Top 10 Family Vehicles for Under $30,000

Top 10 Family Vehicles for Under $30,000

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#10 – 2012 Kia Sorento

Now the darling of suburbia, the 2012 Kia Sorento delivers uplevel content, at discount prices. Just like the Blue Light Sale at Kmart, you can load the family truckster with all manner of expensive-looking stuff, for not a lotta dough. A full glass roof, $7.99. Heated & Cooled drivers seat, $12.99. All-Wheel Drive with diff-lock, $4.99. It’s truly amazing how much you can get for the price. A gas-sipping entry level 2012 Kia Sorento starts at $22k, while the AWD V6 2012 Kia Sorento EX costs around $26k. For the money, you’re not going to do better.

Sure, the engines aren’t as smooth as a Honda’s. And the third row seat is only suitable for small children…who are being punished. But the 2012 Kia Sorento gets around all of that with its Blue Light Prices, and a ridiculously long warranty. Plus, it looks pretty darn cool too.

#9 – 2012 Kia Sedona

If you care about style and panache, then don’t even waste your time reading this. The 2012 Kia Sedona is about as stylish as a saltine cracker, and it has all the street-cred of orthopedic shoes with velcro straps. But if you like bang-for-your-buck practicality, and…coupons, then have we got a minivan for you!

$25-Grand buys you a gutsy 271-hp V6, and all of the equipment that a busy family would need. For $29k, the 2012 Kia Sedona EX gives you the moon, power doors, and a backup camera. Or, you could buy the cheaper 2012 Kia Sedona LX, and buy the EX’s features in ‘bundles’. Either way, your accountant will be very pleased.

#8 – 2012 Ford Focus

‘Small is the new Big’. At least, that seems to be the case anyway. In years past, small cars were as luxurious as a metal folding chair. The 2012 Ford Focus however, gives you the impression that you make a lot more money, than you actually do. It’s not as big as a Camry, but it feels just as well put together. And there’s plenty of room in the 2012 Ford Focus Hatchback for a young family.

For just $21k, you can get a 2012 Ford Focus SEL with such niceties as one-touch power windows, fancy-colored ambient lighting, and an 8-inch touchscreen with the MyFord Touch system. There’s 23 cu-ft of trunk space, and 44 cu-ft with the seats folded. Plus, the 2012 Ford Focus is actually pretty fun to drive too. No wonder this is one of Europe’s most popular family cars.

#7 – 2012 Honda Fit

Alright, you’re probably wondering how a subcompact made it onto a ‘family car’ list. And the truth is, it almost didn’t. What saved the 2012 Honda Fit from list banishment is its ability to transport lots of people and lots of stuff. 5 full-grown passengers, check. 57 cu-ft of ‘stuff’, check. Unique cargo configurations and reclining rear seats, check. It’s amazing how a car this small, can offer nearly the same amount of room as a CUV.

$15k buys you power everything, iPod/Blueteeth connectivity, and room for the whole family. $17k buys you the 2012 Honda Fit Sport with sportier trim, navigation, and a sport-tuned suspension that’ll turn this humble little city car into a 4-door skate board. If you’ve got an open mind, and a tight budget, this is the family car for you.

#6 – 2012 Honda Accord

Long considered the measuring stick for other family sedans, the 2012 Honda Accord proves that it’s still got what it takes to be a leader. For a starting price of $21k, you get a massive interior, a 34 mpg 4-cyl, and excellent resale value. Spend a little more coin, and you can get all the toys that your little heart desires. While the current Honda Accord may lack the buttoned-down athleticism that we’ve come to expect from Honda’s alpha car, it still offers everything that an American family needs in a car.

#5 – 2012 Kia Optima

Once upon a time, Kia was the styrofoam cup of the car world. It held liquid in a manageable cylindrical shape, and it usually wound up in a trash can 30 minutes later. Only people with a bus pass aspired to own a Kia. And then, they created this car…

The 2012 Kia Optima was styled by an Audi designer, and can be kitted with everything from a full-glass roof, to a potent 274-hp turbo-4. If gas mileage is a concern, the $25k 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid provides adequate driving dynamics, and 37 average MPG. Plus, every 2012 Kia Optima comes with Kia’s ridiculously long warranty.

Good looks, pleasant road manners, and gobs of value. The 2012 Kia Optima is a bang-for-the-buck family car that you can’t ignore.

#4 – 2012 Mazda mazda3

Okay, if you haven’t figured out by now, this list is populated with practical cars. Some are stylish, some are fun to drive, but the key feature in all of these cars is practicality. The 2012 Mazda mazda3 is by no means stylish. But it is great fun to drive, and the 2012 Mazda 3 Hatchback has plenty of room for dogs, toys, watermelons, or whatever.

What differentiates the 2012 Mazda mazda3 from other family friendly compacts is its rather brilliant mechanical approach to fuel economy. Instead of an intrusive start/stop function, or sleep inductive Eco Modes, the 2012 Mazda 3i ($20k) Skyactiv uses a low-friction, high compression 2.0 liter motor that achieves 28/40/33 miles to the gallon. If you want more zip, the 2012 Mazda 3s ($22k) uses a 167-hp 2.5 liter motor, and more aggressive suspension tuning. Either way you go, the 2012 Mazda mazda3 is a fun little family car, that’s cheap on gas.

#3 – 2012 Subaru Forester

Unlike most small crossovers, the 2012 Subaru Forester is designed to function like an actual Sport Utility Vehicle. To that end, there’s 8.7 inches of ground clearance, standard All-Wheel Drive, and an easy to clean interior. But what makes the 2012 Subaru Forester really appealing is its sure-footed driving demeanor, and legendarily reliable ‘Boxer’ engine. It’s not fast, but it dispatches corners, and snow drifts like a 911 operator in Compton. And it’s relatively cheap too. $20k is the starting price, and $29k gets you a great big turbo, and a lot more power.

#2 – 2012 Subaru Outback

On paper, this tall off-road wagon shouldn’t be the best-seller that it is. 8.7 inches of ground clearance, All-Wheel Drive, butch styling. But that combination makes this big wagon capable of handling some seriously dicey terrain, while transporting the kids, the dog, your son’s tuba, and the neighbor’s snow blower. In some parts of the country (see: Snowbelt), the 2012 Subaru Outback has more panache than an Escalade. And with a starting price of just $23, you might be able to afford your own snowblower.

#1 – 2012 VW Jetta

Although the 2012 VW Jetta isn’t quite a teutonic luxury capsule, this new car still excels in many ways. It’s a lot bigger than the old German-Built Jetta (the 2012 VW Jetta is Made in U.S.A.), it’s cheaper (base price is around $15,500), and it looks fantastic. The interior doesn’t have that traditional luxury feel that most Jetta buyers have come to expect, but that’s okay. This is still a great car, and the 2012 VW Jetta TDI ($23k) gets 42 MPG. Plus, the diesel will surely retain its resale value.