By on April 15, 2017

chrysler200-rear

If you’re planning to buy your teen son or daughter their first vehicle — rather than let them work a retail job to save up for a rusting heap — the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety wants a word.

There’s good and almost-as-good choices for used cars out there, and none of them are a ’95 Cavalier with a blown suspension and more fluid leaks than the Bismark. While the IIHS top picks pack piece of mind for parents, kids might cringe at the less-than-sexy choices.

About 83 percent of Americans who buy their kid’s first vehicle head straight to the used market, IIHS claims. $2,000 to $2,000 can buy some pretty sweet rides, but because safety is IIHS’ bible, there’s a distinct lack of vehicles suitable for impromptu drag races.

To keep Bryanna and Brayden safe, the institute recommends a large vehicle with modest horsepower and an all-important four- or five-star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Good” ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, side and head restraint tests also factor into the choices.

In the “best” category, the list of vehicles under $20,000 contain all the models you’d expect to see an aspiring accountant salivate over. In the full-size field, the Toyota Avalon (2015 and newer) and Volvo S80 (2007 and newer) top the list, with the more desirable 2013 (and newer) Infiniti M37 and M56 rounding out the list.

The low end of the midsize car category includes the 2011 and newer Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 200. Your kids might thank you for the purchase when they’re about 35, following years of hindsight.

Other decent vehicles include late-model variants of the Kia Optima, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Hyundai Sonata, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Jetta and Passat, Chevrolet Malibu, and a host of others. So sensible, so safe.

In the small SUV category, there’s plenty of vehicles eyebrow-raising choices for a 16- to 19-year-old. They include the Fiat 500x, Chevrolet Trax, and everyone’s favorite soccer mom grocery getter, the Toyota RAV4. Again, IIHS doesn’t pay any mind to image, just safety. Also on the list are both Mitsubishi utility vehicles, the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Rogue, and the Mazda CX-3.

Midsize SUVs run the gamut of popular sellers, though Japan seems underrepresented with only the 2015 and newer Nissan Pathfinder and Murano. America takes the hit in the pickup category, with the 2014 and newer Toyota Tundra extended cab serving as the sole entry. If your child is popular, they’ll no doubt love the commodious seating and cargo space of the late model Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna minivans. (None of which are as cool the the ’84 Town & Country — with stick shift — in my high school parking lot).

Turning its attention to “good” choices under $10,000, IIHS recommends a number of models that appeared on the “best” list, only older. Yes, the Avalon makes a return, joined by the 2010 and newer Buick LaCrosse. The 2009 and newer Ford Taurus remains a Duratec-powered safety cruise, while the Taurus X, Saturn Vue and Subaru B9 Tribeca join a roster of (much) more commonplace sedans and SUVs.

Nonconformists will rejoice at the list, actually. Saturn Outlook? Check. Last-generation Saab 9-3? If you can find one, it’s good to go. The same goes for 2011 and newer Nissan Quests. If a pickup is a must, Ford’s 2009 and newer F-150 crew cab models join the aforementioned Tundra in the largest vehicle category, but forget about appearing quirky.

Given the generous size of the list, there should be no problem finding a deal on a reasonably low-mileage example of one of the models. However, you’d best give your kid a choice to avoid a Walter White Jr.-in-Breaking Bad scenario.

Actually, if it’s your money, let yourself have all the say.

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147 Comments on “IIHS Wants Your Teen Driver Behind the Wheel of These Square Used Vehicles...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “blown suspension and more fluid leaks than the Bismark”

    Bismarck. I also think Titanic would be more apt as the Bismarck was scuttled by its crew by explosive before sinking quickly in 1941.

    Also, the M37 is called Q70 from 2013 onward:

    Manufacturer Infiniti
    Also called Nissan Fuga
    Infiniti Q70 (2013–present)
    Mitsubishi Proudia

    and your luck of finding one is slim:

    2012 9,130[36]
    2013 5,280[37]
    2014 5,034[38]
    2015 6,304[39]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infiniti_M

    Best bet is a P3 Volvo (MY07-MY14 S80, 60, V70 or XC70).

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      My first car was a 2007 XC90. I got rid of it two years ago, Because it was costing more to repair it than it was worth. Also mine was consuming oil.

      http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?220355-3-2L-seems-to-quot-consume-quot-more-oil-than-expected

      http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?209506-2011-XC90-Burning-Oil

      The P3 Volvo’s also use the 3.2 engine.

      • 0 avatar
        DukeGanote

        I’m 100% contrarian: my daughters Lucille and Laverne drove the then-brand-new 2011 Honda Fit because it had state-of-the-art anti-lock brakes and sundry safety features. We parents drove the older vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Correct, and the oil consumption is a known problem on the SI6.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_SI6_engine

        The motor can still go the distance with proper attention though:

        MY07 Volvo S80 (P3) 3.2

        4/11/17 $2,000 253,056 – – 6G/A Gray Regular Midwest Minneapolis
        3/22/17 $2,000 209,167 – – 6G/A Gray Regular West Coast California
        3/29/17 $2,200 165,123 – – 6G/A Green Regular West Coast Tucson
        3/22/17 $3,000 158,684 – – 6G/A White Regular Southeast Fort Myers
        3/22/17 $3,700 143,352 – – 6G/A Gray Regular Midwest Milwaukee
        3/16/17 $4,700 126,749 – – 6G/- – Gray Regular Midwest Chicago
        3/31/17 $4,600 114,114 – – 6G/- – Gold Regular Southwest Dallas-Fort Worth
        4/11/17 $3,100 91,181 3.4 6G/A Black Lease Northeast Philadelphia
        3/23/17 $4,300 80,508 – – 6G/- – Silver Regular Northeast Fredericksburg
        3/30/17 $6,000* 74,686 – – 6G/A – – Regular West Coast Nevada

        EDIT: According to this thread, the oil consumption issue was solved with new pistons:

        My 2011 xc60 just came out of shop . The dealer had to change out the pistons to fix the oil consumption. It started at 5k now at 34k they tested the engine and found the problem . Apparently this was approved by the factory , the seals on the pistons were misaligned on the production line . Dealer told me they have done this repair 100 times in the last year

        http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?172232-2011-XC60-burning-oil-problem

        I knew the SI6 had oil consumption issues but if this man is correct, it wasn’t as much a design issue as an assembly issue.

        • 0 avatar
          don1967

          It’s a non-issue on the S80. The dipstick level on my 3.2 doesn’t budge, and this experience is repeated ad nauseum in the owners’ forums.

