By on December 22, 2016

WRXMountain

I have a few years, certainly, but time seems to move exponentially quicker in relation to the appearance of grey hairs in my beard. So naturally, I’m thinking about my daughters, now 10 and 8, and what they will be driving.

It’s a legitimate concern, as we start to manage the end-of-life on our current fleet, and consider what our next new car will be. I see many parents will hand down an existing family car to their spawn upon reaching driving age, which seems like a great way to ensure you know the maintenance and accident history of what will be protecting your precious spawn.

kids-doing-brakes

When my girls were younger, I declared that I would buy each of them a cheap beater when they were around twelve, and we’d restore it together. My plan had two goals: to ensure they could work on the cars themselves if minor problems occurred while they were away at college, and they’d appreciate the hard work they’d put into the car and thus not destroy it.

My dad and I did some work together on the 10-year-old Maxima he bought for me when I reached driving age, so I figured a 10-to-15-year-old car would work well for my kids. But considering the huge gap in safety between modern cars and those a bit older, I’m not certain I want to risk my kids in an older car.

And stumbling upon this older Subaru commercial on Youtube the other day didn’t help:

The beauty of all-wheel drive! That’s precisely what my kid needs! We do have the occasional, nearly apocalyptic ice and snow storm here in Ohio, after all. An Impreza five-door with EyeSight would be just about perfect, so the kid can haul her snow tires with her to college.

Despite the lead photo, I’m not suggesting my kid get a WRX like Bozi’s car. She doesn’t even vape.

I’m sure I’m missing something. After all, a reader chimed in on Corey’s QOTD yesterday, suggesting the 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer is ideal. I’m not convinced, but I’d welcome suggestions from those who’ve gone through this before, and those who are facing this dilemma in the near future.

[Images: Bozi Tatarevic, Chris Tonn]

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180 Comments on “QOTD: What Car Would You Buy For Your Kid?...”


  • avatar
    3XC

    LOL at “she doesn’t even vape.”

    My first car was a hand me down ’84 Dodge Colt. Maroon with bordello red velour interior, 4 door, auto, A/C, it was the “loaded” version of a rebadged Mitsubishi commuter box. I put it into a tree about 6 weeks after I got my drivers license. I was 16.

    Unlikely that a teen girl would engage in as much high risk (racing) behavior as a teen boy, but yeah, safety before anything else. Even a 60 horsepower engine got me in trouble. I cringe at the thought of teens with the same immature mindset I had at 16 inheriting 280+ horse “family cars” that run 13 second quarter miles and can reach triple digit speeds in the time it takes to read this sentence.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Most of my friends families had the same approach, the biggest vehicle available, which in that era was a D3 sedan, with the smallest engine available.

    So a lot of base model Pontiacs, Chevs, Plymouths.

    Of course things have changed dramatically now and as Chris mentioned many 10 year old mid to higher end vehicles do not have the safety features of brand new, inexpensive, ‘Quebec spec’ base vehicles.

    One friend did find an excellent solution, a manual very low mileage (lease return?) Suzuki SX4.

    • 0 avatar
      boozysmurf

      I am bizarrely infatuated with the Suzuki SX4 AWD with a stick – I saw one the other day, after not thinking about them for years, and had a look around auto trader. Imagine my surprise when I found you can get solid, low-mileage examples in my preferred config (AWD, stick) for 6-10k cdn.

      And then suddenly, I’m seeing two or three a day here in Ottawa.

      These things with some good winter tires must be a hoot. And I kinda feel bad for Suzuki, because they basically anticipated the subcompact CUV craze about eight years too early.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        They’re interesting/funky to look at, apparently not that great to drive/own. My brother’s friend had a short lived 6-month ownership of an SX4 hatch, and was happy when it got totaled out by a deer. He went and got himself a used 5spd ’09 Forester (with a litany of ‘usual’ Subie issues). Subaru has more power, a lot more room, and gets the same fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Arthur Dailey – agreed. A large vehicle with a small engine. When my brother and I were teens my dad paid 1/2 for a pickup for my brother. A Chev reg cab 1/2 ton 4×2 long box with 250 ci I-6 3 speed auto. It was next to impossible to get into trouble with that.

      I’m already starting to look at similar vehicles. A reg cab V6 or a Colorado style truck with 4 banger.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Given my druthers, my daughters would have gotten a late model used Hyundai Elantra. Said daughters and my wife had other ideas, so we wound up with a year old Jeep Patriot.

    More details here: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/08/defense-jeep-patriot/

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Something small, slow, cheap and automatic (preferably CVT). I’d probably take all the passenger seats out of it too unless they had to drive a sibling around.

    On the flip side though I would love to take my kids karting and use racing sims to teach them about at the limit driving. They should be comfortable behind the wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      omer333

      I had a 280zx in high school, one of those two-seaters with t-tops. I’d usually fit four or five people in it. Once I got ten in it with the hatch open.

      The lesson is dope-smoking hooligans find ways around things.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I gave my daughter my old Volvo xc wagon when she got her DL, that lasted a few years and was replaced by another Volvo wagon that she has now, big , safe , and unsexy and fairly slow and paid for, the perfect kid car, I would look for any older volvo, Saab they are safe , drive well and fairly cheap, in fact my boys are fighting over who will get my saab when they get their DL.

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      My first car was a 2007 Volvo XC90. It was very nice, only problem was it was an unreliable POS. Plenty of electrical problems, burn out light bulbs all the time, failing A/C, And that English made 3.2 liter straight 6 was oil consuming mess.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I can tell you what not to do. I received a YJ Wrangler when I got my license in 1998. I’d need two hands to tell you how many times I almost flipped it.

    My daughter is 12, and I’d like her to be in something bigger than a subcompact with airbags and whatnot. She’d like a Kia Soul. While that might not be the pick, I like the idea of a 5-door somethingorother. Quick enough to hopefully get out of trouble, slow enough not to get into too much.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      I’d definitely consider a Soul. Hell, I almost bought one for myself a couple of years ago before I was seduced by a minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        Probably one of the most important steps in this process has been managing my daughter’s expectations, particularly when she was in a private school. For a couple of years I’ve been telling her to take a good look at what’s on the road now because her first car has already been built. It also helps to poke fun at the upperclassmen driving poorly in brand new Range Rovers.

