Feature article

The best family cars in NZ

Choosing a car for your family is an important decision. Here's our top tips for selecting wisely and keeping them safe.

New Zealand is a family focused country with masses of natural beauty and an abundance of things to see and do - making this a wonderful place to travel together. There’s also the need to ferry your brood around for more practical purposes. With this in mind, we figured it’s time to think about the most family friendly car types available in NZ.

What makes a good family car?

The answer to that question depends on the make-up of your own household. If you’re a couple with one little’un fresh out of the oven, you’ll have different requirements to a family unit featuring three teenagers – they’ll need extra car space for school runs, sports and recreational equipment, holiday gear etc.

Naturally, we also want to protect our family as much as possible, so it’s vital to consider the safety credentials of the family car. The great news is that, with the availability of the Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) and Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), we’re better informed than ever about the safety of our vehicles.

What are UCSR and ANCAP ratings?

The UCSR are designed to educate drivers based on information gleaned from long-term real-world used car crash data here in New Zealand and across the ditch in Australia. ANCAP ratings are based on a series of ‘laboratory’ condition crash tests on new cars.

By looking at these safety ratings, you’ll get a good idea of whether or not the car is likely to protect you and your family from the worst effects of a road accident, or leave you vulnerable to serious injury.

What family car types are there?

Pretty much any car can be a family car, depending on your personal needs and circumstances, but we’ll help you understand the best car candidates for your own clan by looking more closely at body types and what usages they’re best suited for.


Sports utility vehicles are amongst the most popular family cars in NZ. Large, powerful and suitable for ferrying around a decent number of passengers, they tick a lot of boxes for the average Kiwi family.

From doing the school run, to taking off on family holiday adventures with a car packed full of suitcases, tents, bikes, kayaks and sports equipment – an SUV has got you covered. An ideal choice for a large family.

Examples: Toyota RAV4Honda CR-VMitsubishi Outlander


      Another large vehicle, and historically the preferred family vehicle before SUVs started to rule the roost, a People-Mover is often considered the most practical car type on the market.

      Boasting the ability to transport eight passengers, excellent storage space and decent fuel economy, you can see why they’re traditionally a family favourite.

      Examples: Honda OdysseyKia CarnivalNissan Presage

        Station Wagon

        Not quite as popular as they used to be due to the rise of the SUV and MPV, a station wagon is still a very good choice of family car.

        You can pick up a good station wagon on the used car market for a pretty good price, and it won’t let you down on a school run or family fun day. Just be sure to check out the fuel consumption of your potential car, as they can sometimes be fairly thirsty vehicles.

        Examples: Ford MondeoSubaru ImprezaMazda 6


          One of the most popular car types seen hooning around on Kiwi roads, hatchbacks are small cars that can be deceptively versatile.

          If your family is yet to evolve beyond a tight little unit, a hatchback is an excellent choice of small car. It’ll get you and your small brood from A to B with minimal fuss and will be family-finance-friendly fuel efficient into the bargain. Nice!

          Examples: Suzuki SwiftMazda DemioVolkswagen Golf

            Happy families

            Now that we’ve helped make your choice of family car a little bit easier, it’s time to get busy searching for what’s currently available – you’ll soon be ready to load up the kids and hit the road. Here’s to safe, happy and exciting motoring!