Five Best Used Cars for Single Parents

They help with the kids and they're good for alone time

Single parents are in a unique place when it comes to shopping for used cars: They want cars that serve their needs as parents and as single people. There are used cars that will meet their needs, and they are affordable, fun to drive, and can seat a couple of children in the back with little fuss or muss.

These suggestions should be helpful for single parents whether they do or don't have custody of the children. They concern particular makes and models instead of cost. All cars on this list have received good marks from Consumer Reports.

The fuel economy numbers are based on 2009 models from fueleconomy.gov if the used cars were still in production. Otherwise, ​the numbers come from the last year of production.

01
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Honda Fit

Buying a used car, questions to ask a dealer, finding a used car
The 2007 Honda Fit is a great used car for a single parent. Photo © Honda

The Honda Fit could be the poster child for used cars for single parents. It's a master of adaptability with plenty of room and a seating configuration that lets you carry a 3-year-old and a tall plant.

The Honda Fit is great for a single parent with two kids because:

  • It has amazing cargo capacity and seats four adults comfortably.
  • It's highly fuel efficient at 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.
  • It's not powerful but is fun to drive, especially with the five-speed manual transmission.
  • It's not a looker but it's the right size for children. They won't find it overwhelming.

Consumer Reports has given the Honda Fit its highest ratings from 2007 on.

02
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Toyota Camry

2007 Toyota Camry is one of America's most popular cars. Get beyond its blandness and it's a great used car for a single parent. Photo © Toyota

Nothing says practical like a Camry, which is what makes it so appealing as a used car for a single parent.

The Toyota Camry is great for a single parent with two kids because:

  • It's available in a four-cylinder model, which is more than enough power for hauling you and the kids.
  • It's fairly fuel efficient at 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
  • It offers a lot of trunk space for tucking away all you need to carry when the kids come to visit.
  • The bland styling is not going to turn off a date like some souped-up models might.

Consumer Reports gives the Toyota Camry good ratings from 2001 on.

03
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Nissan Altima

The used Nissan Altima has always been a bit of a sleeper that is overshadowed by the Accord and the Camry. Don't get hung up on those name plates. It's a great used car alternative for single parents. Photo © Nissan

The Nissan Altima is one of the most underappreciated used cars, which makes it perfect for single parents in search of a used car.

Ever wonder why you see so many used Nissan Altimas on the road? It's because they are very functional.

The Nissan Altima is great for a single parent with two kids because:

  • It's available in a four-cylinder model that produces good horsepower and will never let you down performance-wise.
  • It's fuel efficient at 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Anything approaching 25 mpg city is great in a big sedan.
  • It offers a lot of trunk space with a wide opening for packing away what you need when the kids come to visit.
  • The styling hasn't changed much since 2002, so you can buy an older model and not look dated.

Consumer Reports gives the Nissan Altima good ratings from 2002 on. The only year you might want to steer clear of is 2005, where there appear ​to be problems with the electrical and fuel systems.

04
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Ford Five Hundred

The 2006 Limited Ford Five Hundred four-door sedan with all-wheel drive has a gold ranking (the highest) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which helps make it a great car for single parents. Photo © Ford

Between the classic Ford Taurus and the new Ford Taurus is this oddly named sedan, the Ford Five Hundred. Single parents in cold weather climes will want to pick up the used model with all-wheel drive.

The Ford Five Hundred is largely ignored by the buying public who got hung up on its name and perceived lack of power. There's no problem with performance at 203 horsepower.

The Ford Five Hundred is great for a single parent with two kids because:

  • It has a huge trunk. When it was introduced, Ford said it could hold up to eight sets of golf clubs. Kids travel with lots of stuff, but not eight sets of golf clubs' worth—at least one would hope not.
  • It's not very fuel efficient around town at 19 mpg city, because it comes only in a V-6 version, but it's respectable at 26 mpg on the highway.
  • This is an amazingly comfortable car to drive. Some call it underpowered, but it has the oomph to move a family of four down the road.
  • The styling is bland but not offensive. It's so anonymous that it has proved popular with police supervisors keen on blending in.

Consumer Reports gives the Ford Five Hundred good ratings for 2005 to 2007, the years it was produced. It's a CR recommended used car.

05
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Acura TL SH-AWD

The 2006 Acura TL is a prime example of a great deal in used sport sedans, especially for single parents. Photo © Acura

Single parents don't always have to deny themselves life's simpler pleasures, and the Acura TL is one of those. Performance is spot-on, handling is great, and there's no shortage of space for kids and their goods.

One concern that some single parents might have about the Acura TL is its design. It may not age well, and then your're left with a vehicle that could look dated.

The Acura TL SH-AWD is still great for a single parent with two kids because:

  • Its name indicates a strong attribute: "SH-AWD" stands for "super handing, all-wheel drive." You won't find much better handling sedans outside the performance lineup.
  • It's not particularly fuel efficient around town at 17 mpg city because of the all-wheel drive. The 25-mpg highway number doesn't hurt as much from a 3.7-liter V-6 engine.
  • This car is fun to drive. Nothing says a single parent can't smile once in a while, with or without the kids in tow.
  • This is a beautiful car inside with a great sound system suitable for playing "The Wiggles" in absolute clarity.

Consumer Reports has recommended the Acura TL since 2001 with high marks as a dependable, fun sedan to drive.