Best cars for toddlers

We can’t magic away the terrible twos or temper tantrums, but these cars are ideal for carrying your precious toddlers

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Mar 18, 2021

Broadly speaking, a toddler is a child aged 12 to 36 months. This means they’ll still be in a child seat, but they might be able to climb into the back of the car on their own. It’s up to you, though, to make sure they’re sitting comfortably and safely strapped in.

By all means ask your child for a list of the best cars for toddlers. Just don’t be surprised if the response includes the likes of ‘that big red one’, ’the one that goes beep-beep’ and ‘twain – I wanna twain that goes choo-choo’.

At BuyaCar, we can’t offer a twain that goes choo-choo, but we do have thousands of red used cars for sale. Our search function allows you to select your favourite colour, even if it’s pink, beige or purple.

We’ve pulled together a list of the best cars for toddlers - which thankfully cater for the parents of toddlers - including practical estate cars and spacious SUVs. All cars are available for less than £25,000 with low monthly payments available on PCP finance.

Best cars for toddlers

1. Skoda Octavia Estate

Used deals from £17,290
Monthly finance from £250*

The new Skoda Octavia Estate is bigger, faster and generally better than the car it replaced. If you thought the old Octavia was big, wait until you see the size of this one. It’s wider and taller than before, so you get an even larger boot.

This thing swallows pushchairs, buggies and ride-on tractors for breakfast. Not literally, because that would be a bedtime story your toddler won’t want to hear. So it’s bigger, but what about the ‘more’ part of the tenuous 4 Non Blondes connection? Well, you get more for your money, with standard equipment including a 10.3-inch digital instrument display in the place of a conventional speedometer and rev counter, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, 16-inch alloy wheels, five USB ports, cruise control and dual-zone air-conditioning.

Is it better? Absolutely, because the interior quality has gone up a notch, while some versions get an impressive 10-inch touchscreen media system with voice control. And those five USB ports. Your toddler may not be addicted to anything that requires a USB port to charge yet, but trust us these will come in handy very soon. Cliche alert: the Skoda Octavia Estate could be all the family car you ever need. A sporty high-performance vRS version will be along soon to tick the ‘faster’ box.

2020 SKODA OCTAVIA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Ford B-Max

Used deals from £6,250
Monthly finance from £127*

The Ford B-Max is one of the most affordable cars on the BuyaCar website, but it also happens to be one of the cleverest. There’s no central pillar between the front and rear doors, which means it’s incredibly easy to get in and out once you've opened the front and rear doors together. Your toddler might require a step ladder to climb into an SUV, but in the B-Max it’s as easy as ABC. This Ford puts the B into ABC, or something.

There’s more, because the rear doors slide backwards on runners, which means it’s easy to access the back seats in a tight parking space. Because the rear seats are mounted higher than the front seats, your children will have a good view out of the front window, too.

All models come with a child observation mirror, which flips out from the roof to give the driver a view of what’s going on in the back seat. It means you can keep an eye on your toddlers without turning your head. You also get a heated windscreen, so you don’t have to wait for the glass to clear on a frosty morning.

FORD B-MAX BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Seat Leon ST

Used deals from £9,895
Monthly finance from £159*

The Seat Leon ST (or Sport Tourer) is the more practical estate version of the Leon hatchback. A new version was launched in 2020, but we’re recommending the previous-generation Leon ST, as you’ll get more for your money. Especially via the BuyaCar website.

Although it’s not quite as practical as the closely related Skoda Octavia Estate (Seat and Skoda are both owned by Volkswagen), the Leon is arguably better looking, so you’ll cut a mean figure in the soft play area car park. The 587-litre boot is large enough for a pushchair or two, while the wide-opening rear doors provide easy access for your little ones.

The SE Technology trim features the likes of 16-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen media system, sat-nav, and rear seats that fold 60:40 for maximum versatility. All versions get Isofix points in the outer rear seats for safely mounting child seats.

SEAT LEON ST BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

Used deals from £6,890
Monthly finance from £148*

If you’re brave enough to take five toddlers to the trampoline park, before stopping at the drive-thru on the way home, the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer could be right up your street. It comes with five rear seats, all of which can be folded flat in a matter of seconds. Try doing that in a fashionable SUV.

