Best cars for three child seats

Finding a car large enough for three child seats is harder than you think. We've picked eight great choices, including an electric supermini

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Oct 21, 2020

If you’ve ever had to squeeze a child seat into a car, you’ll know that it’s not always plain sailing. It’s even more challenging if you’re forced to crowbar three child seats into a family car - especially as child seats seem to get bigger year by year.

'Isofix' points - which allow you to securely mount a child seat - certainly help. They’re built into the car’s structure to provide the best safety for your child. Although you will find Isofix points in most cars sold since 2006, they’ve been mandatory on all new cars sold in Europe since 2014. Not only do they provide improved safety, but they'll also make it clear if the child seat has been fitted incorrectly. Not all cars have as many Isofix points as others, though, or as much space to fit the child seats to them.

If you have three children that require a child seat, you’re going to want at least three sets of Isofix points in your new car. You also need to factor in a large boot, storage in the cabin for your odds and ends, plus doors that open wide enough to allow you to get a child into one of the seats. Maybe a few headache tablets, too, to cope with the constant cries of ‘are we nearly there yet?' coming from the back seat.

Don't be fooled into thinking you'll need an enormous or expensive car to secure enough Isofix points and sufficient space for child seats, though, there are plenty of smaller and affordable options that will fit the bill, as the cars below prove. 

Best cars for three car seats

1. Seat Alhambra

Used deals from £12,980
Monthly finance from £216

The Seat Alhambra is one of the best seven-seat family cars you can buy. It’s based on the equally practical and almost identical Volkswagen Sharan, but because the Alhambra is cheaper, the choice is something of a no brainer.

All five rear seats - across two separate rows - come with Isofix points for mounting a child seat, but the Alhambra also impresses in other areas. The three seats in the middle row slide independently, so you can move the seats closer to the driver for easy access. You also have total flexibility, whether you’re after seven, six, five, four, three or even two seats.

Best of all, the sliding rear doors make it easy for you and your children to get into the back. Opt for anything above the entry-level Alhambra and you’ll enjoy the convenience of electric sliding doors and a powered tailgate. This could be the ultimate car for large families.

SEAT ALHAMBRA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Renault Zoe

Used deals from £6,300
Monthly finance from £126

If you fancy reducing your impact on the planet while keeping your precious cargo safe in a compact car, the Renault Zoe could be the car for you. Not only does it have a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating to its name, it also comes with three Isofix mounting points - two in the back and one in the front. Not bad for such a small car.

The Zoe is one of the most affordable electric cars in the UK, with new prices starting from around £26,500 after the government plug-in car grant. Good value for an electric car offering a range of up to 245 miles. Especially as used models are now available for much less than that - prices for the latest Zoe model start from £18,500 on BuyaCar.

Although earlier models offer a smaller battery range - and you have to factor in the cost of leasing the batteries with some models - an electric car for less than £10,000 could be a huge money saver. Time to get your children used to an electric future?

RENAULT ZOE BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Vauxhall Combo Life

Used deals from £11,990
Monthly finance from £171

If you’re after flexibility from your family car, the Vauxhall Combo Life is hard to beat. It’s based on a van, so you get a huge amount of interior space, regardless of whether you choose the standard or longer XL version. You also get a choice of five or seven seats.

All models feature three separate Isofix mounting points as standard, so fitting a trio of child seats won’t be a problem. You also get a pair of sliding rear doors and more than enough headroom for your children to travel home from a fancy dress party without removing their hats.

We’d recommend choosing a model with the optional Child Pack, which comprises a rear-view child-minder mirror, rear side-window sunblinds and a fold-flat passenger seat. Seven-seat versions also get a luggage restraint net as part of the pack.

VAUXHALL COMBO LIFE BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Audi Q2

Used deals from £14,499
Monthly finance from £202

If you’re after a small but practical crossover for the school run, the Audi Q2 is one of the best of the breed. It comes with a fashionable Audi badge on the front grille, along with a larger boot than the popular A3 hatchback and it feels very upmarket inside.

