Which cars are perfect for back-to-school?

Which cars are perfect for back-to-school?

The new school year is about to start, and you're going to need a vehicle to get your kids where they need to go. When you're a parent – whether you run the neighborhood carpool or not – having an ideal family car is integral. If you need to know why, just look at these tips from Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. 

Nerad recently spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the five things that parents should look for in a vehicle they'll be using to transport their children from one place to another. The first factor is an obvious one: safety. 

"It is also wise to look for more than just crash survivability, although that is very important," Nerad explained to the news outlet. "These days active safety equipment in the form of electronic driving aids can be equally important to your child's overall safety.   Lane departure warning, cross-traffic alert, back-up cameras and forward collision warning are all vital new technologies."

Number two on Nerad's list? Reliability. If you're going to purchase a car, you need to do the research and ensure that the vehicle has held up well for those who have been using it for years on end. The third essential factor on his list is somewhat similar: economy of purchase, or operation. 

"You might think that choosing a cheap car would give you a leg up on economical transportation, but a cheap vehicle that guzzles gas and has frequent mechanical problems can be more expensive over the long haul than a car that costs a bit more to purchase," he told the Journal-Constitution.

The fourth thing you'll have to consider before purchasing a back-to-school car is another obvious one: you've got to determine whether you'll buy new or used. But the fifth and final factor Nerad says families should take into account isn't obvious at all. In fact, it's something overlooked by many when they buy a car: the fun factor!

"A car is more than an appliance; it is often an expression of one's personality," Nerad said. "Choosing a car that your child can be proud of has many advantages, and getting a new car should be fun."

After offering these tips, Nerad presented a list curated by Kelley Blue Book. These are the ten best back-to-school vehicles for parents – and better yet, almost all of them have starting prices below $20,000.

  • 2015 Honda Fit
  • 2014 Kia Soul
  • 2014 Nissan Versa Note
  • 2014 Mazda 3
  • 2014 Toyota Prius C
  • 2014 Honda Civic
  • 2014 Chevrolet Sonic
  • 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
  • 2015 Volkswagen Golf
  • 2014 Subaru Impreza

A second take on the best back-to-school cars

Not entirely sold on the rankings provided by Kelley? How about a second opinion? That's what we recently got from Motor Trend, who recently published their own list of the top 15 back-to-school vehicles.

Many of the same cars that appear on the Blue Book list also show up in Motor Trend's rankings – so you can trust the vehicles making double appearances are among the best on the market today.

  • Mazda CX-5
  • Honda Fit
  • Dodge Dart
  • Toyota Prius C
  • Kia Soul
  • Honda Civic
  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Ford Mustang
  • Mazda 3
  • Toyota Tacoma 
  • Honda CR-V
  • Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
  • Volvo 240
  • Subaru XV Crosstrek
  • Volkswagen Jetta

Obviously there's a lot you need to be looking for if you're buying a car with your children in mind. You need to make sure it's safe, compare car insurance quotes to ensure it's affordable, and, as Nerad mentioned, you have to make sure that it's fun. Hopefully these two professionally researched list can help you get a jump start on finding the vehicle that's right for you!