I could definitely use some insight. Here’s my basic situation.
My wife and I just found out we’re pregnant with our first child (not public info, so no congrats on Twitter please…), so we’re looking to upgrade to a car that will offer necessary trunk space for stroller/pack-and-play/baby stuff and become our regular family car. My wife will drive it to work during the days, however, and her commute is only three miles each way, so it’s not going to get a ton of mileage. I’d estimate probably 10,000 miles per year, and since it’s not going to be heavily used, we’re not looking for a $20,000+ car. We’d rather put our money into other places than to have a nice car that is parked for 23 1/2 hours per day.
Ideally, we’d like to spend between $10,000 to $15,000, which is why we’re almost certainly looking for a lower mileage used car. The wife originally started out wanting a CUV, but it seems like we’d have to go high mileage in order to get a new-ish (2007 or newer is the goal) crossover, so we then shifted down towards wagons. Unfortunately, it seems like the wagon has been replaced by the CUV in most cases, and ones like the Jetta SportWagen and Subaru Outback are out of our price range. So, lately, we’ve been focusing on things like the Kia Rondo, but it’s frankly a little ugly and I might have a hard time selling my wife on $13,000 for a car that looks like a minivan.
So, I guess the most helpful information I could ask for are whether you have any recommendations for cars that I might not have thought of as good family values with enough trunk space for all the stuff kids require. MPG isn’t the factor for us that it is for most since we have such a short commute, so we care more about maintenance issues than gas prices. I have a 2002 Mazda Protege5 at the moment and and a general love for hatchbacks, so I’m drawn towards cars like that, but if there’s a good mid-size or full-size sedan with a huge trunk we’re open to that as well.
Steve Says: First of all, congratulations! The world that you know of will soon cease to exist…. which is a good thing… in most ways.
Upgrading your ride pretty much comes down to a simple question.
“Will we someday have another kid? Or two?”
If you are planning on having a larger family, and have the means to purchase another vehicle without going into debt, then now wouldn’t be a bad time to pursue the search.
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the ‘family car’. Since you want a bit of heft without the visual blimpiness of a minivan, my recommendation is to look more towards a full-sized sedan. CUV’s tend to have a stiffer price premium these days and are far more common as finance vehicles in the used car markets.
Full-sized sedans don’t have the extra expense of being fashionable and to be blunt, they are usually a better choice for most folks. They offer loads of trunk space, excellent safety, respectable fuel economy, and the maintenance for these vehicles tend to be lower as well.
My top choices would be a five year old…
- Ford Five Hundred / Mercury Montego (Six-speed automatic)
- Hyundai Azera
- Buick Lucerne (V6)
You may notice that none of these top pics are especially popular vehicles. But they all do an exceptional job of carrying forth the family progeny in plenty of comfort and safety with fuel economy that is superior to most SUV/CUV wanna-be’s. They all cost less in the used car market, and offer tried and true powertrains that will last for the long haul with minimal fuss.
This is the market niche that will offer the greatest bang for the buck if you plan on having another child in the near-term future.
If you only plan on a family of three, then just get whatever makes you happy within reason. My wife rode around town in a late-90’s Escort back when we had one child without any problems. The stroller fit fine and the vehicle had good safety ratings for that era. Once we had two, it was minivan time for a few years. Then she slimmed down to a four-door Civic and has now settled for a Malibu Maxx.
New parents always overestimate the size of their automotive needs. Looking back on all our purchases, it would have made more sense to have simply pruchased a full-sized car and keep one small car for the solo errands and commutes. That is exactly what we ended up doing in the end.
All the best to you and yours! Good luck!