I'm Trading My BMW Convertible For Something Family Friendly! What Car Should I Buy?

Image: BMW
Image: BMW

Alex lives in Florida, and while his BMW drop-top is perfect for the weather, it isn’t ideal for hauling around small children. He is looking for something somewhat unique that would fit the kids comfortably and has some upgraded features. With a budget of up to $40,000, what car should he buy?

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Quick Facts:

Budget: up to $40,000


Location: Florida

Daily Driver: Yes

Wants: Room for kids and stuff, nice features

Doesn’t want: Something too rare

Expert 1: Tom McParland - Being Practical Doesn’t Have To Sting


Coming from a BMW, I imagine you want to retain similar driving dynamics but increase your practicality. Typically having something that is both unique and reliable is a bit of a conflict, but there is a solution that will find a good balance all around. The Kia Stinger was an impressive entry as the Korean brand’s interpretation of “the ultimate driving machine.”

While it may not be as refined as the European hardware, it did offer a ton of performance and features for the money. Back seat space should be roomy enough for kids, and the rear hatch has enough usable space to rival most wagons. The styling is unique enough not to blend in too much while still retaining some warranty and parts access. I would strongly suggest you splurge and get the twin-turbo V6 models, but these are not hard to find in the sub $40,000 price point.

Since you don’t need a “top of the line” GT2 trim, I would point you to this Kia Certified 2022 GT1 model with 27,000 miles for about $36,000. If the red interior isn’t your thing there are plenty of similar alternatives in the region.

Expert 2: Collin Woodard - Treat Yourself

2020 Cadillac CT5
2020 Cadillac CT5

With three kids and two car seats, it makes sense that you’d sell the BMW, Alex. It’s just not practical. Still, your kids are pretty small, so I agree with Tom that you can probably get away with some kind of sporty sedan. If my two brothers and I all fit in the back seat of a 1996 Toyota Camry, your kids can handle sitting three across in something that doesn’t make you feel completely dead inside.

Tom is right that the Kia Stinger is a good choice. If you don’t want to go with the Stinger, though, maybe the Cadillac CT5 will do? I don’t think you’ve got the budget for a Blackwing, but you can definitely afford a regular CT5. Skip the four-cylinder in favor of the V6 because it’s in the budget and also because I really don’t think you’d be happy with the four-cylinder.

I’m not sure where you live in Florida, but here’s a 2020 Cadillac CT5 Premium Luxury with 23,000 miles on it for $32,799. It comes with plenty of bells and whistles and should be a great value compared to similar luxury sedans. Sadly, it doesn’t have the Stinger’s incredibly practical liftback, but with a better-appointed interior, I think you can live with that.

Expert 3: José Rodríguez Jr. - The Choice Is Clear As Scandinavian Waters


Alex, you need a wagon. That much is clear. Now, which wagon you need is a little less clear since there are options from BMW and Audi, among others, but I’m going to say it’s a Volvo in some form or another. You want a family vehicle that’s unique but not a martian, and you want something that’s still fun to drive. A V60 would suit but I’m partial to the V90 due to its size. This 2019 Volvo V90 T5 is arguably a boring color, but it’s an R-Design model so you get better looks.

The wagon is a drive out from you in Florida, but that’s a good excuse to take a road trip even in this weather. And it’s a good way to add some miles to the odomoter which is sitting at just over 24,300 miles. The V90 T5 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, but the T6's more powerful engine adds a supercharger, so there’s more complexity and, perhaps, more headaches for when you want to wrench. Plus, the T5 gets better fuel mileage of up to 35 miles per gallon highway. That’s not too shabby, especially for a car that loves corners.

The T5 is a sharp-handling wagon that lives up to its looks, and Volvo has been lauded for its relatively simple yet luxurious interiors. You could always hunt for a V90 Inscription versus the R-Design, but the sportier looks of the R would be my choice. Either way, you’ll get a well-appointed, spacious vehicle that doubles as both a fun car and family car.

Expert 4: Bradley Brownell - Hotter Hatch

Photo: Carmax
Photo: Carmax

There is a car that nobody can stop crowing about for the last few years, and that’s the FK8-generation Civic Type R. When it comes to a family sedan/hatch that can hold all your stuff but is still fun to drive for a track day or a hard pull on the highway, can you really beat the CTR? And you mention that you need something that won’t need a lot of wrenching, which is pretty much Honda’s modus operandi. You can hammer on one of these for another decade and not be likely to have any major issues crop up.

The looks aren’t for everyone, but if you get it in a fun color, it looks a lot better. It’s a bit boy racer for a former Bimmer guy, but maybe that’s what you need in your life right now. This one is my choice, and while it’s a bit over your budget at $43,000, but examples can be found in the 35-40 range all day long, depending on how much you can compromise on color and mileage.

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