          According to Consumer Reports the issue affects between 6-13% of XC models in MY 2010 and 2011, and 0-2% in MY 2012-14. Factor in Volvo’s 12-month service intervals, and the fact that owners in this segment tend to consider any interaction with the hood latch a “failure” on the vehicle’s part, and this issue is more of a molehill than a mountain.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      The Titanic had an obvious problem with water leaking in, but the Bismarck was tracked by the trail of fuel oil she was leaving in the water after the first encounter with the Royal Navy. So either could be applicable but the Bismarck metaphor is more apt since loss of fluids is more problematic than water ingress. Unless of course you bought your kid a Miata with a gaping tear in the roof.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @jpolicke is correct. The Titanic did not sink due to fluid leaks. The Bimsarck however had to try to return to port and was largely tracked due to leaking fluid.

        Now what about the obvious typo in the article. Sweet rides from $2,000 to $2,000? Shouldn’t there be some gap in those numbers and what $2k vehicles were recommended? None mentioned in the article.

  • avatar
    Carfan94

    The Town & Country minivan wasn’t introduced until 1989. And it was never available with a stick shift.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      I was going to add this. The author must have been thinking of a wood-paneled Voyager or Caravan from 1984. They did indeed have manual options back then.

      The Town & Country was a MY1990 introduction. My parents bought one new in 1989.

      • 0 avatar
        cls12vg30

        I assume the article referred to the K-car derivative Chrysler Town & Country, which was indeed available for 1984 as a wagon or a convertible. It did feature woodgrain paneling, but I don’t believe it was available with a manual. Similar cars like the Plymouth Caravelle or Dodge 600 might have been, though.

  • avatar

    Yup. Send your 18 year-old daughter off to college 500 miles away from home in a decade-old Volvo. Sounds safe.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      She’d be much better off in an H-body.

      • 0 avatar

        I would rather prefer bicycle, but I live in San Francisco Bay area. And I do not have daughter (my son rides bicycle though and when not doing that – some generic PC Subaru SUV).

      • 0 avatar

        Oh,and BTW my so learned to drive in ’94 Taurus with leaking transmission and radiator (and add leaking oil pan there too). I replaced radiator and fixed oil leak but AXOD transmission was a mystery to me. You could not get too far in that car. It was not just slow but very slow because it had 3.0L Vulcan instead of proper Japanese DOHC I4 and the only good thing about that engine was that it was very reliable, probably the most reliable Ford engine at time.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          1994 Camry I-4 0-60: 10.9 seconds
          1994 Taurus 3.0L 0-60: 10 seconds

          1994 Camry I-4 city MPG: 18
          1994Taurus 3.0L city MPG: 18

          1994 Camry I-4 HWY MPG: 26
          1994 Taurus 3.0L HWY MPG: 27

          Gawd, how did you survive with such a horribly slow car? And you paid so much in MPG for that slowness. Geeze. And an old car that leaks. Wow. Superior Japanese cars don’t leak, ever. Except my 230K+ mile Taurus uses far less oil than my 1994 Accord with less than 200k. To be fair, it burned it instead of leaking. Vastly superior.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            To be fair I can’t see an older Vulcan Taurus getting better mpg than a 2.2L Camry, neither city nor highway, despite what EPA ratings may be. GM A/W body with a 3100/3300 or 3800 in highway driving? Sure. But the Vulcan was never an efficient engine IMO. 4cyl Camry of that era should easily get 30-32 highway in real world circumstances, I’ve never heard of a Vulcan getting more than 26-27mpg highway.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “I’ve never heard of a Vulcan getting more than 26-27mpg highway”

            Had one, can confirm 27mpg to a “T”.

          • 0 avatar

            Vulcan Taurus gave me in average 25.5 mpg mostly freeway driving. My ’14 Fusion with 2.0 Ecoboost averages 27.5 mpg but with more city and more aggressive driving.

            The issue with Vulcan Taurus was that it did not accelerate at all after 65 mph. My son hated it. I was surprised to learn that in US Ford and GM were still making pushrod engines in 90s. Europeans and Japanese switched to more effective and faster DOHC engines in 80s.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The Vulcan V6 wasn’t anemic in the late 2000s because it was a pushrod engine, there are lots of great modern competitive pushrod engines. The vulcan was anemic because it was a 20+ year old engine that had received little revisions or improvements.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            My Vulcan Taurus occasionally did 30 mpg on Seattle-Portland drives on busy days, when it was impossible to exceed 60 mph most of the way.

            But in everyday driving, it was 21-22 mpg, no matter whether I babied or abused it. It’s still the single car in my history that cared least about driving style.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            What I’ve always heard with the Vulcan (from fleet managers who had rows of white Taurii in their fleet) was that it either got “great MPG” or “terrible MPG” and it didn’t seem to matter who was driving – it was like the car itself had a personality.

            I had one assigned to me and got 26 mpg out of it in state highway and freeway driving. Other Taurus in the fleet were lucky to record 21 mpg in similar driving.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “She’d be much better off in an H-body.”

        Not really IMO, aside from it being easier/cheaper to find someone to work on it if/when something does let go.

        I sold my 20 year old 209k ES300 to a lady buying it for her college bound son. I unequivocally said that as long as he kept up on oil changes the next 4 years and didn’t ignore something catastrophic like a coolant leak/overheating condition, it’d be rock solid.

        I interned with a guy with a 185k mile Cavalier, CEL, rotted out, crazy shake on the highway (he drove 85mph everywhere). But the damn thing just kept going. I think he tried to change the plugs once and one was frozen in the head so he just left it be. Another intern had a 5th gen accord with unrepaired deer-accident damage to the front end and dangling exhaust. Not saying that’s the way to go in terms of safety/reliability, but more so point to how resilient modern fuel injected vehicles are.

        Certainly if one has the means to buy something much newer then they should do that, but any number of much cheaper used options are not a total death sentence or hopelessly unreliable either.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Inside joke.

          “I sold my 20 year old 209k ES300 to a lady buying it for her college bound son.”

          Good luck kid. Even stuff on the mythical Lex gets tired at that age/miles.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I’ll say this much: within the $2000 price bracket on the local craigslist, that ES300 from the “fat” years with a good maintenance history (including regular ATF changes and a fresh t-belt/waterpump+accessory belts, brand new rotors/pads all around), and even fresh snow tires is about as good as it gets, even with 209k miles. Should something in fact go bad, most mechanical parts are Camry-spec and cheap and easy to find. In all honesty the struts were getting a bit tired, but the buyers could easily make their mind up on that during the test drive. It still drove well, and nothing about that was safety-critical. All other bushings/joints/tie rods were incredibly tight. There’s a reason I ended up selling for above my asking price.

