Best big cars

Large cars can be chosen out of necessity or as a luxury. No matter what encourages you to go large, read on for eight of the best big cars

James Wilson
Dec 10, 2020

Size matters. The best small cars are great, but if you want room to stretch out or to carry lots of mates around, you can't beat a big car. Many people associate big cars with large families that need to transport lots of children around, but this is not the only task large cars are good for.

Sizeable vehicles tend to have big boots, meaning they can be helpful for everything from transporting the mountains of kit a keen windsurfer might need to catering for a double bass that a musician may want to ferry around. Or even a windsurfing rig and a double bass for a musical windsurfer.

For those searching for a big car, it isn’t quite as straightforward as you’d think, though. Part of this is thanks to the vast breadth of makes and models and types of cars available. There are prodigious people carriers, substantial SUVs, enormous estates, spacious saloons and huge hatchbacks to choose from. This does mean that whatever you're after, there should be a car to suit your needs, though.

The choice doesn’t end there, however, as there are five-, six-, seven-, eight- and nine-seaters to choose from, along with the dilemma of whether to choose a petrol-, a diesel- or a battery-powered vehicle, which type of gearbox to go for and whether four-wheel drive is needed. Fortunately, you need not trouble yourself trawling through all the options, as we've rounded up eight of the very best affordable big cars for different tasks.

Every model is readily available second-hand with the more affordable suggestions costing around £10,000 (or around £150 per month) and the more expensive typically costing up to £35,000 (or around £500 per month). All of the cars below measure in at 4.6m long or above, but most importantly they use their space well, to provide the best boot, comfort, luxury or number of seats.

Best big cars

1. Skoda Kodiaq

Best big car for SUV style and a large boot

Our pick Skoda Koqiaq SE
Used deals from £15,997
Monthly finance from £227*
Number of seats five or seven
Boot space (seats up) 835 litres (270 litres in seven-seater form with all seats in place)
Boot space (seats down) 2,065 litres (2,005 litres in seven-seater form)

Ignoring its sheer size for one second, the Skoda Kodiaq is one of the best family cars available. Full stop. It is comfortable, practical and promises to be relatively affordable to run. That last one is largely helped by the impressive range of petrol and diesel engines which mostly blend performance and fuel economy quite well.

Diesel models are best suited to those who cover higher mileages, with petrol versions working best for those who typically drive in town. Either way, you get a stylish off-roader with a high driving position and tonnes of boot space. Even with all seven seats in use, there's still a decent amount of boot room - something that often isn't the case with all but the very biggest people carriers or SUVs.

There are five- and seven-seat versions available as well as two- and four-wheel drive variants. Skoda isn’t done with options there, either, as there are manual and automatic gearboxes on offer, too, with the more expensive and more powerful models typically coming with an automatic gearbox as standard.

While Skodas aren’t quite the bargains they used to be, the Kodiaq is still excellent value - especially if you pick up a used model - and comes with plenty of equipment as standard. Rear parking sensors, an eight-inch touchscreen media system and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility are included across the Kodiaq range.

SKODA KODIAQ BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Volkswagen Transporter

Best big car for carrying lots of passengers

Our pick Volkswagen Transporter Shuttle
Used deals from £21,695
Monthly finance from £466*
Number of seats Up to nine
Boot space (seats up) N/a
Boot space (seats down) Up to 6,700 litres (long wheelbase models with their rear seats removed)

Few people carriers are as iconic as the Volkswagen Transporter, largely thanks to the original Transporter - available in a number of incarnations since the 1950s - being synonymous with hippies, movies and exciting road trips. That isn’t to say that newer versions are lacking in excitement, however.

Modern-day Transporters are reliable, relatively economical and desirable. But above all they're super practical. That's because they're based on a van, so whether you need to load people or luggage, you're well catered for. As for specification levels, there are only two - S and SE. You don't get a huge amount of standard equipment, but niceties such as Bluetooth and a digital radio are available.

