8 Safest Family Cars Under $25,000

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) publishes a list of vehicles that achieve the highest safety ratings each year. However, not all of them are affordable for a family on a budget. Here are eight that have a starting MSRP under $25,000.

If you are not looking for a new car, there is choices from previous years available so you can make an informed selection when buying a used car. It will help keep you well under the cost of a new car and prevent you from losing a lot to depreciation.

It is also important to note that new cars are quite expensive due to a continued shortage of semiconductors. Although these vehicles have a lower starting MSRP than others on the market, any additional features or a more luxurious finish will quickly drive up the price.

1. 2022 Mazda 3 — $20,800 to $22,750

The sedan and hatchback versions of the 2022 Mazda 3 are both ranked among the best for safety. They each score top marks in all categories except for the driver’s torso and headlight injuries – although that depends on the trim you select.

The sedan starts at the lowest MSRP on the list, and four trim levels under $25,000 are available. The sedan, while roomier, only has two versions below the $25,000 mark.

Even if you opt for the base trim, the Mazda 3 comes standard with lane departure warnings, rear view monitors and a suite of other safety features. Like the Honda Civic listed later, it is a small car and best suited for small families.

2. 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer — $21,600

The Chevrolet Trailblazer is one of the most affordable new SUVs on the market. It’s a small SUV – the bigger ones tend to have much higher prices – but it still has plenty of space for a family. And while it only receives an average rating for headlights, it gets high scores from the IIHS in all other categories.

It gets an average score for its LATCH system, so it may be best for a family with older kids who don’t need car seats. But overall it’s a solid option. The 2021 Trailblazer is also an excellent security choice, which helps to achieve a used version an equally valid option.

3. 2022 Mazda CX-30 — $22,200

The Mazda CX-30 receives “good” scores – the highest rating – in all areas. It is one of the cheapest SUVs on the market and both versions are under $25,000.

Like the Mazda 3, it comes standard with lane departure warnings, rear view monitoring and other safety features. And even though it’s a small SUV, it should have enough space to transport your family while staying within your budget.

If you are used car shoppingthe 2021 model also makes the list of safest small SUVs.

4. 2022 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid — $22,645

The Subaru Crosstrek has been on the list of best safety vehicles since 2019, so it’s a good option if you also want a safe used car. More it’s a hybrid – which makes it good for saving on gas costs.

And of course, it’s a wagon, the classic form of the family car. Like a hatchback, the extra trunk space should be a bonus when you need to haul large items. Subarus are also known to hold their value, which means you may not be as affected by depreciation if you choose to buy new.

5. 2022 Subaru Legacy — $22,995

Like the Crosstrek, the Subaru Legacy has been at the top of the safety list for years. It’s a sedan, so it’s better for small families who don’t need a lot of trunk space. But it is known to be reliable.

However, it lacks a few safety features that are standard on other vehicles. Blind-spot detection and lane-departure warnings aren’t available on the base trim, which is the only option that costs less than $25,000 new. You may be able to find these features on a used Legacy – they’re just not guaranteed to be included.

6. 2022 Honda Civic — $22,350 to $23,350

The Honda Civic hatchback gets top marks in all categories except passenger and driver restraints. Since it’s a hatchback, there’s more space in the trunk to carry what your family needs without taking up as much room as an SUV.

The sedan has two versions that cost less than $25,000: the LX and the Sport. Both come with lane departure warnings and other collision avoidance systems along with a wide variety of safety features that are standard on the LX trim.

The sedan version of the Honda Civic has a little less space overall, but it also comes at a slightly lower price. It also means that three versions – rather than just two – sit around the $25,000 price tag. And, like the hatchback, the sedan gets top marks in every category except driver restraints and passenger leg and foot injuries.

7. 2022 Kia K5 — $23,790

The 2022 – and 2021 – Kia K5 is a top-notch sedan, but it may be better for families with older kids. The LATCH system for attaching car seats only has an average rating. This isn’t the worst thing, but it can make it more difficult to install and replace seats as needed.

Like many other new cars, it has a number of driver assistance and collision avoidance systems to keep you and your family safe. These are standard in the base version, so you won’t have to spend more just to get access to them. Kia is also one of the top-rated manufacturers in terms of reliability and has a long warranty period on its new cars.

8. 2022 Toyota Camry — $25,395

The Camry is one of the best cars if you care about safety and staying on budget, as it regularly makes it to the list of safest mid-size sedans. So while the 2022 Camry starts a little higher than $25,000, you’ll be able to find used cars just as safe as the current model.

That being said, make sure the previous models have the security features you are looking for. Some may not have options that are considered standard in today’s market.

Finance your family car

No matter which vehicle you choose, the first step to take before heading to the dealership is to prequalify for funding. You can do this through a bank, credit union, or online lender — or submit multiple applications to all three. This only counts as one query on your credit report if you apply within 14 days, so you can compare rates without hurting your credit.

Prequalification will give you an added advantage during negotiations. You can be firm on a price of $25,000. And if the dealership can offer you a lower rate or a better deal, you can opt for that financing instead.

And since most lenders offer 30 days to shop around, you can take your time researching and finding a great deal on a family car. This way, you can ensure you’re getting the best of both worlds: a decent interest rate and a reliable, safe vehicle for your family.

The bottom line

If you’re shopping for a new family car, these are your most affordable and safest options. Used cars will generally be a better choice for a family on a budget. They will often be under $25,000 – and the price may be more negotiable with a dealer.

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