Single parents are in a unique place when it comes to their used cars. They want a used car that serves their needs as parents and single people.
Believe it or not, there are used cars on the road that are going to meet the needs of single parents and it might surprise you to find out they are affordable, fun to drive, and can seat a couple of children in the back with little fuss or muss.
Let's get some things out of the way. This article is built on advice for the parent who has and does not have custody of the children. It does not take into consideration cost (i.e. only used cars under $10,000) but instead points to particular makes and models. Also, all cars on this list have been given good marks by Consumer Reports (subscription required).
Another presumption is going to be that the hypothetical children are (at least) in booster seats that don't use the LATCH system. Also, we're going with the nuclear family of two kids just to keep things simple. So, this advice suits single parents with two children not in child safety seats who need a used car.
Also, while I am not a single parent, I have driven every vehicle on this list in my role as a new car reviewer. When possible, I am going to link to reviews and previews by fellow About.com writers Aaron Gold who writes about new cars and the always outstanding Jason Fogelson who writes about SUVs and minivans. For reasons too mundane to go into, I won't explain why SUVs and minivans are lumped together on About.com.
The fuel economy numbers are also based on 2009 models from Fuel Economy.gov if the used cars were still in production. Otherwise the numbers come from the last year of production.