Five of the best used family cars

In these tough economic times buying a brand new car isn't always an option, sometimes a used one makes more sense.

The costs a new born baby bring with them can mount up quickly so buying second hand can make a lot of sense. You won't have to worry as much about depreciation, it'll be cheaper to buy in the first place and if you get one that's been looked after it should be pretty reliable too.

Buy from a reputable dealer, or when shopping privately look for a stamped up service history, and you won't go far wrong. What's more there's a lot of choice in the used market for your money.

With that in mind we flipped the search for a family car from the new market to the used. Here's what we'd buy.

The Sensible Choice: Ford C-MAX

The C-MAX is based on the Focus chassis but has added headroom and a more family-orientated feel. A new model has just arrived in dealers which means the last generation is an excellent used buy. We'd opt for one with a 2.0-litre TDCI engine. You can pick up an 03-reg with under 100k on the clock for around £3,000. The specification is pretty impressive – most have air con and CD players – while Fords are cheap to service, repair and insure.

The Budget Choice: Citroen Berlingo

You can find Citroen Berlingos for under £1,000 and that's not bad for a perfect family car that even Jeremy Clarkson recommends! Ok, so it might not be the prettiest vehicle on the road, or the best to drive, but inside it's got lots of that much-needed space. As long as they're looked after, Berlingos can be pretty solid and if you can stretch to the diesel model it won't cost the earth to run either.

The Wacky Choice: Fiat Multipla

We're not going to lie, this car hurts our eyes – but there are many people out there who love it. What's more if you're looking for family transport that'll stand out from the crowd it's ideal. The good news is it makes a sensible family car buy too. Three seats in the front and three in the back make it practical, those rounded sides give a great feeling of space and they're cheap to run. Latterly the looks were toned down, but an original model, on a Y-reg, could be yours for just £900 now.

The Mad Choice: Audi RS6

Having kids doesn't mean you have to be boring! A family car needs to be spacious, practical and safe – and an RS6 ticks all those boxes. Pick the estate version and its practical, the cabin is snug but there's easily enough room for a child seat and four-wheel drive will keep things in check. What's more, when the little one's with granny you can let rip and enjoy the 444bhp 4.2-litre twin turbo powerplant. You can pick up an original for around £11k and the newer version for £40k.

The Reluctant Family Man Choice: Ford S-MAX

Ok, so you might not be able to fool the other half into thinking the RS6 is a family car, but you certainly will be able to with this Ford. The S-MAX might look like a practical motor (it is), but if you opt for the 2.5-litre turbo charged model (engine borrowed from the Focus ST) then it's Daddy Cool transportation too! Named European Car of the Year 2007, the S-Max has seven seats, lots of kit, and can be found for around £6,000 in the used market.

Well, that's what we think you should buy, but you may have other ideas. If you do, we'd love to hear them. Post your choices for Sensible, Budget, Wacky, Mad and Reluctant Family Man cars below and we'll take a look.
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