We have a few favorite picks for small families. In our Lifestyle Buying Guide we named the 2009 Subaru Forester the Best New Car for Small Families. The 2009 Mazda5 earned our Best Deal for Small Families pick; both choices are explained below.
Choosing the right car will partly depend on how much stuff needs to be carried around. It’s possible for some families with two kids to go straight for a minivan because of all the space they need for strollers, accessories and toys. For larger families we have our favorites, found here. Also, families with less stuff may be able to make do with a spacious sedan instead of SUV or minivan.
2009 Subaru Forester, Best New Car for Small Families
Starting MSRP $19,995
With great visibility and a boxy cargo area, the Forester is one of the more practical small crossovers on the market. With its 2009 redesign, Subaru moved the once-quirky five-seater closer to the mainstream with the sort of congenial styling a Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V owner could appreciate. The second row now has room for adults or teenagers, and conveniences like a flip-out storage console and push-button reclining backrests should keep them happy, or at least quiet. Throw in top crash-test ratings, a reasonably fuel-efficient four-cylinder and a sub-$20,000 starting price — with standard AWD — and the Forester presents a terrific small-family value.
2009 Mazda Mazda5, Best Deal for Small Families
Starting MSRP $17,995
If you're looking for an affordable car that can meet a number of family needs, like hauling the kids to school and carrying the dog to the vet, the Mazda5 is a good choice. It provides the functionality you need in a compact package that, at least for a van, is easy on gas; it gets an EPA-estimated 22/28 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission. There's seating for six in three rows, but if you need room to carry all the stuff that comes with a family, you can fold the second and third rows flat to create 89.3 cubic feet of total cargo room. When you factor in the low $17,995 starting price, it's easy to see why the Mazda5 is our value pick for small families.
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