Family cars are a nebulous idea--what's perfect for our crew (a turbodiesel manual wagon of imported extraction) might not be ideal for yours (uh, minivan?).
Shopping for a family car--whether it's a crossover or SUV, sedan or hatchback, minivan or green machine--doesn't have to be that difficult, though. That holds true even if you're steering clear of the new-vehicle market and aiming squarely for the big values to be had among used cars. A good three-year-old used car can hold extraordinary value, while also promising years of solid service--if you make the right choices.
We've set out to help with those choices, by scanning over the best-used-car guides we've assembled this year, and by culling them for the vehicles particularly interesting for families. That means we've focused on those with pricetags of $50,000 or less when new, and removed the coupes, convertibles, and performance hardware from the equation. But as we've done in other used-car studies, we've applied some guidelines to the decision process, rules we think will lead you to a great used family-car choice.
Our list of Best Used Family Car 2013 candidates have all passed a series of tests, which including scoring:
- at least an 8.0 rating on The Car Connection's full reviews from three years ago--in this case, the 2011 model year
- at least four circles on J.D. Power's predicted-dependability rankings, or at least average reliability on Consumer Reports
- no reported score lower than four stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
After sorting the data, more than 70 vehicles make the cut--it's a wealth of choices we've separated into categories, with sedans alone meriting three different subdivisions. By the standards we've set, we've come up with the following choices as the best used family cars on the road today, with the bottom line from our 2011 review and with links to thousands of listings so you can shop today.
The 2011 Honda Odyssey remains the best-handling of the minivans, with some of the most innovative seating configurations and entertainment features, but it's also the priciest. Read more »
2011 Toyota Sienna Limited
2011 Toyota Sienna LimitedEnlarge Photo
The 2011 Toyota Sienna adds room and adult-duty second-row seats, but leaves ultimate flexibility and entertainment to the competition. Read more »