There are all kinds of weird and wonderful versions of the Transporter, but for maximum people carrying ability ‘Shuttle’ models are amongst the best. They typically have seven or eight seats but nine-seater versions are available, too. The current generation Transporter is referred to as the ‘T6’ but updated ‘T6.1’ models arrived in 2019 and improved refinement somewhat, so look for one of these if you want the most upmarket-feeling model. T6 Transporters are all diesel-powered - though there are several diesel engines available - with a choice of automatic and manual gearboxes.

VOLKSWAGEN TRANSPORTER BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Mercedes E-Class

Best big car for affordable luxury

Our pick Mercedes E-Class SE
Used deals from £11,898
Monthly finance from £225*
Number of seats five
Boot space (seats up) 540 litres (640 litres in estate models)
Boot space (seats down) N/a (1,820 litres in estate models)

The Mercedes E-Class has been a popular luxurious but affordable car for many years with sleek saloon versions and more spacious estate models available. Its mixture of practicality (in estate form), comfort and its luxurious feel has proven popular with families and company car drivers alike. You get plenty of equipment as standard - which isn't always the case with upmarket models - with a reversing camera, cruise control and heated seats all included.

Mercedes launched a new E-Class in 2016 and a number of four-year old models are now available from well under £20,000. More affordable E-Class versions are likely to be lower-powered diesels but there is a wide range of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines to choose from - although all models come with an automatic gearbox.

For those after maximum performance, there are even incredibly rapid AMG performance versions, but these are quite expensive. Saying that, mid-level E43 AMG variants can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds thanks to a powerful 3.0-litre petrol engine and are now starting to drop below the £35,000-mark, making them a great value option.

MERCEDES E-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Mazda 6 Tourer

Best big car for good reliability

Our pick Mazda 6 Tourer SE-L Nav
Used deals from £11,198
Monthly finance from £213*
Number of seats 5
Boot space (seats up) 522 litres
Boot space (seats down) 1,644 litres

The Mazda 6 is an attractive big car. Scratch beneath the sharp styling and the good news continues. For starters, the 6 is reliable - in Auto Express’ annual Driver Power survey, where drivers rate how satisfied they are with their cars, the large Mazda was rated as the second most reliable car of this type. Furthermore, the 6 is not only comfortable but very enjoyable to drive for a car of this size, and all of the engines available are relatively economical.

On the subject of engines, petrol and diesel engines are available, though it's the diesels that are most common. With many drivers preferring petrol power to diesel engines, following question marks over diesel emissions, you may be tempted to do the same. However, the 6's diesel engines are some of the very best available. Whether you go for the 150hp, 175hp or 184hp version of the 2.2-litre diesel, you get a very responsive, economical and refined machine. The petrol engines, meanwhile, feel weedy in comparison.

Similarly, there are automatic and manual gearboxes to choose from, but again the latter is more readily available and the better choice for those who enjoy driving. Mazda updated Tourer estate and saloon versions of the 6 in 2015 so it is best to find versions made after this to get a slicker media system and models that meet the latest emissions standards.

MAZDA 6 TOURER BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Peugeot 508 SW

Best big car for zero-emission capability and style

Our pick Peugeot 508 SW Plug-in Hybrid Allure
Used deals from £26,994
Monthly finance from £407*
Number of seats five
Boot space (seats up) 530 litres
Boot space (seats down) 1,780 litres

Efficient, practical and stylish - three words which all describe the current-generation Peugeot 508 SW PHEV. For those wondering, ‘SW’ stands for ‘station wagon’, which is Peugeot-speak for an estate car and ‘PHEV’ stands for ‘plug-in hybrid electric vehicle’ which is a term used by many car manufacturers to refer to those that have a petrol or diesel engine, plus an electric motor and battery pack, which can be charged by plugging the car in.

Fully charged, the 508 PHEV is claimed to be capable of up to 33 to 39 miles (depending on specification) on electricity alone. This means that you can cover shorter trips using just electricity, or use a combination of petrol and electric power on longer journeys, though as soon as the petrol engine kicks in you can expect your fuel economy to quickly drop.

All 508 PHEV models come with an automatic gearbox plus a petrol engine and electric motor combination. As for standard equipment, there's plenty to enjoy with the 508 PHEV - climate control (fancy air-conditioning), Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility and keyless entry are all included.