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-Iron

          A friend of mine has a kid in a nationally famous private school. When discussing how snobby the parents were, she said in a voice dripping with scorn “at least 40% of them drive Range Rovers.”

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I have to agree, any Wrangler is probably the worst choice for a first car.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “I like the idea of a 5-door somethingorother.”

      At least think about a 2 seater or a 2+2 with minimal backseat space. The fewer distractions, in this case being their friends, the better.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Meh…Jeeps are designed to Roll Over and are quite good at it. Most of the time, if not done at highway speed, you are good to drive it home. If you have enough help of course to get it back on 4 wheels should you be unlucky enough to not finish the roll and land on the 4.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      The Soul and (unfortunately discontinued) xB are really the right-size cars for single people living on their own. They do nearly everything in a relatively small package, without being disadvantaged in an accident.

      We have a Fiat 500L which is slightly larger but still very compact by American standards. Love the fact that it can fully open its tailgate at home, with the garage door closed.

      A little more fashionable would be the Mini Clubman or Countryman.

  • avatar
    Turbo Is Black Magic

    New VW Golf, safe, not too fast, not too slow, and two wheel drive because when it’s snowing just stay home and enjoy life…

    • 0 avatar
      Eurylokhos

      Agreed. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as my son gets older. The new Golfs are safe, available with a manual (I’ll be damned if he won’t start on a manual transmission), have telematics where you can set boundaries, see vehicle speed, get alerts, and it’ll automagically call 911 if you wad it up. Plus, auto braking to keep him out of an accident and CarPlay/Android Auto so he wouldn’t be texting. Without a doubt, I’d be leasing one tomorrow if he was 16.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      The new Golf is actually pretty fast with the 1.8 TSI. The Jetta with the 1.4 TSI might be a slightly better choice since it does 20 less hp.

      Or you could buy the kid an ’85 Jetta diesel with a manual. That car taught me how to plan passing maneuvers well in advanced and it’s how I learned to drive a manual.

    • 0 avatar
      Stevo

      The Golf is quite fast. It really scoots. I often find myself doing 75 on urban freeways when I borrow my wife’s car. Of course my frame of reference for a car to drive when newly licensed was my Mom’s Squareback, all of 65 horses.

  • avatar
    319583076

    A Miata with a standard transmission – none of her friends will be able to drive it – maximum occupancy: one friend – no problem accelerating in traffic, but it’s not too much power – great brakes – great handling – aesthetically acceptable – easy to work on: teach simple maint/repair – and…Dad gets to drive it, too.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    My oldest is 15, so this is becoming an issue. I am looking for a combination of:
    – inexpensive (because he trashes everything he touches)
    – safe
    – low powered
    – low center of gravity
    – reliable (because he can’t be bothered to maintain or repair his possessions)

    The current candidates are:
    – my current ride, a 12 year old A6. Meets all criteria, except reliability
    – 2013 C-Max. Dorky and $13K
    – Ford Taurus – the current bodystyle, but the cheapest version I can find
    – An older XC70 or S90

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I’d sell you my C-Max if the Bronco was already out.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Adam Tonge – my son wants a Bronco. He’s been in a large number of Wranglers and hates them.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          I don’t know what it’s going to look like. Some say that the exterior design will look very similar to the current Ranger/Everest. Others say that it will be retro looking. Some say it’ll be a little of both.

          What I really want is something Ford isn’t making; a SWB F150 with SuperCab doors and a covered hatch. So hopefully the Bronco looks cool. If it looks like the Ranger/Everest, I’m not buying that.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Adam Tonge – he is in love with some of the artist renderings floating around the net. A full sized Bronco based on the F150 would be cool.

    • 0 avatar
      jefmad

      I’m in the same boat with a 15 year old boy. The considerations for the car are very similar to yours.
      Here are the candidates I have come up with:

      – 2012 -2015 Ford Focus Hatchback. Inexpensive, modern safety, people don’t like the transmission but doesn’t seem to be a reliability problem.
      – Newer VW Golf. I think it would be a good choice but can be very hard to find used.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        I’d recommend you go with the C-Max or try to find a Focus SE with the manual transmission. If you are getting one with the PowerShift transmission, make sure you drive it 20+ miles, and in multiple types of driving condition, before you buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      If reliability is of concern I wouldn’t recommend any out of warranty Volvo’s.

    • 0 avatar

      Japanese cars are your friend, here. Why isn’t a Carolla or Civic on the list? You don’t want this guy destroying a sophisticated hybrid C-Max…he probably does not value a Hybrid car whatsoever (in addition to thinking the C-Max ugly) and there is still a lot of money for it to lose quickly.

      Pick something nearing the bottom of the depreciation curve that’s still safe. A Civic or Accord will work, add leather if you want it to be fancy. The unloved 2008-2012 Accord is pretty cheap these days. It’s just as safe as anything on that list, arguably more fun to drive (in stick) than anything listed there, and won’t break. It also feels fast, but isn’t. The Taurus is lump. It’s fuel hungry, impossible to see out of (he’ll hit a lot of crap), and not slow enough to keep him out of trouble. Poor combo. Giving him the A6 is just asking to get a call at 3AM to come pick him up from the side of a the road.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Probably a Mustang, 3 Series, or Tacoma. Depends on what they would want and assuming they are getting good grades and not a total brat.

    Or they could drive what I drove – 1981 Chevrolet Caprice Classic station wagon, brown diesel (not kidding).

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    This side of the atlantic the biggest concern for young drivers is the cost of insurance – easily $2000/year for third party cover on a 1 litre 3/4 pot eurobox subcompact (Fiat 500 to Fiesta size).

    One loophole is to get them a kit car, for some reason the insurance is dirt cheap (presumably insurers think someone who built their own car is less likely to punt it into another car). So a youngster can have a car that vaguely resembles a Ferrari, Audi TT or Lamborghini for running costs less than that of their friends small hatchbacks.

