lack of luxury overall.
Affordable and comfortable seven-seat SUV at just over $50,000 driveaway
Great safety features and lots of cargo space
Large boot space that expands to more than 800 L with the back row down
Not the most frugal engine
Tricky parking such a large car
Not as luxurious in the cabin as other Mazda models
Read a full review of the 2023 Mazda CX-9 Sport from our friends at Chasing Cars.
While the Subaru Forester was once focused on making an exciting, adventurous drive, it’s now turned to creating more practical family cars.
And with some decent features including an engine that’s best driven at a measured pace and plenty of cargo capacity, the Forester has mostly achieved its new goal.
There’s also plenty of safety technology including high-speed autonomous emergency braking, cruise control, lane change assistance, blind spot assistance and rear cross-traffic alert.
Despite unimpressive fuel consumption, the Forester still sits above the rest when it comes to taking the SUV off-road, making it perfect for adventuring families.
Spacious with 1768 L of cargo capacity when seats are down and 1.3 m of boot width
One of the best SUVs to adventure
Relaxing, comfortable drive at lower speeds
Back seat vents, charging points and plenty of convenient storage
Not a powerhouse engine and can be loud
Average fuel consumption at 7.4 L per 100 km
Touch screen can be slow to respond
Read a full review of the 2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S from our friends at Chasing Cars.
The Skoda Kodiaq is great value for money for the medium-to-large SUV with seven seats that’s packed full of storage solutions for the whole family.
It offers an absorbent ride except for some bumps here and there as well as plenty of cargo space in each of the three rows of seats with heaps of storage solutions throughout the car.
There’s also a decent active safety kit including nine airbags, cruise control, lane-keep assist, manoeuvre assistance, front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree camera.
It offers a great SUV solution to the ever-popular Skoda Superb Wagon that also ranks fairly high in the list of family cars.
Strong engine and absorbent ride
Plenty of storage solutions including 765 L boot capacity behind second row seats
Decent safety features with nine airbags
Second row seats lack comfort
Occasional suspension issues
Could be more powerful
Read a full review of the 2022 Skoda Kodiaq RS from our friends at Chasing Cars.
If you have the people to fill this eight-seat beast, the Kia Carnival might be worth your time.
The Carnival is fairly manoeuvrable for such a big people mover and it comes with plenty of space including a whopping 2,785 L cabin capacity if the back seats are put down.
But with such a big car comes a slightly bumpier drive, average fuel consumption and a harder time trying to find a park.
Eight seats with an incredibly spacious cabin perfect for big families
Great on family road trips with 627 L of boot space with eight seats up
Helpful parking technologies and fairly manoeuvrable
Acceptable absorbency but a long way from being plush on the road
Average fuel consumption at 9.6 L per 100 km
Not the easiest car to drive around or park at 5.15 m long and almost two metres wide
Read a full review of the 2022 Kia Carnival SLi from our friends at Chasing Cars.
Yes, it’s a ute. But it’s a spacious dual cab ute that means tradies and outdoor adventurers can have the best of both worlds when it comes to finding the perfect family car.
The beauty of a ute tray means muddy dogs, wet togs and sand-covered toys can easily be thrown in the back without ruining the luxury of the leather-clad interior.
Another positive about having a ute as a family car is the heightened safety features including eight airbags, post-collision braking, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring.
Safe and reliable workhorse for every day and adventuring
Comfortable cabin and good seats for the kids
Benefits of having a tray for extra storage
Engine could be more powerful
Rear seats could be a bit squishy for older kids
Not the cheapest on the Australian market at $67,500
Read a full review of the 2023 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain from our friends at Chasing Cars.
Volvo XC90 Recharge PHEV
This family car is definitely on the pricier side, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more style and comfort, then you’ve struck gold.
As a luxury SUV, there’s lots packed into the higher price including plenty of advanced safety technology that’s subtle and not too overly controlling.
And with the plug-in hybrid option, Volvo claims the XC90 Recharge has a fuel consumption figure of 1.8 L per 100 km, meaning if it’s used right, more money could be saved in the long run.
Benefits of a hybrid vehicle to save fuel
Luxury feel on the interior and exterior
Plenty of power
Advanced safety technology
Big price tag of more than $130,000
Can feel weighty on the corners
Costly Volvo servicing
Read a full review of the 2022 Volvo XC90 Recharge PHEV from our friends at Chasing Cars.
For the everyday family of four, the Kia Sorento is a great choice thanks to the unexpected equipment tucked inside a decent price tag.
This SUV with seven seats offers up fantastic safety specs without impacting the chic interior or the impressive handling and steering capabilities.
But along with the reliable and practical measures, the Kia Sorento has an average fuel consumption rate and servicing can be more on the costly side of family cars.
Impressive drive and steering
Good value at just under $50,000 driveaway
Chic interior and great safety aspects
Average fuel consumption of 9.7 L per 100 km
Seats four people spaciously but can be tight with seven people
Read a full review of the 2022 Kia Sorento S V6 from our friends at Chasing Cars.
The Ford Everest is an impressive SUV that will not only fit the whole family but you’ll be able to tow the boat as well.
It offers up an impressive interior including plenty of advanced safety technology and even a basic games section for the kids in the infotainment section.
Although it’s an overall comfortable fit, the third row lacks some room and the fuel consumption is average for a family car.
Impressive cabin tech with advanced safety technology
Standard 3500 kg towing
Good V6 engine
Back row lacks room
Average fuel consumption between 7.2 L per 100 km and 8.5 L per 100 km
Affordable price for an entry model
Read a full review of the 2023 Ford Everest from our friends at Chasing Cars.
Toyota Kluger Hybrid
The Toyota Kluger has long been an impressive and affordable ride for families that love to tour.
The hybrid option not only offers up a decent engine but also incredible fuel savings.
For a large SUV, it ticks all the boxes but don’t expect anything too exciting or luxurious for this practicable and reliable family car.
Impressive ride for a hybrid engine
Fantastic fuel economy of 5.6 L per 100 km
Ticks all the boxes for safety
Dull driving dynamics
Tight back row
Read a full review of the 2023 Toyota Kluger GXL Hybrid from our friends at Chasing Cars.
There are plenty of amazing, reliable and affordable options for family cars that are currently available in the market.
But before you decide on the best family car for you, make sure you’ve checked it sits within your budget, considering not just upfront costs but also ongoing costs.
This could mean looking into hybrid family cars if the reduced fuel usage would make up the difference in the purchase price.
You should also consider the space of all three rows, especially for third row passengers where things can get a bit squishier if your kids are older.
Boot capacity is also a strong feature with most of these cars showing about 600 L of boot space with all the seats still up.
And finally, safety technology should be at the top of the game when choosing the best family car for you.
This is made easier through the safety rating of cars which is done through the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) crash tests.
As technology in the family car market advances, the tests become even more stringent.
This means newer models can generally offer more protection in an incident than an older model, which is why a new family car could be a better choice than a used car.