If you’re expecting a list of minivans and huge SUVs, you don’t know us very well Apkmusk

Last week was full of Rolls-Royces, Aston Martins, two-door sport coupes and buying $75,000 Mustangs. In an effort to balance things, our weekly “What would you buy?” series is going to take a sensible turn. It’s also going to be one that’s open to an awful lot of personal interpretation: buy a family vehicle. 

That said, “family vehicle” is intended to mean “vehicle meant for transporting human children of some number to and from places with myriad child-related stuff and maybe a dog.” In other words, this isn’t necessarily for our editors themselves. It’s not a “vehicle for your family” whatever that may look like. So sorry Joel, you can’t pick a Miata. 

Here are the rules …

  1. It can be new or used this week. 
  2. If used, we must actually demonstrate you can buy one in this country for that price.
  3. The car must be within $1,000 of $35,000. You can’t spend $25,000 on a used car of questionable reliability and save $10,000 for inevitable repairs. Because I definitely would’ve done that.
  4. Federal tax credits do not count. We don’t get 7,500 bonus fake bucks by choosing an American EV.
  5. See above “family vehicle” definition.

2024 Subaru Outback Limited

Senior Editor John Beltz Snyder: I wouldn’t mind being a Subaru owner again, and a $35,000 Outback might just be the way I’d do it. I’ll be a little bummed the turbocharger is out of my price range, but I’ll be happier about the fuel economy returns. For about the same price, I’m really tempted to opt for a Forester Wilderness, but I know the extra space and comfort in the Outback will pay its dividends on the long family road trips with the dog (and adding the Wilderness’s extra road noise to the sounds of children is just too much). This is going to be the family car after all. And I can get it in brown.

Used Volvo V60 Cross Country

Senior Editor James Riswick: I brought my son home from the hospital in a 2013 Audi Allroad, which I purchased as a CPO car for about $31,000 back in 2015. It was a terrific family car and it would ultimately still be serving my family to this day if it wasn’t for COVID-era travel restrictions that required something bigger for long road trips (we’ve since gone back to a smaller car). I loved that damn Audi. As such, I’m picking a used, second-generation Volvo V60 Cross Country as my family car for $35,000.

Wait, what? You see, I’m 100% still on board with the off-roadish luxury compact wagon, it’s just that I like the second-generation V60 Cross Country more than the second-generation A4 Allroad (which I also don’t like as much as my first-gen). This size of wagon has just-right cargo space, and the low roof makes it super-easy to mount and then load a roof carrier should you need more. The size also makes it easier to park and better to drive than a comparable compact SUV. Meanwhile, I actually like the look of the raised wagon, including the plastic fender flares. It fits in with the REI chic look I prefer after five years living in Oregon. Quite simply, the V60 CC is a fantastic-looking car. Snyder’s Outback may be far more functional, and new, but I’d happily make some sacrifices for style here.

There are currently about 60 used examples for sale in the United States on Autotrader within our price range. Most have about 30,000 miles on them (about how much my Allroad had on it when I bought it), but there are a few with lower.



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