    What would I like my offspring driving? I’m hoping they’ll be petrolheads, so something interesting that is still easy to insure – a Dhaihatsu Copen or Smart Roadster perhaps? (Be handy for when pappa needs to borrow it! :) )

  • avatar
    philadlj

    If I’m buying, a clean CPO Accord 4-cylinder sedan.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    1. Buy myself a used Hyundai Equus or Lexus LS-L or Q70L/M56L or something like that with a BIG back seat. My daughter is 7 so I guess by the time she is driving age the Volvo S90 and Lincoln Continental will be available used.
    2. Daughter gets to drive it when she is old enough under one condition:
    3. She picks drops me off and picks me up from work for a change.
    4. In exchange she gets to drive it to school and she has some leeway to do with it as she likes.
    5. Always wanted my own chauffeur.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Buying daughter a car with a BIG back seat. Interesting strategy, Cotton, let’s see how it works out for him!

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        I got the same reaction to it from Jalopnik and I have the same answer. I know it’s not a typical attitude, but at 16 she would be pretty much an adult. If she can handle a car, I would assume that she is mature enough to be given some trust. I have no desire to micromanage her life.

        At the end of the day it’s her life not mine. Any mistakes she makes are her own. Of course I will be there to help her out, but she gets to do the actual work.

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      So, kidding aside, it really depends on her. The real question is “why do you want to drive”.

      If the answer to that is “I want to get to school and work and see friends” then get her a used CR-V, RAV4, Camcord, whatever. Something mid sized and safe.

      If the answer to that is “I want to drive because I want to drive”, that is because driving is fun. That is she is following me into the car as a hobby, then I would get her something like a used 4 cylinder Accord Sport. Participate in SCCA auto cross together, that sort of thing It’s mid sized and safe, but also handles well. It’s not fast and far from it. I am a huge proponent of “learn to walk before you run” in regards to cars. My first car was a ’91 Honda Civic sedan with all of 92HP. And I think I learned the most about driving in those first few years flogging that poor thing to wring out each and every last one of those 92 ponies.

      But really the choice of the two paths is entirely up to her, and I have no desire to push her in one direction or the other.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Civic, with a manual.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Assuming a hypothetical where I have kids and don’t already have a collection of cheap beaters…

    I’d hunt down a sub $1,000 Cavalier or Focus on CL, and tell them they can drive it once they fix everything that’s wrong with it.

  • avatar
    RetroGrouch

    Who the hell gives a car to a teenager? You allow them to occasionally drive YOUR 10+ year old retired daily driver only after they ask and if they tell you where they are going, and when they will be back. With any luck, most of their requests will be for transport to and from their part time job and full time summer job which will help pay for adding them to your auto insurance policy.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      People who have spent that last 16 years driving their kid everywhere and are excited to be done with that chore.

      It’s the same with people who act like giving a kid a cell phone is an extravagant luxury; no, it’s a convenience item…MY convenience.

      Also…user name checks out.

      • 0 avatar
        RetroGrouch

        “no, it’s a convenience item…MY convenience.”

        Exactly! They can drive MY car at MY convenience. Giving a child a car implies they have control over the car including when and where it is used. Nope.

        Add don’t get me started on going away to college and the need for a car. I went someplace 700 miles from home and had to use the rideshare bulletin board during those pre-web browser days to find a ride home for winter break. I spent 4 years in that craphole and never saw the airport. Hell, I never saw the sun from October through March. At least my bike was never stolen.

        Now, get off my lawn.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          So you want your kid to have a job, but not the means to get to said job? Okay. Plus, I’d like my daughter to attend a good college, which means she needs to do stuff other than just go to school, like after school activities. Either I can driver her there, I can sit at home because she has my car, or I can get her a car and let her be her own chauffeur. The last is infinitely preferable to me.

          On the subject of needing a car at school; that’s where the lease comes in. Lease a car from 16-18, then when she goes off to school the lease goes back. If she needs a car again after freshman or sophomore year, we can do something else.

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            Leasing for a kids car is a great idea. A kid doesn’t commute, so you’ll be well under the mileage caps on most cars, maybe qualify for some crazy 8k/year promo deal at sub-$150/month.

            On top of that they’ll be in something new with the most modern safety features possible, and in all likelihood never have to worry about the thing breaking down.

            It’s either that, or buying the best condition 4-digit price car you can find – it’ll be new enough to have the right number of airbags, probably be FWD, and still relatively reliable.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Whether my 2 sons drive my vehicle or I “give them” a vehicle, the rule is I have ultimate veto rights over where it goes and when it goes.

          My sons have gotten rather good at using public transit when I’m not available and our town isn’t so large that they can’t bike around but we do get something called winter and that kills the bicycle.

          A vehicle means freedom but with that comes responsibility.

    • 0 avatar
      Turbo Is Black Magic

      I only have really nice, fast cars… I don’t have a boring daily driver… my daily driver is fast, and my weekend car is ludicrous…borderline plaid.

      Therefore she gets a boring car bought for her.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    My kid is 4, so lots could happen between now and then, but I think it will either be A) daughter gets handed whatever I or my wife is driving (midsize sedan or SUV) and we replace, or daughter gets leased something in the inexpensive Civic/CRV class.

    Currently, my daughter says she wants a “pink red car” (She calls my S2000 “red car” so she wants a pink S2000) and if she really still wants that when she’s of driving age and has proven herself responsible, I’d be thrilled to vinyl wrap her one (’06+ with stability control). But the odds she’ll still want what her dad has in 12 years are slim to none.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      My 4 year old would probably choose my wife’s MINI over my FR-S. She does occasionally request to ride in the 4Runner because I made the mistake of putting her in the car seat through the window and she thought that was super cool. Now she wants to go through the window every time. haha

      I’d imagine that an S2000 would be super expensive to get hold of in 12 years. They are already getting expensive because you can’t buy anything like it anymore. I wish I’d bought the silver on red AP2 back in 2010. I’d probably be able to sell it for what I paid today.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        Yeah, there are no guarantees on the S2000, but it’s a pretty nice dream that my daughter will share my passion and want the same car as her old man some day. I currently have her brainwashed that she wants to go to my alma mater, too.

        I have little faith that these things will continue when she’s 14 instead of 4, but again, I can dream :)

        Can’t get her switched from wanting to be a “baby nurse” to wanting to be a “baby doctor” though. Might actually be better off in the future with that though, given the way things are going…

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    My first car was my mom’s 1988 Ford Aeroscare, for which I paid her $600. I was very popular during my friends’ various moves in early adulthood.

