Between poring over options packages, drivetrains and trim levels, the search for a new family car can be daunting. But throughout the arduous process of picking the right vehicle for the family, many car shoppers forget about depreciation - one of the largest costs of owning a new car. Fortunately, we're here to help, as we've compiled a list of today's top family cars that will hold their value - and the whole family - for years to come.
Buyers looking to minimize depreciation in their large SUV choice should look no further than Chevrolet's full-size Traverse crossover. In addition to taking home Kelley Blue Book's top honors among full-size SUVs that retain their value, the Traverse offers a powerful standard V6, a robust 5,200-pound towing capacity and highway gas mileage of up to 24 miles per gallon. And while we prefer the look of the Traverse's mechanically identical GMC Acadia twin, KBB says that no full-size SUV offers the Traverse's high-value position or its projected 41 percent retained value over five years.
Although it's unlikely that growing families need yet another reason to buy Honda's popular Odyssey, Kelley Blue Book has issued one by announcing that the Odyssey has the best resale value of any minivan. In addition to retaining more than 38 percent of its value over five years, the Odyssey offers a powerful V6, a stylish exterior and a host of family-friendly convenience features. But don't fret if you chose a Toyota Sienna - the Odyssey's arch rival - instead: KBB projects Toyota's minivan will be worth just a shade less than the Odyssey in 60 months' time.
In addition to being highly capable in the snow and other inclement weather, Subaru's midsize Outback station wagon offers a great SUV alternative for family car shoppers. With a host of standard features and a surprisingly frugal 170-horsepower four-cylinder that returns nearly 30 miles per gallon in highway driving, the Outback is already a good choice for many buyers looking to downsize from an SUV. Better yet, Kelley Blue Book says the Outback retains nearly 39 percent of its value after five years, making it better than any other wagon on the market - and putting it on part with some of the top midsize SUVs.
The Camry's inclusion on this list won't surprise any drivers who have owned one of the midsize sedans in the past. In addition to roomy, fuel-efficient family transport, the 2012 Camry offers a fresh new body style and a wide range of enticing engine choices from a fuel-efficient four-cylinder to a sporty V6 and even a miserly hybrid. Best of all, Kelley Blue Book says the Camry tops the list of midsize sedans that hold their value, beating out Honda's popular Accord by retaining nearly 37 percent of its original value over five years. KBB says the Accord and Nissan's midsize Altima are also high on the list of projected resale value, retaining slightly less than Camry after five years but slightly more after three.
According to Kelley Blue Book, the Highlander can boast the second best resale value of any midsize SUV after Toyota's own FJ Cruiser - but since we don't think the FJ is very practical for families, we've included the Highlander instead. Based on the Toyota Camry's chassis and available with four- or six-cylinder gasoline engines or a six-cylinder hybrid powertrain, the Highlander offers something for nearly everyone. The SUV also retains more than 43 percent of its value after five years, beating the next best midsize SUV - the Ford Edge - by nearly six points.
What it means to you: Depreciation is an important factor to consider when selecting your next family car.