As “back to school” takes on a new meaning, parents and children around the country are getting ready for the new term.
If you live locally to school, it’s always best to walk and avoid using a car – but if you live further afield, you’ll need transport to get there.
And with many feeling unsure about the prospect of public transport due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s likely more parents will drive their kids to school this year. So what are the best cars for the school run? Here we take a look (note that all these cars come with Isofix points to fix your child seats safely).
Skoda has built a reputation for producing versatile and affordable cars that are ideal for families. Just about every car in its range would be perfect for the school run, but our choice would be the firm’s mid-size Karoq SUV, which replaced the popular Yeti at the end of 2018.
With wide-opening rear doors, loads of rear seat space and a 521-litre boot that eclipses the majority of its rivals, the Karoq is a brilliant family SUV. No hybrid models are available, so the only options are petrol and diesel. Providing you don’t do a lot of miles in your car, the 113bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine will be more than sufficient, and it’s also good on fuel – Skoda claiming it’ll return more than 50mpg. All versions also come generously equipped with features such as a touchscreen, rear parking sensors and climate control.
School runs are often short, so providing you’re able to charge easily – either at home or local public charging points – an electric car could be ideal. While these zero-emission models tend to be quite pricey and not particularly spacious outside of the expensive SUVs, one exception to the rule is the Nissan Leaf.
The Sunderland-built Leaf was one of the earliest electric cars, and helped to bring EVs into the hands of the general public thanks to affordable pricing. The first examples arrived in 2011, these typically costing from just £6,000 – but if your budget will stretch, take a look at the second-generation 2018 model. This latest car is much more practical thanks to its 435-litre boot, while also coming with a host of driver assistance technology as standard to keep you and your family safe. Thanks to a large 40kWh battery, you can expect around 170 miles from a full charge, which should be plenty for several runs to school. Expect to pay from around £18,000 for the current Nissan Leaf.
Citroen C4 Grand Picasso
While MPVs might not be as popular as they once were – due to the rise in popularity of SUVs – these versatile people carriers are often much better value and roomier, too. One such example is the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, which was renamed the Grand C4 SpaceTourer in 2018.
This funky-looking MPV looks cool, and the large HD display in the middle of the dashboard gives it a modern interior, but Citroen hasn’t forgotten about the need for practicality – this model can easily seat 7 across 3 generously sized rows. It’s also brimming with family-friendly touches, such as rear window blinds and a separate rear-view mirror that allows you to keep an eye on your kids.
While the Grand C4 Picasso has been around since 2007, we’d recommend looking for a second-generation version, which went on sale in 2015.
If you want a bit more street cred on the school run, it’s worth taking a look at Mini’s stylish Countryman crossover. It essentially offers all the style and fun of the regular 3-door Hatch, but with usable rear seats and a good-sized boot.
The Countryman first arrived in 2010 as the firm’s first high-riding model, with the second-generation version launching at the end of 2016. Both are appealing choices, but if you want something practical the later car is the one to go for – its 450-litre boot offers 100 litres more than the car it replaced. You can choose that model with a plug-in hybrid powertrain too, which offers an electric range of 26 miles, and is therefore ideal for small and emissions-free school runs.
Peugeot 308 SW
While MPVs and SUVs are known for being practical, it’s hard to knock the humble estate car when it comes to spaciousness.
One such is the Peugeot 308 SW, which features a great interior, stylish looks and one of the largest boots in the business – its 660-litre trunk is one of the largest of any estate car. It’s worth spending a bit extra on a second-generation 2014 model, which is the more practical and better-equipped choice, and is also available with a very efficient 1.6-litre diesel engine – ideal for longer trips away outside of school run duties.