    Why not a late-2nd or early 3rd generation Impreza 2.5? I recall reading a firefighter industry magazine article detailing the unexpected difficulties they had taking a can-opener to the pillars; evidently, the frame is heavily reinforced…

    Edit:
    Found the digital version of the article!
    http://www.firehouse.com/article/10503660/subaru-ring-shaped-reinforcement-frame

    http://www.boronextrication.com/2009/11/04/subaru-uhss-and-boron/

    • 0 avatar
      RetroGrouch

      My first car was my father’s E28 535 with 150k miles. I had to write him a check for $4000 and that was after I was working at my first post college job for a few months. Until then, I got by thanks to borrowing a car from mom when I couldn’t or wouldn’t ride the 13 miles on my bike. I briefly considered financing a new VW something but realized I was not happy with $300/month after plunking several thousand down.

      The E28 price was cheap but the car was not a bargain. It needed almost everything: control arms, bushings, AC compressor, rotors and pads, a diff, clutch slave, cat back exhaust, seats, etc.

      Sadly, the BMW illness is still with me after ~14 of them.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I had a 93 that I bought in 05 for $700. It was this gross turqouise over beige Eddie Bauer Edition and the mileage was shite (8-10 mpg).

      I loved that thing because it was mine and I didnt have to ask anybody to use it. Paid for it myself, after saving the money to take driver’s ed, and insured it myself. There was never any expectation that my parents would shell out for even a cheap used car. In fact I was the only one to get my license on time and to have my own car. As the youngest of 3 my brothers pretty much hated me because I managed to get my license and a car before they did.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    It wouldn’t likely be a “new” anything. My 1982 Chevy Celebrity was more than a decade old by the time it fell into my hands and even with Iron Duke power I managed to get all four wheels off the ground during a top speed backroad run.

    If it had to be new I’d likely pick a manual transmission Impreza sedan. Safe, relatively slow, and I can guarantee that most of the class wouldn’t know the first damn thing about how to drive stick.

    If I wanted it to be big and fairly safe I’d pick up the last of the W-Impalas with the 3.5 V6. The Ws still had solid crash ratings at the end and the 3.5 only put down a mighty 215 hp tied to an ancient 4-speed auto.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      Our older daughter got her license recently at age 20, and within a year will probably have a need for her own car – and that’s exactly what I had been thinking: a new manual Impreza. We have several older Subarus (including one automatic) and I believe they’re structurally among the safest cars out there – having been broadsided once in the right rear of our ’03 Legacy wagon by someone running a red light – but those cars have none of the current safety features. She doesn’t yet know how to drive stick, so this would be an incentive to do so.

  • avatar
    evolver

    My 7 year-old daughter has picked out a red Cadillac ATS-V… “That one would be ok daddy” Oh OK.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost
    Kia Soul
    Chevy Cruze
    Honda Fit
    Honda Civic with weakest engine
    2.5L Ford Fusion
    I-4 Honda Accord

    If I’m ever blessed with children, I do plan to go the “lets fix up an old car together” route. But, the old car would be like a weekend toy and the child would drive a newer/safer car to school etc. most of the time.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    2012 Lincoln MKZ

    Here are two examples I could probably get for much lower that the $15K stickers:

    http://varsitylincoln.com/Detroit-Metro/For-Sale/Used-Certified/Lincoln/MKZ/2012-Ultimate-Blue-Car/50635209/

    http://varsitylincoln.com/Detroit-Metro/For-Sale/Used-Certified/Lincoln/MKZ/2012-Hybrid-Silver-Car/50833381/

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    MY06-14 Volvo P3 platform, not touching anything beyond MY14.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    When our son turned 16, I didn’t buy him a car, but a “third vehicle” for the family. A 1983 Ford Ranger. Later, he traded it for a 1988 Dodge Daytona. One piece of junk for another – the Ford was just old, but the Dodge really was garbage. He learned the hard way. He’s had good cars ever since.

    When our daughter needed a vehicle to get to work and back, We turned over our 1990 Acclaim, for I bought a 1996 Ranger.

    After she had one too many accidents, we picked up a 1997 Cavalier. She LOVED it and never put a scratch on it. When she bought herself a new car, we sold it to one of our neighbors who drove it for years.

  • avatar
    HeyILikemySaturnOK

    I am struggling with this issue myself. I have daughter who will be driving age in a few years and I don’t really feel too comfortable about her taking either of our current family cars.

    I like the safety features in a lot of newer cars so, one option i am considering is to buy a new daily driver for myself that i would feel ok about eventually giving my daughter when she gets her license. Something that is reliable (easy to maintain),fairly easy to maneuver and park, gets great MPG, not too fast but not too slow to the point that merging is a white-knuckle experience, and something with good visibility.

    Some potential choices: Toyota Yaris iA (all the safety features some with the base trim), Hyundai Elantra, Chevy Cruze, Kia Soul.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Those are some small cars on your list. Personally, I’d like my kid to have more heft around him. In an accident, all the modern electronic nannies won’t help nearly as much as steel.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        It’s much cheaper and safer for everyone to teach your children how to drive responsibly and avoid accidents.

        • 0 avatar
          HeyILikemySaturnOK

          Certainly true, but having some additional safety tech should complement good driving skills not replace them.

        • 0 avatar
          everybodyhatesscott

          Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.

          I think driving is similar. You can try and teach them and it certainly won’t hurt but the 2nd nature of seeing something before it happens is by driving a lot.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          I’m with you on this. In addition to pointing out car accidents and explaining that it’s likely inattentiveness causing those to happen, driving schools will be part of their driver’s ed in addition to the yacking they get to hear from me on safe driving.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          319583076 – Really?
          For most people, driving is the most dangerous task they will ever perform.
          Learning how to drive safely and responsibly takes MILEAGE.
          You can give them all of the tools but that matters little without experience.

          When do most casualties occur in war and to whom?
          Driving is no different.

          Another problem that arises is the fact that 1/3 of drivers shouldn’t have a licence and over 60% are just fair to average. That means over 90% of drivers don’t have the skills themselves to be teaching anyone to drive.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            You have a severely distorted, and completely incorrect, understanding of the risks people face in 2016.

            The remainder of your fundamentally deficient post is characterized by an appalling lack of coherence, a tenuous grasp of language, and a distressing display of innumeracy.

