Used Cars: Top 10 Safest Family Cars under $15k

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Whether you are starting a new family or adding a new addition to the existing unit, if you are in the market for a used car of the family variety, then you want the best that you can get. Taking into account reliability, spaciousness, resale value, and especially safety, here is a list of the ten safest used family cars available for less than $15k. Take advantage of used car websites, such as, for the best in used cars — Best selection, best price, and best safety ratings.




2012 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA SEGerman automakers are widely recognized for building solid automobiles and Volkswagen typically goes above and beyond even the norm. Standard safety equipment on the Jetta SE includes antilock braking with mitigated brake assist. When equipped with the optional SEL or TDI trim packages, this entry came to a halt from 60 mph in only 117-feet. Combine excellent braking with electronic traction control, side curtain airbags, front side airbags, and front active head restraints with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) best rating of “Good” in both the frontal-offset and side and roof strength categories and you get peace of mind.


2006 HONDA ODYSSEYThe Honda Odyssey minivan has excellent power and fuel economy, rugged reliability, and tons of room for the kids and cargo. Equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, the Odyssey delivers 244hp and impressive fuel efficiency ratings of 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway. Safety features include electronic stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, mitigated brake assist, and an electronic Brakeforce brake distribution system. The interior of the Odyssey could be equated to a bank vault for your loved ones with front seat side airbags and three-row side curtain airbags with rollover sensors. This mini van earned five-out-of-five stars in all government front and side impact crash tests and was named “Best Pick” in IIHS frontal-offset crash tests.


2010 TOYOTA AVALON XLThe fact that Toyota’s 2010 model flagship full-sized luxury sedan can be purchased for less than $15K is surprising. The fact that it makes the list for safe family cars does not. The front-wheel drive 3.5-liter V6 equipped Avalon delivers 268hp and still gets 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway. Standard post-crash safety features include front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver’s-side knee airbag, and active front head restraints. In addition, crash avoidance elements incorporate antilock disc braking and electronic stability and traction control systems. The Avalon earned perfect five-out-of-five star ratings in both frontal and side impact crash testing, with an IIHS top rating of “Good” for frontal-offset and side impact crashes.

2006 AUDI A4 2.0T Sedan

2006 AUDI A4 2.0T SedanThe Audi Quattro-all-wheel drive system is standard on the A4 Sedan, which speaks volumes about the safety of the car itself. It comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is extraordinarily responsive. It produces 200hp and puts up pretty impressive fuel economy numbers of 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway, when mated with the CVT transmission. Standard post crash safety resources are comprised of side curtain airbags for the front and rear, with optional seat mounted rear airbags available on certain models. Crash prevention measures include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, electronic stability and traction control, mitigated brake assistance, and electronic brake force distribution.  In government crash testing the A4 received four stars in frontal impact testing and five stars for side impact.


2011 NISSAN ALTIMA SThe Altima sedan, like an old friend, has withstood the test of time. The Altima comes standard with antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, front side impact airbags, and side curtain airbags. In IIHS frontal offset and side impact crash testing the Altima sedan earned a best possible rating of “Good.” The S trim package is equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 175hp and 180 ft.-lb. of torque. When combined with the continuously variable transmission, the Altima S gets 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway.


2009 DODGE JOURNEY SXTThe Journey SXT is a front-wheel drive mid-sized crossover SUV with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that manufactures 235hp. When mated with a six-speed automatic transmission, decent fuel economy numbers can be expected. Standard safety fare for the Journey includes antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, and rollover sensing technology. Crash reaction devices include side curtain airbags for all three rows and front seat side airbags. Optional equipment to look for on used vehicles: A rear view camera, hands-free communication system, and integrated second-row child booster seats.


2011 LINCOLN MKZThe luxurious MKZ is comfortable and safe as a family car, yet it is elegant and stylish as a business sedan, as well. Its 3.5-liter V6 engine churns out 268hp and 249 lb.-ft. of torque, while garnering fuel efficiency ratings of 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway. The Lincoln uses standard safety features which include electronic stability and traction control, blind spot notification mirrors, front seat side airbags, and side curtain airbags. Additionally, the MKZ is also equipped with the Ford MyKey system, which permits the vehicle owner to set vehicle system limitations for such functions as vehicle speed and audio volume. This can be particularly helpful when loaning your car to teenaged children and other family members or friends, as well as during valet parking situations. The MKZ earned perfect governmental crash test ratings for frontal and side impact crashes.


2010 CHEVROLET MALIBU LT1The Malibu includes such standard safety features as front side airbags, side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, and OnStar emergency communication and alert system. The Malibu earned a perfect five-out-of-five stars for frontal and side impact governmental crash testing and an IIHS top-tier rating of “Good” for frontal offset and side impact crash testing. Standard powertrain for the Malibu is front-wheel drive, with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and six-speed automatic transmission. The LTZ trim option (pictured) is outfitted with 18-inch cast aluminum  wheels, a sunroof, LED tail lights, Bose eight speaker audio system with MP3 hook up,  and leather upholstery

2011 VOLVO V50 T5

2011 VOLVO V50 T5The Volvo V50 is a compact wagon with room enough for five-passengers. Equipped with an inline five-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes 227hp and accelerates from 0 to 60 in 6.8-seconds, the V50 gets 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Keeping occupants safe is priority for the V50 which includes antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and front head restraints. Some models were also equipped with integrated rear booster seats and blind spot warning side view mirrors.


2010 FORD TAURUS SEThe Taurus SE is outfitted with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that yields 263hp and 249 lb.-ft. of torque, which is more than ample. This model Taurus has sleek aerodynamic lines, a low center of gravity, and a wide athletic stance which is complimented by rich classic styling. It is a front-wheel drive sedan that utilizes a six-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. Fuel mileage is an acceptable 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway. Taurus standard safety features include antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags. Optional safety equipment is also available on the Taurus. For instance: a blind spot warning system warns the driver of vehicles approaching and entering the area known as his “blind spot.” This is accomplished using a brightly colored icon exhibited on the sideview mirror. A pre-collision warning system warns the driver of an impending crash, initially with an audible and visual warning and finally with a seat-belt tug. A cross traffic warning system warns of objects that are in the vehicle’s path when reversing. Parking sensors aid with audible warnings emitted when parking. A rear view camera allows the driver full vision to the rearward path of travel.

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.