Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips and Reviews

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The Top 10 Used Cars For Families Since 2010

Shoppers who are searching for a new car, used cars can become a reliable vehicle. You can use this list as a starting point for the best-rated automobiles manufactured over the past decade. To ensure that your purchase will be worthy of your monetary investment, select a make and model that was built to last.

Our top 10 choices have been derived based on data from Consumer Reports, a nonprofit organization that rates automobiles (and other consumer goods) using a variety of different factors. Reliability has been rated using 17 key areas related to durability, mechanical issues, and customer satisfaction. While certain brands appear more often than others on this list, each used car is unique and must be inspected individually to determine it’s true value and relevance to your family.

#1. Toyota 4Runner

This truck-based SUV has been given a top rating for thirteen years in a row. It hasn’t been redesigned since 2010, so a used model won’t look too much different from the newer 4runners on the market today. This mid-size SUV is perfect for families looking to have enough space to bring their kids, a friend, and sports equipment along for a road trip. Basic models are reasonably priced and should last several years if well cared for. It has excellent off-road capability for a variety of different terrains. The Toyota 4Runner offers versatile cargo configurations for a wide range of storage options that will fit any family or lifestyle.

#2. Toyota Prius

For climate-conscious families looking to save on gas, a used Toyota Prius is a good investment. It’s been given great ratings for the past 12 years, with no flaws noted since 2011. The Prius is well-liked by its owners who enjoy a quiet ride and clear visibility around the vehicle for safe driving. Although it was originally produced as a four-door sedan, the Prius has been available as a five-door liftback since as early as 2003. The Environmental Protection Agency ranks it as one of the cleanest vehicles sold in the United States. Third-generation models, produced from 2009-2015, offer several user options. Switch between Eco Mode for fuel efficiency, EV mode (low speed, electric-only operation) or Power Mode for optimized performance.

#3. Toyota Camry

Toyota continues to top the list with this fan favorite. Camrys made between 2002-2017 have earned top reliability scores among drivers. For a mid-sized sedan, it has notable cargo space and comfortable seating room. It’s considered “easy to drive,” which could make it a great training car for young teenage drivers in the family.

A light green 2011 Toyota Camry, popular among used cars, is parked in front of garage doors.

#4. Lexus ES

If you would consider buying a used luxury car, the Lexus ES from 2008 and beyond has proven itself a reliable and stylish option. The fourth (2001-2006), fifth (2006-2012) and sixth (2012-2018) generation vehicles on the used car market today have been perfected since Lexus introduced the ES originally in 1989.

#5. Toyota RAV4

This crossover SUV is a favorite choice for American families. No major issues have been reported on it since 2012. Redesigns in 2013 and 2016 were proven successful as ratings came in after the car spent some time on the market. Produced by a Canadian plant, the RAV4 uses 50% Japanese parts. It has consistently performed well with consumers and would be a great choice for any family that is shopping today.

#6. Lexus IS or the Lexus GS

Other than some minor issues noted in the 2014 model, the Lexus IS has performed well with consumers since 2010. Another great choice is the GS. Models manufactured from 2013 and beyond have top ratings and would make an excellent car choice for a smaller family with one to two children.

A white 2017 Lexus GS is parked on a mountain with a sunset behind it.

#7. Toyota Avalon

This powerhouse vehicle is famous for its ability to pile on the miles. As a used vehicle, it ranks high with mileage seen at over 200,000 miles, more often than many similar, competitor cars. If you’re looking for a used car with some serious longevity, this is an excellent choice. For families with kids going across the country to college or for those with extensive shopping lists, trust the Toyota Avalon to bring you to your destination and back without a problem.

#8. Mazda3

This compact sedan, manufactured in Japan, is a great bargain buy with consistently high ratings since 2010. The second-generation (from 2008-2013) is slightly larger than older versions, making it a comfortable choice for your next family vehicle. A 2012 update with SkyActiv powertrain gives drivers an impressive 39-40 miles per gallon on the highway. This upgrade provides responsive speed control, making it an ideal choice for safety in any driving situation. When sending young drivers out in less than ideal conditions, these features make the Mazda3 a vehicle that inspires confidence among parents. The 2019 version has sold over six million units, but used versions provide many of the same quality features for a lower upfront cost. Find it modeled as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback to suit your family’s needs.

#9. Lexus CT 200H

This Prius-based wagon was manufactured through 2017, with high ratings throughout its lifecycle. It can only be purchased used since it is no longer in production; however, past models have an excellent track record and reputation among consumers. Positives associated with this vehicle include great handling control, front-seat comfort, hatchback versatility, navigation options, and of course, fuel efficiency. The backseat can be a little tight, so it would be great for families with younger vs older children.

#10. Toyota Highlander

This mid-size crossover SUV is a perfect choice for families with two to three children. Once you have one, you won’t want to give it up. In a study by iSeeCars, the Highlander was held onto the longest by its owners. The first generation came out in the year 2000, with key safety updates introduced by the time the second-generation was introduced in 2007. Third-generation models introduced in 2013 are more extensive and longer with plenty of seating for a large family. It includes lots of high-tech safety features that parents and kids can both be excited about. Seeing as this is our sixth Toyota.

A grey 2016 Toyota Highlander, popular among most used cars, is driving on a treelined highway.

Conclusion

This list includes some suggestions that can at least get you started on the search for a used family vehicle. The research was based on the highly-rated vehicles of the past decade that provide enough room for a family of four to sit comfortably inside. If you’re interested in the extra space offered by SUVs, consider the Honda CRV, Toyota Sequoia, and Toyota Venza. These are also rated very highly by consumers for reliability, safety, and longevity, making them excellent options for any family.

Ultimately, determining the right car for your specific family will depend on your household’s unique needs. Whether you enjoy traveling long distances, value fuel economy, prefer extra legroom, or need access to several USB charging ports, you should base your decision on what will keep the peace in your household. Lots of Chevy vehicles, including the Chevy Tahoe, are popular among families and would also be an excellent choice.

All of the examples listed here would certainly be great finds on a used car lot, initially. Given the right conditions, these automobiles have a proven track record of producing satisfied drivers. With any used car, a proper inspection and Vehicle History Report review should be key determining factors in your decision to buy. Knowing the background on the specific vehicle will give you a better idea of whether it is a worthwhile purchase. A skilled mechanic, along with a reputable dealer, should ensure that you make the right choice on your next family car.

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