            Have you recently suffered some form of head injury or are you simply inebriated?

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            319583076 – 27 years in health care gives me a front row seat when it comes to “understanding of the risks people face in 2016.”

            People are woefully poor judges of risk, that is especially true with young drivers.

            Accidents are the 4th most common form of death in the USA.

            “4. Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
            These include nontransport accidents, such as falls (30,208) accidental poisonings (38,851) and transport accidents, the majority of which are motor-vehicle accidents (37,938).”

            Your “argumentum ad hominem” only strengthens my point of view.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            I can now add “logical fallacies” to the list of things you obviously don’t understand.

            For those keeping score at home, the list includes; “logical fallacies”, “risk”, “math”, “constructing an argument”, and “critical thinking”.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            319583076 – please point out where my logic is flawed.

            Merry Christmas.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            Lou, I wish we could spend a few hours enjoying a drink or two and each other’s company. In the interest of furthering this discussion without me spending all night addressing our differences point by point, I’m going to point you to some references that you can access at your leisure or ignore by your volition.

            Risk: I think Bernard Cohen did a lot of solid work. It’s not recent, but I’ve cross-checked his compendium against recent data and the rankings, trends, and conclusions seem to hold.

            http://www.jpands.org/vol8no2/cohen.pdf
            https://www.ohio.edu/riskandsafety/docs/02_risk_factors.pdf
            http://ecolo.org/documents/documents_in_english/Bernard.Cohen.rankRisks.htm
            http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter8.html

            Math: Given our topic and your attempt at citing statistics, I recommend “Probability, Statistics, and Decision for Civil Engineers” by Cornell and Benjamin. They develop the math from scratch and use practical examples from Civil Engineering to reinforce and solve problems – many of those problems are transportation-related. Others relate to infrequent, but catastrophic events such as floods, storms, or earthquakes. Working through a portion of this book would reinforce constructing an argument and critical thinking – in my opinion. (used copies might go much cheaper than the Dover paperback edition)

            https://www.amazon.com/Probability-Statistics-Decision-Engineers-Engineering-ebook/dp/B00MAVFQ3S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482457164&sr=1-1&keywords=cornell+benjamin+dover

            Logical fallacies: I found it funny that you started your post with the Appeal to Authority and concluded by accusing me of an Ad hominem. I don’t consider my comment an ad hominem, but I will admit that I didn’t support my assertions other than by the implying that they were correct based on empirical evidence.

            Merry Christmas to you and yours!

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            319583076 – the links are interesting but they do not show that I’m incorrect.

            This whole exchange started with your comment, “It’s much cheaper and safer for everyone to teach your children how to drive responsibly and avoid accidents.”
            While I do agree with that point, statistically driver’s Ed has had negligible if any impact on crash rates among new drivers. Some evidence indicates it makes things worse. Graduated driving licence levels has slightly better results especially when combined with Driver’s Ed.
            http:// www. sciencedirect. com/science/ article/ pii/S0386111211000021

            “You have a severely distorted, and completely incorrect, understanding of the risks people face in 2016.
            The remainder of your fundamentally deficient post is characterized by an appalling lack of coherence, a tenuous grasp of language, and a distressing display of innumeracy.
            Have you recently suffered some form of head injury or are you simply inebriated?”

            “A logical fallacy in which an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.”

            My initial comment still stands. While driver’s education and graduated licencing helps, there is no substitute for experience which is gained by driving i.e. mileage.

            The other point is that the majority of drivers don’t have the skills to teach driving also stands. 87% of drivers admit to unsafe driving practices. That is pretty close to my comment, “Another problem that arises is the fact that 1/3 of drivers shouldn’t have a licence and over 60% are just fair to average. That means over 90% of drivers don’t have the skills themselves to be teaching anyone to drive.”
            http: //newsroom. aaa.com/ 2016/02/87- percent-of-drivers-engage-in-unsafe-behaviors-while-behind-the-wheel/

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            When faced with the choice of changing one’s mind or proving no change is necessary – nearly everyone gets busy on the proof.

            Your choice has been noted, good luck.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @319583076 – “When faced with the choice of changing one’s mind or proving no change is necessary – nearly everyone gets busy on the proof.”

            Thank you for explaining why your link filled post missed the mark.

      • 0 avatar
        syncro87

        re: VoGo

        My 5 month pregnant wife was on the interstate one day 7 years ago when traffic stopped due to some screw up somewhere ahead. The driver of the 18 wheeler behind her wasn’t paying attention and only noticed that traffic had stopped at the last second.

        Long story short, semi hit her Honda Civic (2008 model if I recall) going somewhere around 50 according to the law enforcement estimates. Semi vs. stationary Honda Civic, rear ended car at 50+mph.

        The Civic was smashed into the F-150 crew cab ahead of her, and the F-series was pushed into a minivan of some sort, I believe a Saturn Relay. The Relay was hit hard enough to push it off the road despite being stopped with the driver’s foot on the brakes. Civic sandwich with a slice of semi truck and F-series on either end.

        The Civic deformed exactly as you hear the engineers say they will in an accident. From the rear seat back was gone, and most everything from the windshield forward was complete toast.

        The passenger cell was, however, remarkably intact. The rear window was blown out, the airbags went off of course, and the driver’s door was a little bit stiff to open due to the fender being pushed into it. But all in all, it was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen when I got there. She had called me from inside the car, and it was only a 10 minute drive from our house to the scene.

        Wife was taken to the ED, checked out. Minor abrasion to face from the airbag. Right thumb was sore from being hyper extended a bit from same airbag deployment. Minor scratch on one knee. She walked out and went home after being observed for a couple hours. They were a bit paranoid due to preggo, etc.

        To add to this anecdote, I work in an ED in a decent sized hospital with a Level 2 trauma center. We get MVCs in all the time. We usually hear what kind of car the person was driving and details of the accident from the EMS folks that bring them in.

        If the patient was in a modern compact car with multiple airbags, and was wearing a seat belt, I’ve been impressed time and time again how well they fare in serious accidents.

        I wouldn’t hesitate to put my kid in a modern car the size of a Corolla or Civic at all based on what I’ve seen. New small cars like this are probably safer than older, larger cars.

        By the way, I largely agree with poster 319583076.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          syncro,
          I’m glad you’re wife and baby were OK. That must have been a crazy day.

