Best cars for empty nesters

Small car on hillside
Have your kids grown up and flown the nest? If so, the requirements for your car may have changed dramatically. When you have a family to ferry around, your options are pretty much limited to a good old trusty estate, but once they’ve left home, the car choices are endless. We take a look at some of the options for parents who are finally home alone…

Smaller car, reduced fuel consumption and running costs

Driving an estate car or multi-person vehicle is an expensive business, so once there’s no longer the need for such a big car, many people want to reduce their motoring bills by going for a smaller model. The Hyundai i20 Hatchback is a great option if you’re looking for a small fuel efficient model that could save you money. Starting from around £8,695 new, the i20 has a 1.2 litre diesel engine and, according to Hyundai, the Blue Drive i20 model gives you a whopping 870 miles on a single tank of fuel. When choosing a car, you also need to factor in insurance costs, and although premiums will vary depending on your individual circumstances, premium costs for the Hyundai are low if you’ve got a good driving record. For example, according to quotes obtained from MoneySuperMarket’s car insurance channel, based on a couple both aged 55 living in North London with clean licences, full no claims discount, and off-road parking, it would cost £235.40 a year or £22.09 a month to insure a Hyundai i20 with the AA. This is for comprehensive cover including protected no claims bonus, with an excess of £350.

Something to tow a caravan

The kids leaving home gives you the freedom to take holidays when you want, for as long as you want, which is why caravanning is particularly popular with empty nesters. According to the Caravan Club, the average age of its members is 55. However, if you are planning on taking to the roads with a caravan, you’ll need to find a car capable of towing one. The Volkswagen Passat Estate Alltrack is one option, with Volkswagen claiming it “fills the gap between the traditional estate car and the SUV.” The car has a towing capacity of 2000kg, compared to 1800kg in the standard Passat, and fuel economy is also pretty impressive at 48 mpg for the automatic version and 50mpg for the manual. This car doesn’t come cheap, however, with a new model costing around £29,230, although insurance costs, depending on your circumstances, shouldn’t break the bank.  For example, comprehensive cover for this car, based on the same 55-year old couple, but this time based in rural Cambridgeshire, would cost just £179.07 a year with Zurich. This policy has a £400 excess.

Luxury rather than practicality

If you’ve had enough of driving a practical, safe, family car, the chances are you’ll want your next choice of motor to be altogether more exciting and luxurious. Without the threat of discarded food wrappers and grubby finger prints spoiling the interior, driving could actually become a treat. However, there is a price to pay for this pleasure, as luxury cars don’t come cheap. Take the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet convertible, for example. While this might be the car of your dreams, you’ll need deep pockets, as a 2014 model will set you back an eye-watering £82,072. Insurance costs are pretty painful too. Based on the same couple, but this time living in a village location in Oxfordshire, according to MoneySuperMarket the cheapest quote for comprehensive cover is £575.58 a year from Diamond, with a total excess of £500. Some providers supplied quotes up to £1,837 a year for cover, with an excess of £1,300, highlighting just how important it is to shop around for cover.

4x4

If it’s a 4x4 that floats your boat once the children have left the home, perhaps because you want a car that’s still big enough to fit plenty of people in, or because you live in a rural location, then the Subaru New Forester 2.0DX is well worth a look. Costing from £24,995, Top Gear describes it as one of the “most honest” smaller SUVs out there, although criticises its 2.0 litre engine for not having enough guts. However, according to Carbuyer.co uk, it is “tough, rugged and durable, with plenty of pulling power.” Insurance for a new Subaru Forester, based on an Edinburgh postcode and our 55-year old couple, would cost £349.80 with Diamond, with a £310 excess.

Green

Most of us want to do our bit for the environment, but it’s often hard to do that if you need a car that can accommodate a family. Once there’s just two of you are home, however, you might want to consider going for a much smaller, greener car, such as the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, which combines a conventional petrol engine with an electric motor. Starting from £15,495, the Yaris Hybrid has just been awarded first place in independent reviewer Honest John’s top 10 most economical petrol cars and is a small and practical hatchback.  It has CO2 emissions of 79g/km (making it exempt from vehicle tax) and fuel economy of 80.7mpg. The cheapest premium MoneySuperMarket could find for a 3-door Toyota Yaris Hybrid, again based on the same couple, but this time living in a rural location in North Wales, was £305.28 again with Diamond, with Elephant.co.uk and Admiral charging £309.52 and £314.82 respectively. All three of these policies have a £310 excess.

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