What is your favorite family car?

Posted by Madison on February 25, 2008

I took the first steps and committed to selling my car. I’m ready to move from a “car I love” to a family car. Now I’m moving to the planning and research phases. I revisited my old criteria that I set in the fall and updated it to reflect our needs instead of wants. Here’s my new and improved criteria:

  • Excellent safety ratings. Toting around precious cargo (my kids) makes this my number one priority.
  • Reliable. The last thing we need is a car that needs a lot of work or will spend a lot of time at the shop. We aren’t very savvy when it comes to fixing cars.
  • Inexpensive. Cheaper than my current car (a 2005 Mercedes Benz C230) which was $22,000 in the fall; it’s probably closer to $18,000 now.
  • Good gas mileage. My commute is roughly a half hour through the city each way.
  • Handles well in the snow. It doesn’t have to be four-wheel drive, but a rear-wheel drive car here just doesn’t cut it.
  • Bigger, but not too big. Seats two adults, two car seats and stuff comfortably. Could expand to add another car seat in the future.

For the record here’s some of my old criteria that I’m willing to eliminate:

  • Low mileage. Reasonable mileage would be OK.
  • Big enough for an expanding family. Let’s face it, buying a car for four kids now probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Besides our other car is a Dodge Durango so we don’t need two huge cars!
  • Looks “cute”… I’m trying really hard to meet my financial goals, so I want to leave our options open.
  • Not a minivan. I’m a mom of two boys, so if I drive a mom car, I’m OK with it.

We’re brainstorming all the cars that fit the new criteria. Stay tuned for more articles in the car series! 

What kind of car do you drive?

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Comments to What is your favorite family car?

  1. I drive a 2003 Toyota Sienna, and I love it. It’s been super reliable, and even though I never wanted to drive a minivan, it’s nice to be able to haul the kids’ friends around.

    Lynnae @ Being Frugal.net

  2. I have a Chevy Tahoe. It is terrible on gas, but wonderful for the size, the comfort and safety. It’s 4 wheel drive which is nice since we are so rural and with 4 kids, the size is perfect. It was pricey and took a lot of saving to afford it, but it is totally worth it. I only put about 10K miles a year on it and it has 100K warranty, so I think I will be driving it for a long long time.

    Take Care



  3. I have a Ford Explorer, for many reasons, but that won’t fit your needs. I would recommend that you look at 3 cars – A Subaru Forrester, a Honda Odessy (sp?), and a Subaru Outback. These are all pretty highly recommended by regularly mechanics for reliability, they are all mid-range on gas mileage but have excellent size and safety. The Honda is probably the best of the bunch for your needs as listed here, but the Forrester is a very nice car.


  4. I love Hondas. In general with Hondas you get good mileage and super reliability. They hold their value so even buying a used one can be a little spendy. But I think the reliably makes up for that. My 2001 CRV has only had to go into the shop once because the door lock was making an odd sound. Other than that I’ve done regular maintenance and that’s it.


  5. I have a subaru outback and really like it. It gets around in the snow, is pretty good on gas milage and even with over 100K miles on it, it requires little maintenance. Honda has a great reputation too.


  6. We have a 2006 Honda CR-V, and while it’s cute and smaller, the gas mileage really isn’t that much better than the van we used to drive.

    We stepped down from a minivan to a Buick Rendezvous, which had slightly better gas mileage for nearly the same amount of previously used space.

    We wanted better gas mileage, so we stepped down from that to the CR-V. We don’t have near the space or luxury as we did in the Rendezvous, but we spend nearly as much on gas. If it weren’t for the fact that Hondas last forever, we’d probably go back to another Buick.


  7. I second Marsha, I love anything Honda, though Toyota is a very close second. We have a Honda Odyssey minivan and love it. We bought it new and it has been a fabulous vehicle. We will have it paid off this time next year (3 years). We plan to keep it for 10 years or more, depending on how things go with some other projects I have in the works.


  8. Couldn’t agree more about the minivan. I don’t really “like” them but for practical vehicles they are pretty awesome.

    We have a relatively ‘cool’ Jeep Liberty but I think the next machine will be a minivan…


    Four Pillars

  9. I’m starting to sense a theme here…. Hondas seem to be very popular with families! I know the Honda Odyssey is ranked very high in the lists we looked at. I’ll check out the others that you have all listed here. Thanks for pointing us in the right direction.


  10. Do NOT get a mini van. Just imagine yourself putting in the car seats, and kids. They are lacking doors on both sides, which you will need for car seats, if you have more than one kid. Hondas are great cars, I agree.

    Lost Cause

  11. We recently bought our second Toyota Tacoma Prerunner. I love that truck, it has 5 seatbelts, sits up high and handles like a dream. Toyotas keep up resale value better than any truck we have found. We are out of the minivan stage and didn’t want something as a big as a surburan.

    My DH’s last Tacoma had 265,000 miles on it when it was totaled in a wreck.

    The new ones are probably 18,000. But we buy used so we didn’t pay anywhere near that amount. If you find one used buy it.

    Oh and it has 4 doors a big plus!


  12. We’re having our third child in Sept. and have been considering a minivan but my husband doesn’t want to have to buy another car so we’re going to try to squeeze all three kids in our sedans. We’ll see how that works!


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