          I agree that modern compacts are good in an accident, a lot better than in years past.

          That said, if I could swing the $, I’d go up a size, esp. for a vulnerable/ inexperienced driver, like a teenager.

          • 0 avatar
            HeyILikemySaturnOK

            @ VoGo – “That said, if I could swing the $, I’d go up a size, esp. for a vulnerable/ inexperienced driver, like a teenager.”

            That’s not a bad idea either – go to a midsize sedan or something and get most of the benefits of the compact but with more “substance”.

          • 0 avatar
            3XC

            The thick, sightline blocking, and usually ugly A pillars in modern compacts save lives. Its basically a load bearing, force distributing safety feature, even accounting for the reduced visibility which is of course, a potential cause of a crash.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @syncro87: Glad to hear that everyone escaped safe and healthy. Thanks very much for that story and information.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Small cars do fine with front and rear collisions but don’t fare as well with broadsides. That is a big reason why I’d prefer a larger vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        HeyILikemySaturnOK

        @ VoGo – Yeah, that is a fair point and it has crossed my mind, but I’ve never liked driving large vehicles due to their driving characteristics and greater fuel consumption. In some cases, larger vehicles do not necessary do better in crash tests and have a higher chance of rollover than smaller vehicles.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I’ve seen other folks insulate their progeny with nice relatively new vehicles and watched as these kids abused these cars; they had no “sweat equity” in ’em. These kids seemed to take the experience of driving for granted without understanding that there was more to the story. I wanted to give my daughters the total experience of automobiles when they arrived at the driving age. I purchased a hunk of Detroit iron, an ’85 Grand Prix with an automatic tranny and the 5.0 V8 (and it’s wonderful electronic Quadrajunk carb). The car was big. It was safe (for that period of time). It was only reliable if it were maintained daily as it used oil in copious quantities, had a slow leak in a rear tire (tires had plenty of life in ’em but one had a slow leak) and the water pump was weeping like a housewife peeling onions while watching “As The World Turns”. They also learned to drive a stick in my Chevy C-1500 but used the Grand Prix for daily driving excursions. Plenty of oil in it? Nope, add a quart. Is there water in it? Get out the water hose and top it off. Oh, and plug the little buzzy air pump into the lighter socket and fill/check the tire pressures. Every morning – there would occasionally be some conflicts as to which girl was responsible for the maintenance that day/hour/minute (“I did it yesterday. It’s your turn.” “No you didn’t. I’ve done it the last two times.”) – the car got serviced. Worked out pretty well for a couple years with only one major catastrophe – froze up and ruptured the radiator one winter due to a failure to add some antifreeze along with that water. Cost me $75 for a radiator and about an hour to replace it. Advantages? All my daughters (there are three total) are fairly well-rounded in automobile use, care and feeding. Two daughters drive manuals and do their own maintenance (one rebuilt her leaking 3.1 V6 in her old Malibu and recently replaced the front control arms and struts on her junker second-car Cavalier). YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “I’ve seen other folks insulate their progeny with nice relatively new vehicles and watched as these kids abused these cars; they had no “sweat equity” in ’em. These kids seemed to take the experience of driving for granted without understanding that there was more to the story.”

      It’s entirely dependent on the kid and the circumstances. My wife was given two brand new vehicles over time and had access to several more $$$ expensive ones (loaded Grand Cherokees). She took great care of them, got her car washed at almost every gas stop, etc.

      I scrimped and saved and begged borrowed and stole to buy a 1990 Geo in 1998, which I later smashed into a tree playing rally driver on a dirt back road.

      You try your best to raise your kid right and hopefully they see a car given to them as a great privilege and advantage and are appreciative. I also will be doing my best to give my kid a free college education that costs far more than her car ever will, and will raise her to be appreciative of that as well.

      I also think as car guys we over emphasize the meaning of a car and put a lot of weight on it. For a lot of people, it’s just one more tool to provide a kid, no different than tuition or a laptop or whatever.

    • 0 avatar
      Turbo Is Black Magic

      I think it’s more about how you raise your kid. I was given a new Trans Am in high school… waxed it every two weeks, parked far away from everyone, drove safe on the street, and yes took it to the drag strip every Friday night for High School kids race free night… and Dad was there to cheer me on and help.

      Still have it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “I think it’s more about how you raise your kid.”

        I fully agree.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          That’s just the thing of it. I was fortunate enough to be given a brand new car when I was 15. It wasn’t fancy, but it was nice enough and lasted me through high school, college, grad school, and a couple years as a working professional. During those times, money was tight and it was a godsend to have paid-for reliable transportation until I had some REAL income.

          I don’t see anything wrong with parents giving their kids a head start like that. The car doesn’t have to be brand new, but should be something substantial.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Daddy don’t fix cars. That’s what happens when your own father is a mechanic and doesn’t want you to follow in his footsteps. So, no beater fixer uppers for the teen driver.

    5-year old base midsize sedan or CUV of any brand with decent reliability. Boring, relatively inexpensive, and enough mass to be reasonably safe in a wreck. A cheapo 0-down lease might work as well.

  • avatar
    syncro87

    Manual Impreza, Civic, Corolla, iM, Focus, etc. Used but with life left, say 5-6 years old. Manual means she learns and friends likely can’t borrow. I’d probably avoid a CVT on anything used with significant miles on it, as I view higher miles CVTs as a bit of a gamble.

    Brand new makes little sense to me. Why take that kind of depreciation hit on a first car for a kid? You can get a perfectly good used car for them that is plenty safe. Not to mention the ridiculous annual property tax we pay here on cars. No point taking that beating annually for your kid’s car.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Shopping for a manual will limit your choices quite a bit. If the child really wants one, it’s certainly worth going out of your way for, but otherwise it’s not worth the bother.

      My daughters have express instruction not to let anyone outside of the family to drive their car. If I couldn’t trust them to honor this rule, I couldn’t trust them to drive at all.

      • 0 avatar
        syncro87

        Good point on the trust issue.

        One of the other reasons to get a stick is that you can generally steal them on the used market due to low demand. So with the same $, I can get her a nicer or newer car.

        By the time my daughter will be driving, all the 5 year old cars that aren’t stick will be CVT. I’d rather avoid a higher miles CVT car if I can. Less risk, a clutch replacement is a pretty known quantity if you have to do it. CVT failure is big bucks.

