According to the law, children must use a car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.
Most 5-seater cars are perfectly fine for transporting 3 children after they’ve reached this point, but 3 child car seats plus prams, toys, books and bags is another story.
You should look at cars that have the most Isofix mounting points – Isofix being the international standard for quickly and safely installing child seats to your car. For more on child seats, click here.
So what are the cars that are best-suited to seating 3 young children? Here we take a look.
The Q7 is Audi’s largest family car, a big SUV with 7 seats. As you’d expect there’s plenty of space inside with 6 Isofix child seat mounting points This means that 3 child car seats can fit comfortably and securely in the middle row of the Q7 – and you can fold down the rear row for extra boot space if needed.
A new Q7 will cost you nearly £60,000, so this certainly isn’t the most affordable of family cars. However, the used market can offer some surprisingly low prices.. The earliest first-generation Q7s are available from as little as £5,000, but the latest 2015 second-generation models are a much better option, though will set you back around £25,000. With a smooth 3.0-litre diesel automatic under the bonnet, the power delivery is seamless, while this engine is more efficient than you might expect – Audi claims it’ll return 45mpg. Just be aware that annual car tax will be quite expensive. There’s also an e-tron plug-in hybrid, but this isn’t available with a third row of seats.
While SUVs might have taken some sales from MPVs, these people carriers are still hard to beat when it comes to roominess. Take the Seat Alhambra, which has 3 Isofix points in the middle row – making it an ideal large family car. The third set of seats are impressively roomy for adults, too.
While there have been 2 generations of the Seat Alhambra, and the practically-identical Volkswagen Sharan, it’s the later car that debuted in 2011 that’s the one to go for. The 2.0-litre diesel you’ll find under the bonnet of most examples is surprisingly efficient for such a big car – returning around 50mpg. It’s also the only car on this list that features handy sliding rear doors that are ideal in car parks, which could slide electronically as an optional extra.
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
Citroen’s Picasso and now SpaceTourer models are well-known for being great family cars, and the C4 Grand Picasso (or from 2018, the C4 Grand SpaceTourer) is truly excellent. It’s another 7-seater, and thanks to individual rear seats in the second row, you can fit 3 child seats in with relative ease. Even with 7 seats in place, this Citroen still offers a good-sized boot.
Other touches – such as rear sunblinds and an additional rear-view mirror to check on the children in the back – cement this as one of the best family cars available today. It’s also available with an ultra-efficient 1.6-litre diesel engine, which returns 74mpg, with CO2 emissions below 100g/km. Look out for the more stylish second-generation car that arrived in 2014, which still represents great value, with prices starting from just £6,000.
It might seem that to benefit from 3 Isofix child mounting points, you need to have a large 7-seater – but that’s far from the case. A number of smaller cars come with Isofix points on the front passenger seat, though it does mean you have to sacrifice that front seat for an adult. It’s also worth noting that if it’s a rear-facing seat in the front, the passenger airbag must be deactivated by law.
This is possible in the Audi A3, making this is an ideal family hatchback, for those who don’t want anything too bulky. The third-generation A3, sold between 2013 and 2020, is our pick, benefitting from an upmarket interior and a range of efficient diesel engines if you want to keep your fuel bills down. And no need to worry about storage space, either – the A3 has a good-sized boot.
Skoda’s largest Kodiaq SUV is one of the best 7-seaters in the business. The Czech manufacturer has built a reputation for affordable and practical models that are fantastic for families, and the Kodiaq is no exception.
The Kodiaq was Skoda’s first 7-seater, so it’s not surprising that this model can easily accommodate 3 child seats in the second row. The interior is incredibly roomy throughout, and benefits from small touches such as umbrellas in the doors and a parcel shelf the hides beneath the floor. Add into that the fact the Kodiaq’s cabin is brilliantly built and the car itself looks the part and this is an enormously appealing option. Just be aware that not every Kodiaq features 7 seats, so make sure you’re buying the right model if you need that extra third row.