Suburban cars

Live in the suburbs and spend your time travelling between town centre and countryside? Check out the cars best suited to suburban life

James Wilson
Nov 29, 2021

Suburban cars have a tough life. They have to be comfortable while driving on some of the most potholed and congested roads in town. Not only that but they often need to be practical enough for families - often including pets and children - and have enough luggage capacity to cart around all manner of equipment for weekend hobbies.

They also need to be relatively economical, so you don't end up out of pocket with huge fuel bills. This can be easier said than done, as cars are often at their least economical when driven in stop/start traffic and at the lower speeds typically encountered during suburban driving. Fear not, though; there are a number of great value family-friendly options, which should work perfectly in the suburbs.

In reality, a wide range of cars is suited to suburban life. Some perform well in specific areas, such as the Hyundai Kona Electric, which is very easy to drive at low speeds and the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer provides buckets of cabin space for up to seven people, taking the stress out of local trips with friends on board. With most of the models below, there are petrol and diesel versions available, but it is worth noting that some local authorities are trying to move drivers away from older diesel models with additional charges. To find out more, read our guide on whether or not a diesel car is right for you.

Below are eight models that should prove excellent vehicles for tackling suburban roads. They range in shape and size but are all available to order online now, with second-hand versions available from around £10,000 to £35,000, although prices vary depending on the age of car you are looking at. Meanwhile, if you're planning to take PCP finance, expect monthly payments to come in at around £175* to £500*.

Best suburban cars

1. Volkswagen Tiguan

Used deals from £11,250
Monthly finance from £291*

The Volkswagen Tiguan is a family-friendly SUV that looks like an off-roader and offers a high driving position, but is still easy to drive and relatively affordable. The interior feels well built and robust and the media system is intuitive to use - the last thing you need when tackling busy suburban roads is being distracted by the car when you try to change the radio or turn the heating down.

Additionally, the Tiguan is available with a range of great engines. VW also makes a high-performance 'R' version of the Tiguan, but unless you can put up with the high fuel bills and steep initial price, we’d recommend sticking to a less powerful petrol or diesel model. Most Tiguans have seating for five although there is a seven-seater version, called the Tiguan Allspace. The rearmost seats in this are best suited to children, as adults might struggle for leg and headroom if they are on the taller side.


2. Mercedes C-Class

Used deals from £8,499
Monthly finance from £344*

Mercedes is a maker of expensive cars and not only does the C-Class look like a quality product but it feels like one too - the interior is full of upmarket materials and attractively designed elements, such as the glitzy air vents. We’d recommend models made after mid-2018 as these came with sharper media system graphics. If slick digital displays aren't a priority for you, though, older models are very well rounded cars and more affordable.

Those who regularly navigate winding suburban roads will appreciate the more compact dimensions of the C-Class compared to the larger E-Class. If you aren’t a fan of this Mercedes, rivals such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Jaguar XE are all similar in size, so could be worth investigating. Of the engines and gearboxes available, we would recommend a diesel with an automatic gearbox as this combination makes for a relaxed driving experience and should be relatively economical, too.


3. Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer

Used deals from £6,200
Monthly finance from £0*

In the Vauxhall dictionary, ‘Sports Tourer’ means an estate car. So the Astra Sports Tourer is effectively an Astra with a bigger boot than regular hatchback models. This makes the Sports Tourer especially well suited to people who have a lot of things to move. This could be anything from a large dog, to inflatable paddle boards and a mammoth picnic basket. For context, the boot of the Sports Tourer can handle up to a substantial 540 litres of luggage, whereas the hatchback Astra only has a 370-litre boot.

Happily, despite the larger boot, the Astra estate is far from a huge car. Compared to something like the Ford Mondeo Estate or Peugeot 508 SW, the Vauxhall takes up a much smaller footprint. Finally, Vauxhall was one of the first companies to make sure its diesel engines were compliant with something called ‘RDE2’ which means company car drivers are saved from a levy placed on high-polluting diesels and road tax is less per year.