        As far as choices, eh, I see stick shift econo sedans pop up on Craigs with reasonable frequency in my area. You can still buy a lot of them new today. Fairly sure I can find here something suitable when the time comes. It’s not like I’ll be looking for a total unicorn.

        A used Camry or something with a torque converter auto would be acceptable.

        I should have stated it differently. A stick would be a bonus to me as my kid’s first car for a number of reasons, none of which on their own are huge but in sum are significant. Their friends won’t pressure them to borrow it. I can buy a nicer or better stick car used, most likely, vs auto equivalent. Lower risk vs. old CVT car. I want my kid to learn stick anyway. Etc.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I have two young men and we will be crossing this bridge in a few years as well.

    Currently the plan is a Ford Ranger regular cab. Made from 1992-2012(?) or so. Parts are almost universal between them, reliable, cheap, and they made MILLIONS of them. Crash parts won’t be hard to find.

    Of course they will have a 5 MT no exceptions with hopes it keeps the texting to a minimum + the added bonus their friends won’t know how to drive it, so no one will borrow it. No BLUTooth so no talking on the phone while driving.
    Learn to drive a rear wheel drive car in poor weather conditions, those skills transfer to fwd cars but I feel make you a better long term (safer) driver.

    Added bonus, when they go to college they can pack their own stuff.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Just like my parents did, I made them buy their own cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Yeah, my parents did that and I ended up with a POS that broke down a lot. They then helped me buy a better vehicle a year later. I’d prefer to just skip the first step and get my daughter a reliable set of wheels. Having a POS first car didn’t make me a better person. It just made me late.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Camry LE 4 cylinder.

    Easy to find a used creampuff, cheap, reliable, safe, efficient, cheap to fix.

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      Winner! Camry / Accord / Corolla / Civic for all of the reasons Nels said. I enjoy working on my own car, I don’t want to be working on kid’s, wife’s, sister’s, brother’s etc FOR FREE!. No thanks.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Agreed as above, it’s just a tool. If they want to make a lifestyle statement later they can do so at their own expense.

    My boy is 16, learning to drive in the shorty Caravan. He gets nothing now, when the time comes for college commute or summer job we’ll think 5 year old Focus with manual transmission, or equivalent.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Fiat 500L. To celebrate their East European heritage.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    This is how I did it.

    My kids are 23 and 26; we’ve gotten past those early years with no major damage to either the cars or the kids. My younger one didn’t even drive regularly until she was 20, she depended upon friends and family to get her around. She bummed a lot of rides from co-workers, but didn’t save any money.

    I started both of my kids working on the car when they were young, by the time they were driving age, they knew how to change a flat tire, change the oil, check vital fluids, check tire air pressure, change the front brake pads and jump start a car. My older kid is mechanically inclined loved doing that stuff. My younger did not, but humored her father. It came in handy to have that knowledge last week when her car wouldn’t start. She got a neighbor to “donate” some electricity from their car to get her car started. I was so proud of her being able to handle that task, especially that she hasn’t done it in several years.

    Both my kids used my old Cavalier as their first driver. My older one was/is a more aggressive driver, but she understood the car was my property and it was her privilege to use it. It came back from college with only two dents. My younger had the car for a couple of years, while getting established, jobs, apartments, etc. She’s a much more timid driver, so nothing happened to it in her stewardship. I guess all of those talks about a car being a 2800 lb. weapon had an effect on her.

    Another thing I impressed on the girls vis-a-vis drinking and partying and driving was the same thing my mother told me at that age: You get yourself in trouble, you get yourself out. I offered to do one thing my mother wouldn’t that was: to call me anytime night or day if you didn’t think you were capable of driving safely.

    The Cavalier was fairly ancient and gutless, not real big so they wouldn’t get a car load of buddies and go out hooning. The 2.2 wasn’t speed demon but it did return good mileage. For a 1997 model, it had anti lock, air bags, remote and central locking, which I really liked. The girls could open the door from a short distance away from the car and get right in without having to fiddle with the key. Once in, they immediately could lock the doors and be relatively safe.

    I like to think that the time I took to teach them how to work on the cars and how to drive has helped them by now.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Easy. A 2007-2010 Hyundai Elantra. Dirt simple, reliable and well screwed together – even as it ages. Slow, easy to see out of, and has just enough room for friends and all the kid stuff. And cheap to buy. Get the upper trim SE to have the traction control.

  • avatar
    ADent

    Manual transmission: 1) More involving 2) Hard to text and shift 3) Reduces chance of anyone else driving the car.

    0-60: Ideally in the 8-10 second range

    Age: For boys doesn’t matter too much, newer is safer.

    Repairs: I pay for parts if they do the labor.

    Size: Bigger is better. Wife wouldn’t allow wagon or van.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    My wife doesn’t even have a car for now (we only have one parking spot), so the odds of us being able to afford to have children, and upgrade to a place with 3+ parking spots (ain’t no kid getting a car before its mother), and afford a third car is rather unlikely. They get a bus pass and/or a bicycle. If they want to get a 125/250 motorcycle, I’m happy to have that conversation (but I’ll see to it they take the rider safety courses and get all the gear).

    IF I have children, and end up living somewhere that allows for a third car (inevitably somewhere that necessitates a car to do ANYTHING, something I’d prefer to avoid), it wouldn’t be for 17+ years, so it probably hasn’t been built yet. Probably something compact, and probably a hand-me-down where my wife or I take that as an opportunity to replace one of our cars.

  • avatar
    readallover

    For my imaginary daughter the choice is easy: A Checker Marathon with the Chevy inline 6.
    Undeniably uncool.
    Easy to fix and maintain.
    Several tons of metal between her and the outside world.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    My older kid is only 2 (and the younger one is a newborn), so who knows what will happen between now and then.

    High school is within easy bus/walk distance, so he won’t need a car to commute.

    He may or may not care about cars.

    If he does, I’ll help him save some money, and probably throw in some myself too. He has to help me get quotes for insurance, which will rule out most of the cars that are a really bad idea. The only things I’ll veto will be cars that are too fast for a new driver (I’d peg that around 6.5s to 60) and cars that lack modern safety features or have poor safety records.