PEUGEOT 508 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Audi Q7

Best big car for lots of in-car technology

Our pick Audi Q7 S line
Used deals from £18,799
Monthly finance from £374*
Number of seats seven
Boot space (seats up) 295 litres
Boot space (seats down) 1,955 litres

The latest-generation Audi Q7 was launched in 2015 and revamped in 2019 - although refreshed versions are not yet readily available at sub-£35,000. This isn’t the end of the world, though, as the older model is still an exceptionally good big car thanks to its impressive levels of comfort and refinement plus sixth and seventh seats big enough to transport adults and not just small children, as is often the case with many seven-seaters.

All 2015 to 2019 Q7s come with seven seats as standard apart from the plug-in hybrid models, so bear this in mind if you're looking for a seven-seater. Conveniently, the rearmost seats fold down at the touch of a button and the boot closes electronically, too, making the Q7 a practical and usable machine for transporting a full complement of passengers and luggage.

As for other standard equipment, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, climate control and sat-nav are all included, among other desirable kit. As for engines, if you want something with a bit of speed, it is best to leave entry-level diesels and aim for the more powerful version, which produces just over 270hp. This version offers stronger performance for only a small penalty in fuel consumption, so it's well worth considering. All models come with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, providing a relaxed drive and good grip, even on slippery surfaces.

AUDI Q7 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Mercedes S-Class

Best big car for luxury and refinement

Our pick Mercedes S-Class AMG Line
Used deals from £27,980
Monthly finance from £431*
Number of seats five
Boot space (seats up) 510 litres (470 litres with the optional fridge compartment)
Boot space (seats down) N/a

If the S-Class’ elegant styling and large proportions don’t cry out ‘luxury’ to you, then the plush interior, slick on-board technology and relaxed driving experience will. Whether you're driving the car yourself or being driven in an S-Class, it is a supremely comfortable experience - bumps in the road that you might notice in most other cars just simply seem to disappear.

Mercedes updated the S-Class in 2017 and if you're looking for the best all-rounders, the newer ones are the ones to have with the most up-to-date tech on offer, even if there aren’t as many available for less than £35,000. Part of the 2017 revisions included a new diesel engine - which is refined and powerful - and revised styling. Even so, pre-2016 S-Class models look very similar and the older engine is far from disappointing, so if that's all your budget can stretch to, you should be pretty happy still.

There are a surprising number of S-Class models to choose from - including those with an extended body for more legroom in the rear - but all come with an automatic gearbox and great levels of standard equipment to support the car's luxury car format. That said, some of the optional equipment is very impressive, too, such as ‘Magic Body Control’ which uses cameras to adjust the car’s suspension ready for bumps to allow the smoothest possible ride.

MERCEDES S-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer

Best big car for families

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer Feel
Used deals from £14,399
Monthly finance from £216*
Number of seats Seven
Boot space (seats up) 537 to 630 litres (depending whether the middle row of seats is slid forwards or backwards)
Boot space (seats down) 1851 litres

Yes, most of the cars on this list are big, but some are a bit big in the price tag department for many large families, too. That is where the cavernous Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer (previously known as the Grand C4 Picasso) comes in. It isn’t just affordable and big, though, it is one of the best people movers in the business, as it's designed to cater for families with impressive comfort levels, lots of storage spaces around the cabin and plenty of standard equipment

In addition to this, the Grand C4 SpaceTourer is very comfortable - unlike most of the cars on this list, the Citroen has no intention of being sporty at all, something which usually requires firmer suspension, which makes the ride more bumpy - and comes with climate control, cruise control and rear parking sensors as standard.

One of the Grand C4 SpaceTourer's biggest strengths is its range of frugal yet reasonably strong engines. There is a choice of petrol and diesel power although it is the diesel options which make more sense, offering much higher claimed fuel economy - BlueHDi 100 versions claim over 70mpg, an impressive figure in a car that will happily transport seven people. When searching for a used model, be aware that pre-2018 models are called the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, while later models are Grand C4 SpaceTourers - they are practically identical aside from the badge.

CITROEN GRAND C4 SPACETOURER 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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