Although the Q2 is more expensive than some mainstream rivals - especially if you opt for one of the higher trim levels - even the entry-level model comes with air-conditioning, a seven-inch media system, DAB digital radio, rear parking sensors, cruise control and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Although you won’t be able to fit three child seats in the back, the Audi Q2 comes with Isofix mounting points for the front passenger seat, plus an airbag deactivation switch, to ensure that the child seat stays in place in the event of a crash. This means you can fit three child seats overall, making the Q2 perfect for quick trips to school and playgroup.

AUDI Q2 BUYERS' GUIDE

5. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

Used deals from £9,900
Monthly finance from £160

Fancy a classy people carrier with ample space for five people and a large boot? The 2 Series Active Tourer might not be as desirable as some of the other models in the BMW range, but you’ll have the last laugh when it comes to loading baby gear into the boot and children into the rear seats.

As you’d expect from an 'MPV' - also known as a people carrier - space in the back is excellent, with enough room for three adults. This is good news if you’re hoping to put three children in the back, although only the outer seats come with Isofix points. But fear not, because you’ll also find Isofix mounts in the front.

You might be wondering if the 2 Series Active Tourer is spacious enough with three child seats in place. Well, the middle rear seat might be a little cramped with child seats fitted either side, so if you need to carry more people, you should opt for the 2 Series Gran Tourer. We’d like to say it got its name because it's specially designed for grandmothers, but it’s simply ‘Gran’ as in large and comes with seven seats. Shame.

BMW 2 SERIES ACTIVE TOURER BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Nissan Micra

Used deals from £7,899
Monthly finance from £130

Launched in 2017, the current Nissan Micra is the most tech-laden and bold looking version of this popular supermini to date. It’s not the biggest car in its class, but the boot is large enough to swallow a pushchair, while your children won’t have any complaints about the space in the back until they reach their teenage years.

Crucially, you’ll find Isofix mounting points on the outer rear seats and the front passenger seat, so fitting three child seats won’t be a problem. All versions get air-conditioning to keep your little ones cool, plus a USB port for playing music to keep them amused.

We’d recommend the mid-range Acentra trim level, as this adds stylish 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and an improved media display to the mix. If parking is a problem, upgrade to the N-Sport or Tekna trims for a rear-view camera and rear parking sensors.

NISSAN MICRA BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Mini Countryman

Used deals from £16,790
Monthly finance from £258

Although the Mini hatchback comes with front and rear Isofix points, it’s not really the ideal family car. The five-door version makes things a little easier, but there will come a time when you have to admit defeat and go-large. Which is where the Mini Countryman comes in.

It’s a supersize version of the Mini Hatchback, with a high driving position, enough room in the boot for a pushchair or three suitcases, and an upmarket cabin that’s loaded with neat details. It’s a family car you can buy with your head and your heart.

You’ll find two sets of Isofix mounting points in the back, with enough room in the middle seat for a third child who is old enough to travel without a child seat. If you need a third child seat, front passenger seat Isofix mounts are available for £100 across the Countryman range, so make sure this is fitted if you’re buying used.

MINI COUNTRYMAN BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Audi Q7

Used deals from £31,415
Monthly finance from £461

The Audi Q7 is huge. Properly huge. It also comes with a huge price tag, but you might be surprised to discover that used values now start at around £30,000 for the current version. This means it’s a realistic alternative to other family-friendly SUVs like the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90.

Launched in 2015, the current Audi Q7 is safer and more efficient than its predecessor, with a high-quality cabin that’s a match for anything in the class. There’s seating for seven, with a generous 295 litres of luggage space available, even with all seven seats in use. That’s the same amount of space you’ll find in a supermini.

But here’s the reason why it makes our list: SIX Isofix mounting points. That’s right, you can fit six child seats in an Audi Q7, which makes it the ideal choice if you’re the coach of a young six-a-side football team. We take no responsibility for the racket you’ll hear when the six passenger seats are occupied. It’s just as well the Q7 comes with a decent stereo.

AUDI Q7 BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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