            $2000 around here can get you a worn out high mile late 90s Civic or Corolla (Corolla will burn a lot of oil, Civic will need suspension work and will be due for T-belt), a J or N body that inevitably needs a lot of odds and ends, a W-body with rusty rockers and potentially a whiny transmission, rusty late 90s Nissan, Aveo or Korean Suzuki fodder, Early 2000s Hyundai, rusty Taurus with a lottery on transmission longevity. Clean stuff by owner runs few and far in between as the listings are saturated with auction flippers and crummy used car lots.

            In fact what I’m trying to say is that condition/maintenance history at that price/age makes all the difference and that ES was head and shoulders above the rest of the field in that price range. The same could have been true for a well cared for older H/W/-body but those are getting harder and harder to find in “crazy-underpriced grandma car” state.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I have no doubt what you offered was average to clean condition for that age/miles. I just pity those who have to depend on such a thing as primary transportation and whose budgets may be slim.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Heck that kid has no idea how lucky he is to be driving that nice of a car straight out of high school(!!!). Really shows you how good we have it in the US when a kid getting a luxury-brand car with heated leather seats, V6, A/C, etc in good repair is pitied. Our family of four took road trips in rusty old Civics without any A/C as far as Florida from Central NY, never any serious car trouble on those trips thankfully but those old Hondas were far from perfect mechanically. Additionally, a kid in college who lives on/near campus is a bit different than a family needing a car for transportation IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Kids today, be lucky to have a worn out K-car.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      When I met my wife as an intern, she was driving a hand me down ’04 S60 with 115k miles (this was in 2011). Over the course of the next few years the car served her fairly decently, but did need some work (no start issue from sitting for really long with moisture in the tank, front end work). It always had an airbag light and a flaky driver info screen. So overall okay, and they are indeed quite safe as I gather. Volvo was passed on to her younger sister, and later sold by me after a bit of light refurbishment.

      Both daughters in the family ended up with Camries upon college graduation, a ’12 SE bought new and a ’13 XLE Hybrid bought lightly used. The perfect “Set it and forget it” transportation. Haven’t had a lick of trouble in 69k miles aside from replacing a rear wheel bearing/hub after my now wife clipped a curb at reasonable speed.

      Friends of ours, a pair of sisters as well, were bought a pair of matching Dodge Avengers (mid 4cyl trim) by their blue collar immigrant parents, also a rational choice I’d say given the price you can scoop one up for (let alone the kind of deal you could swing buying not one but two cars in one go).

    • 0 avatar

      My P2 volvo is currently spitting oil out everywhere. Lots of fun. The list of stuff that gone bad in the last 20k miles is truly horrendous for a well maintained car with 147k miles on it. Also who designs a PCV system that requires removing the intake to service. Anyways the list (and yes most are sorta wear items)

      Brake hoses
      CV boot
      Ball joints
      Sway bar end links
      Control arm bushings
      Motor mounts (all 5 are shot)
      Widow motor
      Driver door handle
      Cam seals
      PCV system
      Rear main seal
      Turbo drain seal

      Again all sorta understandable except when they all fail so close to each other, It’s kind of like the car had an expatriation date.
      Oh well seats are still comfortable.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …$2,000 to $2,000 can buy some pretty sweet rides…

    That’s a pretty narrow range.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    Safety was absolutely a concern as we recently shopped for a car for our youngest daughter. Ended up with a 2014 Acura RDX, which has an excellent safety record. The one potential problem with it is that it’s WAY faster than I’d have preferred for a teen’s first car…

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I am surprised you had to get a premium brand. Why not one of the 2 million a year Corolla/Civic/RAV4/CR-V/Camry/Accord. No need to chase Infiniti’s that sell by the thousand or other esoteric vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        Used car buyers tend to be frightened of the luxury brands, so their prices are depressed. Meanwhile, Honda’s reputation suggests frugal running costs, so the new car price differential between Honda and Acura shrinks. So my local Honda/Acura garage’s owner says she usually buys an Acura as her personal car- for a little more, you get so much more. That was her advice to me last Wednesday, anyhow.

        I was looking at older RDXs under $10,000 and found slim pickings. At high mileage they were showing the same costly leaks you’d expect from any car, particularly in the power steering system. The RDX is still on the high edge of our shopping list, though. I’d hardly call it an esoteric vehicle, but fine, Mike, don’t take any chances– ever. Teach your kids to blend, and don’t make waves.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          I said esoteric in terms of sales. The RDX and Infiniti’s mentioned (M) are minor sales wise.

          I am all for not blending in, especially as I owned a wagon. But for a first car I think choosing a reliable and cheap to service car is a good choice. I know of colleagues, who have proper jobs, paying $700+ for a 30k service for their Lexus IS. So choosing such premium vehicles us costly. If you gave the money then do it but don’t complain on the next article about affluenza.

      • 0 avatar
        ZCD2.7T

        Budget was the low $20K range.

        We drove most of the usual SUV suspects in that price range, but it came down to value for money. No disrespect to the CR-Vs, RAV4s and Tucsons of the world, but those don’t compare well to a slightly used RDX.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “Safety was absolutely a concern as we recently shopped for a car for our youngest daughter.”

      When we sent our grand daughter off to college 75-miles away, we bought her a brand new 2011 Elantra for the 150-mile daily commute.

      Never had a problem. Highly recommend it.

      Best warranty in the business but we never had to use it.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        I wanted to get a late model Elantra for my eldest, but my wife and daughter had other ideas: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/08/defense-jeep-patriot/

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Ultimately, you buy what works for them.

          My best friend bought a new Subaru Impreza when his daughter went off to college. I bought a new ’96 Saturn for my daughter when she left home.

          That’s what she wanted.

          I’ve gotten away from buying “used”. When I was younger I could maintain and repair them.

          But no longer. Too old. Too stiff. Don’t bend well anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            56BelAire

            HDC….”Too old. Too stiff. Don’t bend well anymore.”

