Need a New Car? Here are The Top 4 Affordable Cars for Families

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a red Subaru Impreza driving up the road
Photo courtesy of Subaru.com

As a full-time worker with a 25-minute commute each way, I can’t imagine being without my car. And as a mother with a toddler who refuses to nap unless we’re driving, I need my car for both rational and irrational reasons.

When I decided it was time to upgrade my tiny subcompact Mazda2 for something better suited for a bulky car seat and jogging stroller, it took a great deal of research and calculations to see what I could afford.

One factor that played a large part in my decision was how much my family car would be worth in five or 10 years — there will come a time to sell or trade in my vehicle, and the more I can get for it, the better off I’ll be in the long run.

Kelley Blue Book and ALG (Automotive Lease Guide) use hard data about current vehicles, market conditions, competition and their experts’ own experience to determine which vehicles hold their value the longest.

Using Kelley Blue Book and ALG’s awards as benchmarks, here are some of the best family vehicles for your money.  

Compact Car: Subaru Impreza (MSRP $18,495)

a red Subaru Impreza driving up the road

Photo courtesy of Subaru.com

Kelley Blue Book and ALG both named the Subaru Impreza as the “Best Compact Car.” Available as a sedan or as a hatchback, the Impreza is well suited for a small family with one or two kids.

As with the majority of Subaru vehicles, the Impreza comes with standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, which means better handling in inclement weather. Subaru is also known for its commitment to safety, which is vital when choosing a car for your family.

All Impreza models come with rearview cameras to make backing up easier, and, at higher trim levels, you can add things like blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

Compact SUV/Crossover: Honda CR-V (MSRP $24,045)

a red 2017 honda CR-V parked with a beach in the background

Photo courtesy of honda.com

The Honda CR-V has been around since 1997 and is a common sight on American roads. Kelley Blue Book named the CR-V its second pick in the Compact Crossover segment, right behind the iconic Jeep Wrangler (which is a cool car but not quite as family-friendly).

Standard features on every CR-V include a multi-angle rearview camera, LED daytime running lights, automatic climate control and Bluetooth connectivity. With the two-wheel drive version, you’ll get an EPA-estimated 32 miles per gallon on the highway, which means fewer stops at the gas station and more money in your wallet.

Full-Size Car: Toyota Avalon (MSRP $33,500)

2018 toyota avalon on the road

Photo courtesy of Toyota.com

The Avalon is the most expensive car in Toyota’s lineup, but it offers a lot for the money. Both Kelley Blue Book and ALG named the Toyota Avalon their No. 2 pick in the Full-Size Car segment. Its sheer size makes it a good choice for a larger family that doesn’t want to drive a crossover or SUV.

The Avalon can easily seat five thanks to its total 103.6 cubic feet of passenger space, which rivals some smaller crossovers and SUVs. The coolest thing about the Avalon is that all models come with standard Toyota Safety Sense P, which features a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams and dynamic radar cruise control. These high-tech safety features will help set any parent’s mind at ease.

Full-Size SUV/Crossover: Chevrolet Tahoe (MSRP $47,215)

white Chevrolet Tahoe driving down the road

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet.com

As the most expensive vehicle on this list, the Chevy Tahoe is the biggest and therefore the best suited for large families. The Tahoe was awarded first place in ALG’s awards, while it came in second on Kelley Blue Book’s list.

The Chevy Tahoe has three rows of seating and can seat up to nine. It comes standard with rear park assist, a remote starter system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a Wi-Fi hotspot. You can also fold down both rows of seating to carry up to 94.7 cubic feet of cargo — that’s a lot of stuff from your trip to Ikea.

Additionally, the Tahoe has excellent safety ratings and was named the No. 1 pick in the large SUV category by U.S. News & World Report with an 8.7 rating out of 10. The Tahoe also scored 5 out of 5 stars in frontal crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), so you can rest assured that your family is in good hands.

Consider Certified Pre-owned

USA Today reports that the average price of a new car in 2017 is up 2.6% to a whopping $33,560, meaning new car ownership can be out-of-reach for many families. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a well-paying job and relatively few expenses, a new car payment could still cost you hundreds each month.

If a brand-new car just isn’t in your budget, don’t worry — you can still get a relatively new car if you buy certified pre-owned (CPO). Most manufacturers offer a CPO program, and these cars tend to come with a multi-point inspection, warranty and have been reconditioned to be like new.

If you’re in the market for a used car, buying CPO from a dealership will give you better peace of mind than buying from some guy on Craigslist. Plus, you can often find a car that’s just a couple of years old and still contains most of the technology you’ll find in newer cars.

Safety, utility and price are the three most important factors to take into consideration when choosing a new car for your family. If these picks don’t appeal to you, take some time to check out the full lists from Kelley Blue Book and ALG and you’re sure to find something that fits both your budget and your style.

Catherine Hiles has been writing about cars for a living for more than five years. She drives a big, blue, boxy Subaru Outback wagon named The Tardis.