Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A popular used family car, a red 2021 Honda Accord, is parked on a covered wooden bridge.

Best Used Family Cars – Emphasis on “Cars”

There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes, and kids are expensive. When it comes to finding your family’s perfect new ride, you want something comfortable, safe, and affordable. Most new vehicles depreciate between 20 – 30 % in their first year off the lot, so it makes sense that you may want to look at used family cars when it’s time for an upgrade. From sedans to minivans to SUVs, there’s a whole slew of choices for carrying your crew at affordable prices. Now, it’s no secret that cars, in general, are no longer everyone’s favorite family car. SUVs currently make up 70% of the new car market, with midsize sedans coming in at barely 10%. But if you’re not trying to haul around the whole t-ball team, there is absolutely no reason not to consider a classic sedan. They can be just as roomy as a crossover with better fuel efficiency and easier maneuvering in tight parking lots. Read on for some of the best non-SUVs in the family car biz, sedans that provide comfort while still holding up well over the years.


One great example of a family sedan is the Toyota Camry. The Camry has placed #1 for multiple years on U.S. News & World Report’s Most Affordable Midsize Cars list thanks in part to its great predictability and reliability rating. With EPA-estimated MPG figures of up to 28 city/39 highway, the Camry combines SUV-like interior space with much greater fuel efficiency. Believe it or not, the latest Camry, a Toyota staple since 1982, has more passenger space – handy for both car seats and growing teens – than the latest Toyota RAV4 compact SUV. And that doesn’t include the generous trunk space, which allows for everything from golf clubs plus hockey gear to five medium-sized suitcases, taking your family from the school week to a weekend road trip with ease.

When you’re looking at a used Camry, it’s worth noting that the 2018 model year introduced additional safety features. Toyota Safety Sense is standard on all 2018 models and up. This package includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Automatic High Beams. The Camry also places high on Kelley Blue Book’s resale value lists, meaning you’re sure to find a used Camry that will last your family for years.

While you’re looking at Toyota sedans, it’s also worth checking out the full-size Avalon. This car comes with extra inches of legroom and even more trunk space when compared to the Camry. And while most used Camrys have a 4-cylinder engine, the Avalon comes standard with the Camry’s optional V6. The smaller Camry is more fuel-efficient, naturally, but the Avalon is still an efficient choice in comparison to most SUVs. When it comes to bells and whistles, the Avalon comes with a higher level of features approaching those of a luxury sedan. However, all these perks do mean that a used Avalon will cost more than a used Camry of similar age and condition.

Happy Honda Days

The Honda Accord is another excellent midsize family sedan. It has been named a Car & Driver 10Best pick no fewer than 35 times, with 23 years consecutively in the top spot. While the Accord did get an upgrade for the 2021 model year, as one of America’s best-selling cars for 44 years, there is no lack of quality used Accords in the market. The fastback design of recent model years, with one sloping line from roof to trunk, means that even taller kids will find themselves comfortable in the back seat – and you’ll have a better view of your blind spots when changing lanes.

As additional safety perks, you’ll first find the Honda Sensing safety package on many used models, beginning with the higher trim levels of the 2016 Accord. This package can include Lane Departure Warning, a Lane Keeping Assist System, a Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, a Forward Collision Warning, and a Collision Mitigation Braking System. These technologies as a whole aren’t always found on used mass-market, non-luxury sedans.

A close up shows the EyeSight camera next to the rear view mirror in a 2021 Subaru Legacy.

Share the Love

Not to be outdone by its Japanese-bred, American-built compatriots, the midsize Subaru Legacy is another worthy mention in the family car game. One reason a used Legacy stands out from the pack is because it has had all-wheel drive standard since 1996. If you live in an area where extreme weather is the norm, the Legacy will give you SUV-like performance without the higher cost and inferior fuel economy of those larger vehicles. However, the Legacy is not a one-trick pony. Rear seating and trunk space are easily comparable with its peers, making it a comfortable and versatile family vehicle.

Upper trim levels of the 2015 Legacy introduced Subaru EyeSight, a safety package that has evolved over the years and now includes Blind Spot Detection, High Beam Assist, Reverse Automatic Braking, and more. The 2018 Legacy even has steering responsive LED headlights that move with the steering wheel to light up corners that much better. The 2018 Legacy redesign also includes a revised chassis for better handling and more responsive brakes – all the reasons why a sedan is more fun to drive than a top-heavy crossover built on the same size frame. From 2018 on, the Legacy also has more aerodynamic mirrors, insulated windows, and thicker rear wheel well aprons, all of which add to that quieter ride so your family can better have conversations about your days on the way home from school.

Among Subaru’s awards, Kelley Blue Book has named Subaru the Best Overall Brand for three years now, and J.D. Power & Associates has found that Subaru is #1 for Brand Loyalty. Subaru is also ranked #1 in Vehicle Safety by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Not to mention, Experion says that 97% of all Subarus sold in the past decade are still on the road. With all of these awards attesting to Subaru’s safety and reliability, you can trust that a used Legacy is going to keep your family moving from kindergarten to college.

A red 2017 Ford Fusion is shown driving over a steel bridge.

Ford Proud

Ford may have phased out new sedans in 2020, but a used Ford Fusion is still a great family car for drivers looking for an all-American model. You will the Fusion is also more a bit fun to drive than your average sedan, with plenty of configurations to choose from. You can even find all-wheel drive, hybrid, and performance models to get the exact used car that fits your needs, from challenging bad weather to keeping your gas bill low. Driver assistance features on the later versions of the Fusion include Ford’s Co-Pilot360 safety package. This bundle includes a Lane-Keeping System, a Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, and more.

Ford is Detroit. When you buy a Ford, you’re buying the vision of American car manufacturing. In addition, Ford Fusion owners rated their rides highly in J.D. Power & Associates surveys when it came to quality and reliability. The Fusion has also even been named MotorWeek’s Drivers’ Choice Best Family Sedan and ranked #4 in U.S. News & World Report’s list of affordable midsize cars. When you buy a Ford, you can count on reliable and innovative engineering at affordable prices.

Zippity Doo Dah

Crossovers and SUVs are all the rage. But if you’re going to drive a crossover that’s built on a sedan base, why not just have a sedan? If you’re looking for an affordable family vehicle, why choose an SUV with lower gas mileage and pay more at the pump? The popularity of SUVs means that there are even more good deals on used family cars right now.

When you have long-time best-selling cars like the Accord and Camry with more passenger space than their crossover counterparts and award winners like the Legacy and Fusion with all-wheel drive, it’s worth looking at a lower-slung option. With their better handling on twisty roads and better acceleration on the highway, thanks to their lower center of gravity and lighter weight, sedans have all the fun of driving and a surprising amount of room for your family and all their gear. Don’t overlook the humble sedan when looking for your next used family car.