            ++++, I hear you. Also, don’t see well anymore. Can’t hear worth a damn. Too many aches and pains.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            56BelAire, deaf in one ear, and cain’t hear with th’other……

            Hell, I’m grateful just to wake up breathing every mornin’.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            The one we bought for my daughter was a year old and had 8200 miles on it, and was about $4500 less than an equivalent new one would have been. With two years left on the warranty, it was still a safe buy.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            FormerFF,

            a safe buy, and that’s what counts.

            When I was a young airman and we had very little money, that’s all we could afford to buy — used.

            But I never had any luck with the used vehicles we bought. They were always someone’s discards that needed a lot of TLC and fixing.

            A different time, I suppose.

      • 0 avatar
        ZCD2.7T

        We did the same for our older daughter – brand new Kia Soul Exclaim, plus a bumper-to-bumper 10-year 100K mile warranty. It’s been a great car, and she loves it.

  • avatar

    $2K has been the sweet spot my kids. 2003 Mazda Protege5- 140K mi, 19 yr old daughter still loves it. My 16 yr old son totaled his 2002 Accord 165k mi and is now rocking a 2003 Mazda 6 with 146k miles. Just gotta look and be picky when it counts.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I used to buy $400-$500 clunkers and do the minimal repairs to keep them running a few years, and then call the wreckers. That’s about $1800-$2200 today. Several were full size luxury cars with big engines when new. If there’s one thing that’ll keep kids safe, it’s the lack of money to pay for gas, except on necessary trips. Those short trips in the ‘hood are dangerous, with fender-benders and license points at risk on every block.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “I used to buy $400-$500 clunkers and do the minimal repairs to keep them running ”

        That’s the way I did it for decades to solve our ever-increasing transportation needs, living in the middle of nowhere, 26 miles from the nearest town (at that time).

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with a low cost car. My first car was loaned to me by my family… 1997 Toyota Avalon. That poor car got quite a few paint scuffs before the youthful impulsivity waned. I was just happy to have a car.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah that’s what my kids are getting. Maybe toss the keys to the 88 Ramcharger. First car was a hand me down 78 econoline with more bondo then steel. Lots of fun. Then had the Ramcharger followed by a $800 XJ.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Why no Nissan Leaf or Fiat 500e?
    Surely these are the best high school cars in N. America.
    Maybe even college if the campus is within 50 miles or so.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      +1 super cheap runabout

    • 0 avatar
      Maxb49

      “Why no Nissan Leaf or Fiat 500e? Surely these are the best high school cars in N. America.Maybe even college if the campus is within 50 miles or so.”

      You have got to be kidding me.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        No I’m completely serious on this one.

        Cheap to buy (gigantic depreciation), relatively safe, reliable (this is the electric version Fiat remember), range limited on a single charge, kid gets bonus points with friends for being environmentally sensitive and saving Mar-A-Lago from sea level rise.

        Heck you can probably shame the school system into providing some free charging stations as part of their “green” initiatives.

        My grandkids are 6 yrs away from driving age, but I can totally see putting them in a Leaf. They already drive golf carts in their neighborhood so they understand “range anxiety”.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        The electric Smart ForTwos are pretty cheap (around $5k-$6k), and they probably won’t burst into flames without warning, unlike the gas-engined ones.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          That $5-6k probably doesn’t include the battery lease. Most used-car lots that pick these up at auction don’t know any better, but MBUSA does. Call them and check the VIN before you buy.

    • 0 avatar
      northeaster

      I would think the Fiat an excellent choice: downtime in the shop means you can’t be getting into trouble on the roads as a teenage driver.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Dream rides for a teen would be something luxurious with a tiny engine. G25, 320i, diesel E class.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    “Again, IIHS doesn’t pay any mind to image, just safety.”

    All the more reason for parents to use things like image to put things into context. If you buy your teenage son an Infiniti M56, he’s probably going to wrap all 420 horses around a tree.

  • avatar
    OzCop

    Hmmm…no sporty cars at all…
    So IIHS is concerned with a safe vechile, as opposed to a vehicle that handles well, and teaching your teen how to drive it within it’s dynamic limits to learn control? And aside from that, I assume they do not know that most teen involved wrecks are caused by what? Distractions…pure and simple. Distractions from what? Hmmmm, could it be a car or SUV load of their peers yelling, screaming, and otherwise horse playing as they drive down the road? What about texting and talking on the phone? Yep, distractions. I teach teen driving schools that include vehicle dynamics and defensive tactics to avoid possible catastrophes, including distracted driver training. My kids are grown, but my grand kids are driving, and I encouraged all of them to take a class similar to the one I teach. I would prefer my grandchild drive a Miata, or a Corvette, and know how to control it rather than a big rumbling SUV or 5 passenger sedan…after all, how many friends can they haul around in a two seater?

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      With every passing year and its addition of next-tranche, barely-parented, untaught and distraction-prone drivers in ever faster cars on steadily degrading roads, an eventual crash must be assumed and passive survivability is the only mass-achievable goal.

      Surround them with the most airbags and crumply metal possible at the greatest seating height affordable.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        What is this common fascination with sitting up high? It’s ridiculous. Height may matter if hit by another tall vehicle, but that’s only a subset of crashes. Many distracted driving accidents result in running off the road, and height greatly increases rollover risk. And haven’t you ever notice the difference in perceived speed in a tall vehicle? It feels much slower at the same speed – so your kid will probably drive faster to compensate.

        Case in point- the day I bought my GTI, we all rode to the dealership in a Tiguan. That’s almost the same car, but taller, and the driver sits about a foot higher. Riding back home in the GTI, she was startled by the sensation on speed on an urban interstate. “Dad!” she said, “How fast are you going?” I replied, “Sixty-seven.” I’m sure it seemed faster to her, with the white lines zipping by so closely.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Honestly, I think you’re concerned the handling difference between an Accord and a Miata will save a young driver’s life, you’ve done an awful job training them to be a defensive driver and anticipate risk.

      I agree, smaller would probably be better (a Hyundai Veloster would probably be ideal if you welded the third door shut), but realistically, hormone addled young brains can’t be trusted to not do stupid things, no matter how well trained they are. Better to have something slow, predictable, and competent, but shenanigan-averse than, you know, a Corvette?