In fact, the 'Flex7' seating is one of the Zafira’s key selling points. The seats in the second row come with a sliding function and fold-flat facility, while the two seats in the third row can be folded flat. On some trim levels, the individual second-row seats can be converted into two ‘captain’ seats with an individual centre armrest.

The Design trim is the most popular model on the BuyaCar website. Highlights include 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, air-conditioning, a seven-inch colour touchscreen media system and cruise control.

VAUXHALL ZAFIRA TOURER BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life

Used deals from £20,000
Monthly finance from £305*

The Caddy Maxi Life might be one of the best-kept secrets of the Volkswagen range. While we’d understand if your head was turned by the stylish Tiguan, T-Cross or T-Roc SUVs, there’s a lot to like about the more sensible Caddy Maxi Life (even if it sounds like the name of a pushchair).

Even a 2019 model costs less than the price of a new Ford Fiesta, so it’s ideal if you’re looking for something practical on a budget. The Caddy Maxi Life is 470mm longer than the standard Caddy Life, which provides an extra 340 litres of luggage capacity - great if you want to carry people and luggage. All versions come with seven seats.

Sliding rear doors with sliding windows and child locks are standard, with Isofix points fitted to the outer rear seats in the middle row. There are hidden storage areas in the floor, along with a handy shelf in the roof. If you’re concerned about the rather boxy styling, may we suggest finding a Caddy Maxi Life in Viper Green metallic paint? It’s the car Kermit would choose for his toddlers.

6. Kia Carens

Used deals from £8,295
Monthly finance from £191*

This is one of the most family-friendly cars you can buy. Although production stopped in 2019, the Kia Carens comes with a seven-year warranty, so the latest models will be covered until 2026. Your toddler could be ready to start ‘big school’ by then. We suspect the Carens will still be running well.

The Carens is all about practicality, flexibility and convenience. Seven seats come as standard, including two independent seats in the third rows, so you can make use of half the boot if you only require six seats. The seats in the second row slide and recline for maximum versatility and comfort.

You also get a chilled glovebox for storing drinks and snacks on a long journey, underfloor storage in the second row, plus a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Some versions get an opening panoramic sunroof with an electric blind, a seven-inch touchscreen media system with sat-nav, rear window blinds and heated front seats.

KIA CARENS BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Vauxhall Combo Life

Used deals from £13,788
Monthly finance from £232*

We’re not going to pretend that the Vauxhall Combo Life is exciting, because it isn’t. Instead, it’s a car that puts function before form, and versatility before style. It might be a ‘van with windows’, but it shares a platform with the Peugeot Rifter and Citroen Berlingo, so it’s powered by a range of economical and punchy engines. It’s also cheaper than its French siblings.

All models feature three separate Isofix mounting points as standard, so you can fit three child seats alongside each other in the back. A seven-seat version is available if you need to carry more children.

You’ll find up to 27 storage compartments throughout the vehicle, while an optional panoramic roof comes with an overhead storage console, ambient lighting and an electric sunblind. We’d recommend the optional Child Pack, which comes with a rear-view child-minder mirror, rear side-window sunblinds, a fold-flat passenger seat and, on seven-seat models, a luggage net.

VAUXHALL COMBO LIFE BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

Used deals from £29,600
Monthly finance from £358*

We end with a wildcard. Shooting Brake is Mercedes speak for a car that’s not quite an estate, but is more practical than a hatchback. This means the CLA sits somewhere between the Mercedes A-Class and C-Class Estate. It’s arguably better looking than the pair.

The interior is beautifully finished, but it’s the technology that creates the biggest wow factor. An impressive 10.3-inch touchscreen media system is standard across the range, while a digital instrument panel is fitted to all but the entry-level CLA Shooting Brake.

There’s 505 litres of luggage space in the boot, which is 45 litres more than you’ll find in the CLA saloon. Thanks to the wide opening, it’s easy to load pushchairs and buggies into the back. This generation of CLA arrived in 2019, but prices on BuyaCar have already dropped below the £25,000 mark. Alternatively, it’s worth considering the earlier model if you want the look for less, because these are available for less than the price of a new city car.

MERCEDES CLA BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta Titanium:

Monthly payments over 48 months: £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage allowance: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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