Are you planning on buying a new family car? Want one that will be economical and not expensive to buy? The continuing march of technology means that car manufacturers are building cars capable of eking more distance ever out of every precious liter of fuel. For anyone running a 10-year old car, the economy achieved by the latest generation of family cars will be truly mind-blowing.

The good news is that none of these cars are microscopically small and offer plenty of room in the front and rear for luggage and people. The choice of family cars is wider and more varied than ever, with a greater flow of technology and efficiency available – but finding the correct family-friendly motor for your specific needs can still be tricky, especially if you’re on a strict budget.

Just how economical are these cars in the real world?

The fuel economy figures are the official Combined results quoted by all car manufacturers. Until a couple of years ago, these didn’t really reflect what you’d expect to return on the road, but the testing procedure changed – meaning that these official figures are far more ‘real world’ than they used to be. These five cars are inexpensive to buy, or finance will easily deliver more than 60mpg and easily accommodate four or five occupants.

With a choice of petrol, diesel, and hybrids, there really is a car for everyone. So, once you value your car online, here is a list of the most economical family cars to buy now.

Volkswagen Golf

The eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf might look like a gentle evolution of the old one, but under its same-again skin is an abundance of high-technology solutions to save fuel and lower emissions. There are clever petrol engines, some of which come with a new mild-hybrid system that allows the car to the coast at speed while electrically assisting acceleration.

However, the fuel economy star is the clever new 2.0-liter diesel version, which delivers 67.3mpg and low CO2 emissions. The least powerful diesel Golf might be a fleet favorite; family car buyers looking for a car that will go further on a tankful, then look no further than this car. In real-world gentle driving, more than 70mpg is possible.

Renault Clio

The award-winning Renault Clio impresses with its style and high-quality, user-friendly interior. Still, this big-booted hatchback also matches the Volkswagen Golf as the most economical car you can buy today. The dCi 90 model delivers an impressive 67.3mpg Combined fuel consumption figure – or another easy 70mpg in real-world gentle driving.

If diesel isn’t your thing, there’s also the new E-Tech hybrid version of the Clio, which delivers an almost as impressive 64mpg. The new hybrid is quicker and smoother than the diesel and will beat it in cost per mile thanks to petrol being cheaper at the pumps.

Hyundai Ioniq

The Hyundai Ioniq is unusual for being available as an electric car, a plug-in hybrid, and this one – the standard petrol hybrid. The Ioniq is roomy, smooth-riding, and refined – and being a hybrid, it’s powered by a petrol engine and an electric motor boosted by a small battery pack. The upshot is that it’s easy to drive and delivers an impressive 62.8mpg – all at a price that’s usefully lower than its closest rival, the Toyota Prius.

It’s usefully larger than the other cars in this list, offering plenty of room in the rear for passengers and a 443-liter boot. Couple that with decent Hyundai finance and a five-year warranty, and you’re looking at a very tempting package.

Honda Jazz

The latest Honda Jazz makes a great impression of Doctor Who’s Tardis – it comes in a compact package and offers acres of interior space for the whole family. The new only comes with one engine option – a petrol hybrid, and it’s supremely economical, returning 62.8mpg combined. The Jazz is easy to drive, packed with technology, and has an impressive reputation for reliability.

For those who like a higher, SUV-like driving position, there’s also a Crosstar version, which has been styled with plenty of crossover attitude. It’s small enough to maneuver and park easily, yet versatile in the size and shape of items it can carry on the inside.

Ford Focus

If you want your economical family car to have sharp steering and brilliant handling, you can do worse than look at the Ford Focus. This bestselling hatchback and the estate are known for their excellent performance, but it’s also packed with fuel-saving tech, especially the excellent EcoBoost petrol engines. But if getting the maximum fuel economy is what you’re after, you’re going to need an EcoBlue diesel, which 62.8mpg Combined and an easy 65mpg-plus on the motorway.

What’s the takeaway?

There are lots of family cars out there and some exceptional ones. But if you’re looking to minimize the amount of money you spend on fuel, these cars will certainly step up to the mark, costing a reasonable amount to fuel and going a long way for your money – choose any of these with confidence.