      • 0 avatar
        OzCop

        It really doesn’t matter, kids will do stupid things regardless of the car they are driving in. Any car with 100 hp these days is capable of hitting a hundred miles per hour. However, that is not the speeds most kids are going when they are involved in a serious wreck, or even killed. Think 50 mph…The difference in handling of a smaller, tighter car, including the GTi mentioned above and several others, is far superior to the lumbering sedans the IIHS wants us to consider for our kids.
        Of course, the basic problem with this is far too many parents are willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for a kids first car, but are reluctant to pay the 400 dollar tab for a proper driver training program that not only teaches control, but concentrates on real world scenarios that cause the potential accident. I live close to Flower Mound, TX high schools, and affluent area in the DFW Metroplex, and driving through the parking lot of either of their high schools you will see everything from Porsches to Mustangs, to Corvettes, and Jags in the student parking lots…

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          This weekend I was perusing the local newspaper and there was an add for a “Go Fund Me” for a family that had been involved in a tragic accident (mother killed everyone else severely injured.) As I read the description of the accident that was given I realized the only uninjured person was the infant who was safely strapped in their car seat.

          The I thought. “Really? NONE of you were wearing your seatbelt?”

          Mom and three kids. One of the unbelted kids was almost decapitated.

          Teach your children to buckle up.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            All this begs the question: All of those cars have such good safety records but is it because of the car or the driver that buys these models? I’m of the mindset that if the typcial buyer of these cars became teenagers. they would no longer qualify to be on this list.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          So a 3000lbs GTI is small and tight, but a 3200lbs Accord is lumbering?

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @OzCop wrote:”the basic problem with this is far too many parents are willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for a kids first car, but are reluctant to pay the 400 dollar tab for a proper driver training program that not only teaches control, but concentrates on real world scenarios that cause the potential accident.”

          I could not agree more. The best way to survive an accident is to avoid one. Before I got my license The Old Man took me to the yard where the local Police kept vehicles that had been involved in serious Personal Injury accidents. After time spent viewing the interior of vehicle containing massive traces of blood, hair, etc. I was ‘scared straight’ enough to ensure that I was at least aware of the dangers involved in driving and did not mind attending a ‘defensive driving’ course.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I’m not entire sure how I survived my first year of driving, which was in an ’82
          Subaru with all of 80hp. Several situations that should have resulted in HUGE accidents, and an enormous amount of young and dumb general stupidity.

        • 0 avatar
          ZCD2.7T

          Both of my daughters will have graduated from a “Teen Driver’s Clinic” put on by the local (Chicago) Audi club by the time they have their licenses.

          Cost is $99, BTW.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Not all of today’s kids are wired the same was us gearheads. My daughter hates my GTI, which I otherwise would be handing down to her. She has no use for the power and scoffs at those plaid “bucket seats.” She prefers a kinder and gentler Subaru, filled with dogs and universal love. So my job is to warn her about flimsy timing belts and head gaskets, not raw speed. And how Denver is the highest resale market for Subarus in the country, making them a premium brand, in price at least.

    The other challenge is finding a good CUV for $15,000 or less. The most popular cars of our time, but that’s what fits her outdoorsy lifestyle, not a sedan. Not a tiny car, either, because she needs to use it to move between Denver and her Seattle college twice a year. Not a $2,000 car, because that’s a ticket to endless repairs. Something with stability control, since she’ll be driving in snow or rain at least half the time. My want list is longer than hers!

    So I find myself in the curious position of steering my kid towards a more expensive, newer and faster car than she would otherwise want. We’ll go out shopping next month for Tiguans, CX-5s and RDXs. She can have her Subaru when they learn how to make a reliable engine, or when she’s so well-paid that it doesn’t matter.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I found that today’s kids are more concerned about the latest and the greatest cell phone than they are about what to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Take a look at 2010-2012 Escape Hybrids. Taxi use proven durability and reliability, good MPG, surprising cargo room for its size, stability control and they should be available with AWD for under $15K.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      At 85k my 2013 2.5 Outback engine is fine. At 174k my buddy’s 2010 2.5 Outback engine is fine. Your data may be outdated.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        I hope you’ve done your timing belt ($1500). If your head gaskets are worn (mine were), that’s the time to drop another grand to replace them. Rinse & repeat every 80K, please. If you had waited another year, at least you’d have a timing chain.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          His needed the timing belt but it was nowhere that expensive to do. Mine has a chain.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Subaru t-belt is every 105k, and can be done for much less than $1500 if it is truly just the belt and water pump. What sometimes happens though is that around that time the cam/crank seals might need done, as well as valve cover gaskets, and yes head gaskets can be leaking externally by then, at which point it’s an engine out job.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        My 95,000 mile Subaru Legacy wagon (2006) begs to differ that the power train issues are old hat. Head gasket issues were just the start.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “So my job is to warn her about flimsy timing belts and head gaskets”

      What about warning her about the perpetual CELs, poorly engineered PCV systems, stretching timing chains (way pricier than a replacement belt), and other “fun” systematic VW issues?

      As others have noted, Subaru switched to chains with the new FB engine series, but the anecdotal evidence of late-year EJ motors not having HG issues is just that, anecdotal. Leaks can and do happen right through the end of the production run, as well as crappy wheel bearings and poor rustproofing of certain underbody components (brake lines come to mind).

    • 0 avatar
      ZCD2.7T

      We also drove the CX-5. Despite the love it gets from the motoring press, we found it slow-ish, unrefined and loud. Not to suggest that the zoom-zoom isn’t there – it is – but the compromises required to experience that zoom-zoom were too great for us.

  • avatar
    ajla

    My hypothetical son would get a Camaro. My hypothetical daughter will be taken care of through her Seeking Arrangement profile. So probably a Macan or something.

  • avatar
    Demon Something

    As an Actual Young Person, it seems that most kids these days honestly don’t care what they’re driving or not. Cars are so far removed from youth culture now they don’t care what it is as long as it’s a CUV. Plenty of college kids aspire to CRVs, and one girl took her car in to the shop thinking she had a Honda to learn she actually had a Dodge.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      My Millennial tells me the absolute uncoolest car on campus would be a PT Cruiser. Even though her college is completely tolerant of all varying lifestyles, “You’d be egged every day.”

    • 0 avatar

      I think young people these days live more in cyberspace than in actual concrete reality. Most of my friends and coworkers want the car to do all the safety controls and most of the work. When I suggested that going rallycrossing with me in the gravel can be fun and teach vehicle control skills, or about learning manual transmission, they scoffed (with one exception but he comes from a motorsport family). I know not everyone is like this, but it is the majority.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    My insurance claims kids are much safer (and attentive) when driving their parents car so to “loan” them yours for use instead of buying them one of their own. I don’t have the data to argue with them, and it passes the sniff test.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      After acquiring my licence in 1993 I was handed the keys to a 1982 Celebrity and told: “Keep the “Good Student” discount and I’ll keep paying your insurance (liability only). Oh, and if you’re gonna hit something – hit something cheap.”