4. Hyundai Kona Electric

Used deals Limited stock

The Kona Electric is a fully electric car that treads the line between funky design and practicality very well. We say ‘funky design’, as the exterior will no doubt split opinions but then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Inside things are less Marmite, with plenty of black and silver materials used throughout to give an upmarket vibe. Overall, the quality inside isn’t as good as an equivalent Audi, for instance, but the main parts you touch and use when driving - such as the steering wheel - all feel good quality.

Being electric, all Hyundai Kona Electric models come with an automatic gearbox, so there is no need to worry about gear changes or fitting in trips to the petrol station. Provided you can plug in at home, the Hyundai’s 300-mile range from a full charge (for 64kWh versions) should be more than long enough to suit suburban life very well. Even more so if you have to commute into city centres where there are taxes charged on petrol and diesel cars, such as in London’s ULEZ.


5. Skoda Octavia

Used deals from £7,490
Monthly finance from £487*

If you need a no-nonsense practical family car that will stand up to being used and abused by the kids, in-laws, family friends and anyone else who you occasionally give a lift to, then the Skoda Octavia is a great option. This is because Skoda is part of the same company as Volkswagen, so the Octavia uses many of the same parts - such as engines and media systems - but is larger and cheaper than the equivalent VW Golf or Audi A3.

There are estate and hatchback versions of the Octavia, although the hatchback is longer and more streamlined than hatchbacks like the Ford Focus and VW Golf, as the roofline slopes down towards the rear bumper quite a lot. All versions of the Octavia are very practical, though, and there is plenty of space in the rear for adult passengers. If you like your cars to be speedy, then take a look at a vRS models (pictured above), as these are the fastest in the Octavia range.



6. Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40 front three quarters view

Used deals from £19,300
Monthly finance from £419*

Volvo has maintained a reputation for building safe cars for decades and the XC40 is no exception. The XC40 is one of its newest models and is the smallest SUV in the Swedish car maker’s lineup. It scored a full five stars out of five in crash safety tests carried out by industry experts Euro NCAP. Importantly for suburban drivers, the XC40 scored 87% for child occupant protection and 71% for vulnerable road user protection - so it should keep both people in the car and those around you safe.

Moving away from safety, the XC40 is a stylish small SUV - especially in higher-spec R-Design trim, which adds a sporty feel. Volvo engineers its cars to be comfortable cruisers rather than sporty machines to take out for a drive at the weekend, and for family drivers this makes perfect sense, with the cabin proving particularly comfy and welcoming.


7. Toyota Corolla

Used deals from £14,650
Monthly finance from £0*

The latest Corolla has been a revelation for Toyota. It comes with great build quality, the ride is comfortable and the handling around corners is surprisingly good. What’s more, the Corolla is built in the UK which supports UK jobs. There are petrol and hybrid versions of the Corolla but petrol power is no longer available to order new from Toyota. We would recommend the hybrid anyway thanks to its superior running costs and more refined driving experience thanks to a standard-fit automatic gearbox.

The Corolla's cabin is a nice place to be, with the controls and instruments being logically laid out and relatively intuitive to use. The media system isn’t as slick as what you will find in something like the Mercedes A-Class, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring is available on all models, which somewhat compensates for this. Of the models available, it's worth aiming for ‘Icon’ variants if your budget is tight, as these offer a good blend of equipment and value. If money is less of an object, then racy-looking ‘GR Sport’ versions are worth considering.


8. Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer

Used deals from £15,151
Monthly finance from £0*

The problem with a lot of seven-seater cars is that they are huge - regardless of how spacious they are inside - and not just in one direction; in height, width and length. This is where the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer comes in. It is a relatively short and narrow people carrier, but it still offers an impressive amount of room across all three rows of seats. As a result, it is much more suited to suburban life than big seven-seater SUVs such as the Land Rover Discovery, which often much bigger inside.

Citroen also makes some of the most economical petrol and diesel engines on the market, so running costs for a Grand C4 SpaceTourer should be relatively low for a car of this size. Of the trims available, we’d suggest looking for Flair or Flair Plus versions as these look relatively stylish from the outside and come with a good helping of equipment. If the SpaceTourer is over your budget, keep an eye out for Citroen Grand C4 Picasso models as these are the same car, only older, more affordable and with a different name.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 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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