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    I don’t believe anyone has yet noted the sloppy-ass, inconsiderate parking in that photo.

    That’s a direct result of 8 years of Democratic bungling.

    • 0 avatar
      kmars2009

      It’s nice to hear you are as stupid as Donald Trump. Jackass!
      Nothing like spouting ALTERNATIVE TRUTHS. Those are called….LIES!

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        I pray that sweet pooch doesn’t catch your distemper!

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        kmars2009…..I’m not exactly a candidate for Mensa either. However ,I can detect sarcasm, and wit in the written word. : )

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Oops! It’s ALTERNATIVE FACTS…MY BAD! Either way, the candidate who won the POPULAR VOTE, was Secretary Clinton.
        The only thing Trump got right? The election WAS rigged.
        My real interest here? How the f#*k did politics ever get mentioned? Talk about going off topic, with a one track mind!
        Also: The dogs name is Cooper, and he’s probably smarter than all of us. He’s a Borador…(Border Collie, Labrador)

        PS. You won’t think Trump is so great when you are consuming radioactive food and pissing blood.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Triggered.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I’d have to see the spacing of the rest of the parking lot before I passed judgement. There’s a strip center near work where it think the model car used for spacing was a Fiat 500. Totally ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Right on, nobody EVER did that before Obama! Must be the work of those durned Democrats of Cobb County, Georgia. Better lock up both of ’em!

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    For where we live, and for what we do, a truck is the vehicle needed for our oldest. He’ll be driving in two years and wants to tow the quads or the boat. He’s checked out on both so it’s no problem. I might give him my 2010 F-150 and buy a new(er) truck when the time comes. The 15.3 MPG won’t let him get too far – or encourage him to give it the beans very often.

  • avatar
    OldWingGuy

    I’m a little surprised at a few comments – fairly recent Acuras or even new Hyundais, etc. My boy is year or so away, but will get hand-me-down vehicles for awhile. Starting with his Grandmother’s 97 worn-out Camry. He will need to drive like there’s an egg on the gas pedal if he wants it to last long. Plus him and I have maintained it for her over the years, so I expect he will treat it half-decently. When he heads to college he can have my 2010 Silverado.
    I like the idea of something worn out that needs to be babied to keep it alive (and hence him) for awhile.
    With the hand-me-downs in the family, at least we know the history of the vehicle, warts and all.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “Grandmother’s 97 worn-out Camry”

      “Plus him and I have maintained it for her over the years, so I expect he will treat it half-decently.”

      I think this is a great way to do it, I followed a very similar path with a ’90 Civic. That car got absolutely pampered. Washed almost weekly, interior kept spotless, rust taken care of each spring, maintenance and repairs performed as needed. Pride of ownership is a powerful thing.

    • 0 avatar
      ZCD2.7T

      Understood. In our case, our older daughter was set to drive my late mother’s 2008 Malibu 2LT (the first modern, good-looking one). Problem for me was that its visibility was really poor, and with the V-6 and FWD, it was WAY too fast for a new driver. 3/4 throttle in even slightly damp conditions was enough to spin the front tires. So, we traded it almost even-up for a new 2012 Kia Soul.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “3/4 throttle in even slightly damp conditions was enough to spin the front tires. ”

        o_O

        Seems a really strange assessment. I clearly remember the 84 horsepower 2.2 Turismo I had in high school could do that.

        • 0 avatar
          ZCD2.7T

          Relative tire sizes likely had something to do with that, and the Turismo certainly didn’t have 250+ lb. ft. of torque at low rpm.

          Suffice to say that it was both too fast and too hard to see out of to make a good first car, IMO.

  • avatar

    Not having children but having been a teenager and wreckless young adult,I think the safest car is either a roadster or a short-cab mini pickup with bucket seats. The most dangerous thing for inexperienced drivers who think they are going to live forever is the in car distraction of more than one passenger.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “I think the safest car is either a roadster or a short-cab mini pickup with bucket seats.”

      Seems quite silly IMO. Firstly, no one really makes a “short-cab mini pickup” any more. Secondly, both of those options I’m guessing are statistically less safe in an accident and have poor traction in rain and snow. Having said that, if I had a son and he wanted to get an older pickup as his first vehicle, I’d be supportive, but I wouldn’t think it was the “safe” choice.

      • 0 avatar

        ” Firstly, no one really makes a “short-cab mini pickup” any more”

        No and most people don’t buy their kid a brand new car and for teens who buy one with their own hard-earned money a mini pickup is right in their price range. Base on my extensive travels, both rural and urban, there is no shortage of survivors.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I’m a believer that a kids first car should be low power and a manual.

    Having a low powered vehicle is the best teacher in assisting the learning of managing a vehicle dynamics.

    I also believe a kid needs to buy and maintain the vehicle. This teaches the kid some very good life skills early, especially getting a job, managing money and importantly value. The kid will be less inclined to trash the vehicle and expecting the parents to foot the bill.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “Your kids might thank you for the purchase when they’re about 35, following years of hindsight.”

    Tough s**t. If I’m buying a car for you, you will be grateful for whatever it is. If it ain’t good enough, you can get a job and buy your own. ‘S like a comedian I heard years ago (I think it was Adele Givens) doing a bit about how her son was complaining he didn’t have the “right” brand of clothes. Her response was “motherf***er you will wear a DRESS if that is what I buy for you!”

    Cripes. Some of the stuff I hear out of my co workers is mind boggling. Their kids EXPECT to be bought cars when they get their licenses, they EXPECT to go on trips every spring break, etc.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    2013 M37? A kid needs a 300+ hp car that can do 0-60 in under 6 seconds?

    I would have been dead in a few weeks if I drove something like that when I was 16.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      There may be hidden motivations at work like retroactive family planning. Still a couple years before college expenses are incurred.

      Also, it’d be like an IQ field test. Survive two years with that car and maybe he’s worth keeping and educating.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Seems a lot of parents are keen on buying their best friends… er, I mean kids… the kind of car *they* would have wanted back in high school.

  • avatar
    cls12vg30

    Hmm. When I was 16 I purchased a rusted out 200k+ mile Datsun, and drove this RWD, no-power-steering tin can on beatup old snowtires in Buffalo winters. Nobody in my family even advised me to put weight in the back. Now I wonder if they loved me as much as they claimed to……

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    So what can $2k get you in the Toronto area? Well after a quick check the following represent the average $2k vehicle.
    1) a 14 year old Taurus, sold ‘as is’ with 102,000 miles (I converted these to Imperial measurements/mileage).
    2) a 15 year old Cavalier with 107,000 miles
    3) a 15 year old Corolla with 149,000 miles.

    To get any of these ‘plated’ and insured so that you could use them on the road they would need to pass Ontario ‘certification’. An automatic fail includes having the ‘check engine’ light on (pollution) or having an air bag light on. And each has been through more than a dozen, salt filled Southern Ontario winters.

    Even once certified, I would not allow either of my daughters to take an extended trip in any of the above.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @Arthur Dailey…I can’t help but agree with you. 13 + years without any rust proofing is enough to make me walk away. In Ontario , with no E test, no certification, your talking scrap metal.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey, I daily drive a 16 year old cars with my kids in it. I saw a 2005 reg Colorado on CL for $1800 with 95k miles. I would point my kid that way.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Those Atlas I4/I5s are nothing but trouble IMO, particularly the first few years. That is really cheap for 95k miles, can’t help but be suspicious of that actually.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah that one likely has some kind of issue but in general the reg cab 2wd ones are worth nothing up here. See them under 3k all the time. I have a coworker who bought one for his daughter (reg cab 4cyl 4wd), he seems to think the 4cyl while not perfect are pretty good but you should steer clear of the 5cyl. 2wd pickups in general have real low values up here. I gather from a friend of my father who runs a wholesale car auction that many get shipped further down the coast (south of DC) for better resale.

          The best deal I found recently might be this one thou.
          https://hartford.craigslist.org/cto/6081371575.html

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Mopar, in my mind at least there is a great deal of difference between my driving a car or letting my kids drive it on their own.

        If it were to suffer a mechanical failure while I was driving then no big deal. At my age, I am easily disposable/replaceable and probably worth more in cash value dead than alive.

        Regarding 2wd pick-ups, not only are they generally overpriced here in Southern Ontario, they are notoriously tough on young drivers in the winter. Those who learned how to drive on a FWD vehicle can have a very ‘eye opening’ experience when they switch to RWD particularly when there is little to no weight in the back end.

        Then there are the crash scores on vehicles like the Ranger which are horrendous.

        • 0 avatar

          There is some difference, but my wife who (and I care about deeply) is not mechanically inclined at all drives an 18 year old car, I just make sure everything is in order for her. On the 2wd yes there are issues, I started with a 2wd van awful in the snow. I think kids can be over protected I try to make sure my kids make the best decisions but let them make mistakes and try to let them live their lives. I don’t let them do what ever they want but seriously I can’t eliminate every risk and it’s pointless trying.

          Honestly when I worked in insurance claims most of the kids hurt or seriously injured were in new or almost brand new cars. It had alot more to do with the kids attitude behind the wheel then anything else. Here are a few I remember that were serious off the top of my head. All below are under 18 year old driver crashes I saw,

          2 year old WRX given as a gift to kid two fatalities two serious injuries.
          1 year old HHR given as a grad present 3 hopsitalized
          4 year old impala borrowed from parents two hospitalized
          2 year old highlander 1 fatality two hospitalized
          2 year old equinox rolled 5 to hospital

          Honestly i wrote plenty of older cars that were damaged by kids but all were at slow speeds. Out of the above a couple involved alcohol and all involved speeds over 80mph on backroads. Now this was 8-10 years ago so stability control etc were not as prevalent but still.

        • 0 avatar

          As a teen I lifted my trucks, went off road and made many potential dangerous mods. My parents never said anything about it honestly which is kind of funny. Now I would likely stop my kid when he decided to remove the sway bars from his jeep for better articulation, but mine didn’t so I feel I’m at least improving the odds a little over what I survived. (might not let him get really aggressive mud tires either, super swampers and rain slicked highway to not go well together.)

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            In the era I learned how to drive in things were certainly different than now. A prime example being the cost of insurance. When I learned, we could easily pay our own insurance with earnings from a part-time job and still have lots left over.

            Now in the Toronto area, you are generally paying over $4k per year for a male driver under the age of 25. More if they have an expensive vehicle or any ‘moving offenses’.

            Our M.O. was, in order to get parental approval, the purchase of the largest D4 sedan with the smallest available engine. Something generally so underpowered and with such poor handling characteristics that if we got into trouble it would probably be at a much lower speed than today’s family vehicles. Plus our bias ply tires would start squeeling in order to provide audible warnings.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Dang, reading some of these posts, I feel like I seriously let my son down and didn’t provide him with adequate transportation as a teen. I only bought him a 1997 Toyota Tercel (we don’t need no stinkin’ power windows or big HP’s!) with 120k on it in 2008. Reckless and thoughtless of me, no? He’s driven that thing all across the country, first after graduating the Air Force Academy and driving the Tercel to Texas, then Oklahoma and finally on to Delaware. At 250k+ on it, he still owns it, despite the fact that he could easily afford something much newer. His pilot-buddies give him a fair amount of heck for driving it, but he couldn’t care less.

    I guess I should have bought him a new 2008 something or another and been a better parent.

    Snark aside, how did we ever live growing up? I was given a hand-me-down 1978 Plymouth Arrow GT. A/C? Pfft…that’s what windows were for! ABS? Nah…just hold onto the wheel and steer into the slide when you lock the wheels! Kids these days…lol.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    My first car, when I wasn’t driving my mom’s 1984 Nissan truck, was a 1968 Firebird that I bought when I was 17. The cost? $680.

    It was on it’s second engine, had 4 drum brakes, the heater core leaked on my feet, and the windshield wipers didn’t work.

    I did a lot of stupid things in that car – my guardian angel was working overtime – and it only had ~200hp or so from the smog-era Pontiac 400 (out of a ’74 Lemans?) in it.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    We recently bought our 16yo a car, and while I was interested in older-but-lower-mileage cars, like a late 1990s or early 2000s four-cylinder Camry, she wanted something with a manual (both my wife and I know how to drive them, so we could teach her), so we ended up with a 2010 Kia Forte Koup EX 5-speed with 103k, for $4,750. It’s a decent car no prior collision damage (unlike some of the other cars we looked at, and it has ESC, seat-mounted airbags and side curtain airbags. The only disappointment so far is the gas mileage, 20-22 around town.

    It’s been almost two months and she’s put less than 1,000 miles on it, so I’m not worried about it getting her through college with just doing scheduled maintenance and replacing wear items.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “The low end of the midsize car category includes the 2011 and newer Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 200. Your kids might thank you for the purchase when they’re about 35, following years of hindsight.”

    16 year old me would have loved a 283hp small/midsize car. These would blow the doors off the 1987 Monte Carlo SS I had in high school when it was stock.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    chalk up another “I was gypped” teenaged sob story. Listening to my friends & co-workers these days, when talking about their kids, I find myself continually shaking my head. I realize it’s a different world today, but geez… it wasn’t that safe back in my day either. Car not safe on long trips… then I didn’t take long trips. Car not safe in a wreck??? better not get in a wreck. I have a co-worker whom leased brand new cars for both of his kids when they started driving. I have a neighbor whose parents bought his kids brand new cars once they started driving. Must be nice, but I think they’re losing some valuable life lessons- being given things so easily.

    I got driving privileges only after I got a job, & could pay gas/insurance. And that was in my great-grandmother’s 1970 Dodge Dart that didn’t have a straight panel on it after granny’s many escapades. I worked 40 hours a week my senior year of high school & still managed to graduate with honors. I worked part/full time all through college, and footed the bill myself. I lived in South Florida for over 10 years before I had a car with working A/C. I was 30 years old before I ever had a brand new set of tires… I thrived on used tires at $10-$20 each. I lived in some VERY crappy apartments… I paid my own bills & did my own taxes… it wasn’t a choice… it was a necessity. Back in the 80s, I paid $350/mo for rent, & I only made $180 a week. You learn to budget real fast… especially when you also have to pay for tuition & books… and drive 70 miles to class. I had a “malaise-era” Pontiac with over 200,000 miles on it that I had to maintain, because I could not afford to replace it. I spent 7 years paying back my student loans… I saved for 10 years to buy a house.

    Like I said… I realize it’s a different world today. But I know “kids” in their 30s still living at home. I don’t blame them… they’ve got it too good. I have many friends whose kids have no sense of direction… because they’ve never had to work for anything… & they know mom & dad will help them out. They just drop out of college & work at Starbucks… & let the folks subsidize their living expenses. It’s a shame. I realize parents just want to do the best for their kids. I say you need to let them FAIL. They need to make mistakes… and deal with the consequences… that’s how you grow. Life isn’t always easy… and frequently isn’t fun.

    End soapbox rant…

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      tell me about it. I work in a fairly sizable building, and my lab is in between a couple of design suites w/ about 100 or so people in each. most of these people like to have their cell phone conversations out in the shared hallway, so I get to overhear some of them. Notable was this guy chewing out his son (again) about how he was 23 now and needed to get his ass in gear.

      I was like “whuh?!? if you’re still having this conversation when he’s 23, someone’s done things very wrong.” I’m not the model of maturity, nor am I a real “go-getter,” but even I had an engineering degree and a job in industry by the time I was 21.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      Great story Cobre427.

      I turned 18 in 1961 and attended a private Catholic HS and even there mostly only the rich kids had cars as seniors. Today you drive by an local HS and the parking lot has hundreds of cars, seems every kid over 16 today has a car(bought by Mom and Dad) to drive to school. How times have changed.

      Back in college in the early 60’s, 700 miles from home the rare kid had a car. Whether in an on campus dorm or off campus housing most kids walked, road bikes or took public transportation. When I was home on break I got to drive the family car when it was available. In senior year I bought my best friends Dad’s car, a ’57 Plymouth Savoy for $40.00. It was clean and ran well but smoked like crazy(needed a ring job). I’d buy 3-4 quarts of oil(about .50cts/qt as I recall) and kept them in the trunk to use as needed. That car got me thru senior year and I sold it for $20.00 when I got home after graduation. My Dad always said, “You don’t need a car at college……you won’t study.”

      My kids who turned 18 in 1987, 1990, 1994, and 2003 respectively had first cars which included old Ford F150 PU’s, old Chevy Impala sedans, and an older Chevy Malibu. My youngest son who graduated college in 2009 was “given” my wife’s 2000 Accord for his college senior year………He is still driving it today even though it has 200k+ miles and he makes a six figure income. He has paid off all his student loans and owns his own home. Needless to say he is far from an auto enthusiast or car snob.

  • avatar
    pipedown

    I took many things into consideration before settling on a 2004 GX470 w/ 170k and brand new Michelin LTX2 tires. Original owner had impeccable maintenance records, it drives extremely well on brand new suspension, and has a fresh timing belt, water pump, and valve clearance check (first time, nothing was out of spec). We live in a very busy suburb of Chicago, and my main concern was getting her into something that relatively safe and highly reliable (hard to go wrong w/ the same drivetrain as a Land Cruiser!). This thing drives and is built like a tank, will last a very long time, very easy maintenance, and decent but not stupid power. It doesn’t drive sporty, it drives planted… Obviously, doing something stupid and getting 5000lbs swinging around is not easily recoverable, but she’s good student and by all accounts a fairly conservative driver. Probably the worst is just the poor fuel economy, but with all of the other boxes checked, I’ll take it.

    $8500, private-party sale, she paid half.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      That will definitely last her a good long while, I’d make it a point to keep a close eye on the frame and stuff like brake lines seeing as you’re up in Chicago. A good undercoating will preserve it very well.

      Can’t beat a Land Cruiser/Prado for beat up roads, it’s the global go-to for those kinds of conditions. The GX470 I test drove with functioning adjustable suspension settings was just sublime set to “Comfort.” Driving one of those through potholed streets is like playing on God Mode.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, I dunno if IIHS wants my kid behind the wheel of our ’03 Buick, but that’s what she’s got!

    • 0 avatar
      Thorshammer_gp

      I can only imagine the horrified look on the face of the IIHS inspector that would’ve seen me in the Honda del Sol or ’01 Grand Prix that I drove at various times in high school, but same deal.

      …Of course, Inspector Mom wasn’t thrilled about the del Sol, either!

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    My first car: ’92 Chevrolet Beretta base model. 2.2 MPFI four-cylinder with 110 screaming horsepower and the 3t40 three-speed automatic. 71,000 miles on it when we bought it for $1,250 in July 2005. The ABS didn’t really work, but it did technically have it. And there was an airbag. Don’t know if it worked, either.

    I’m glad I never wrecked beyond one fender bender.


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