    If he doesn’t, he can borrow whatever we’re driving, as long as it’s safe for a new driver. We won’t have the same cars then that we do now, but of our current cars the C-Max is perfect. The LS460 is a bit too capable and easy to get into trouble with, especially because the extreme quiet and smoothness disguises speed really well.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    My eldest just turned 12. My 2014 Elantra GT 6spd I’ve had for 26 months and just over 31k miles. You can see where this is going.

    My other daughter is 8-1/2. If I replace my Elantra with a late-model used car in 4 years it’ll probably become hers. I probably won’t get anything new for a while because momma’s Odyssey is knocking on 190k and the power steering whines more than my kids, so she’s going to need a new family whip.

    My son’s turning 4 in less than a month, so the next mom car (thinking Durango or a 3/4-ton pickup, maybe a diesel 1/2-ton) would likely become his after it gets replaced.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Forgot to add-

      My parents bought me a 1988 Dodge Ramcharger 2wd a month before I turned 16. It was in relatively good repair, had about 65k miles on it, and had been owned by a neighbor (but one whom we didn’t know well) since new. With a curb weight of nearly 5k lbs and 120hp on tap (and a 3.21 rear gear) it wasn’t remotely fast.

      My parents had told me for years if I wanted a car at 16 I’d better buy it myself. Once I started car shopping in earnest they saw the error of their ways. They bought the truck at the high end of my budget, but used their money so they could stop me from buying a ratted-out muscle car.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Used low buck Nissan Leaf has to be a top contender for student wheels.

    I’m about 5 years away from (probably) dispensing grandchild cars, and the Leaf is definitely on my list.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    My criteria would be IIHS top safety pick, good mpg, reliable and not too fast. Basically, a Honda or Toyota, probably a Civic, Corolla, or Prius.

  • avatar

    I hope you live where they don’t salt the roads – because otherwise any used Subaru you wind up buying will be a rotted out heap of shit underneath.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    I’m right there, right now. My only child has been good and patient, making it halfway through her sophomore year of college without a vehicle, and she’s saved $4000 in income, grandparent gifts and unspent mad money. A car would really expand her universe, which includes trip to the mountains and long commutes to intramural sporting events.

    So we’ve found her a car– a 2005 Passat GLX 4-Motion wagon with a hundred-and-a-half on the clock. Before you gag and exclaim, “I wouldn’t send a kid out in a crate like that,” let me explain.

    This car belongs to my trusted mechanic, who’s using it as a winter car for a family ski trip to Steamboat on this very day. If he trusts it with his family, I trust it with the best part of mine. He’s owned it for one year, and serviced it for five years before that. He swears that it needs no work at the moment. The timing belt, control arms and other Passat trouble spots have been addressed. The asking price, $4500, seems below market, and well below the “safe choice” of a Forester or Outback of similar vintage.

    This Passat might not have a sterling Asiatic reputation for trouble-free service, but has what they call “provenance.” We know where its coming from, and how it’s been treated. No other car on any other sales lot would bring that to the table.

    When I compare this solid, roomy, semi-luxury car to the Italian roadster that I bought with my own $700 in 1968, I can only think, ” I wouldn’t send a kid out in a crate like that.” But I’m glad I got to do it!

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      I sold those Passats when they were new. My sis still has a 4 mo 1.8t stick shift wagon.

      They were, in general, turds from a maintenance, repair, and cost to keep on the road perspective. They are virtually worthless on the used market, since most people realize that they are likely money pits.

      Those Passats were fraught with all kinds of bugaboos. Most of which were not catastrophic, but were a pain or expensive or both.

      They drive nice. They were safe for their day, and felt premium. But even as a life long VW fan who has owned just about everything VW ever made, I’d shy away from a decade old Passat.

      Well, let me qualify that. I’d perhaps take one on, but it would have to be cheap, as almost certainly it would cost me some money per year no matter how good the provenance was. Frankly, $4500 would be highway robbery in my area for the best 2005 Passat in the universe. Even for one that came with service records, up to date maintenance, etc. A perfect one is probably a $3000/3500 car in my area if a rainbow came out of the sky with a unicorn sliding down it. More likely $2500-3k even in really nice shape and with records.

      I’m being overly pessimistic, but man, I sold so many of them new that ended up being turds it was ridiculous. Most of the VW-heads I know won’t touch old Passats with a 10 foot pole, even the handy ones who can work on them themselves.

      I humbly submit, in the interest of saving you money, that a random Toyota off Craigs purchased with even a modicum of attention to history and service records would be a dramatically safer investment than any 2005 Passat on Earth.

      • 0 avatar
        Chan

        Well, you held back very courteously. Tell us how you really feel…LOL

        Cheers,
        Former B5 Passat owner

        • 0 avatar
          syncro87

          I don’t think I was rude or out of line. Just voicing an honest opinion without sugar coating it. I wouldn’t recommend a B5 Passat to someone I didn’t like, let alone someone I had respect for on a forum/website I enjoy.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        Maybe I should be shopping where you live. East Coast, perhaps? Here in Denver, AWD brings a hefty premium. Autotrader.com is showing two comparable 4motion wagons, each at $7500. Subaru Foresters bring about the same price, leaky head gaskets and all.

        This is the last year of production, so some of the bugs have been worked out, and its a V6, a well-regarded engine.

        I hear your warnings, and I could tell some horror stories of my own. Just to make us both feel better, I’ll throw in an AAA membership.

        • 0 avatar
          never_follow

          As someone who owns basically the same car (A6 quattro wagon with the 2.late), it’s a perfect car for the inexperienced driver – which is why it’s my wife’s car.

          My car has similar mileage, and while the front end is on it’s last clunky legs, the rest of the car has been rock solid, if thirsty. I’ve owned the car for a year and about 30k miles, and other than maintenance (oil, filters, brake pads etc…) , it’s needed both outer cv boots and a fuel pump, easy DIY jobs.

          Best of all, B5 Passats were popular, and as most of the mechanicals are shared, you can fix it for cheap at the junkers.

  • avatar
    Chan

    If I had a 16-year-old boy (my real kid is much younger), I think the Toyota Corolla iM (formerly Scion iM) would be my pick. Manual, so he learns to respect the mechanical connections between his limbs and the road. And so his friends can’t borrow it.

    It’s not sharp enough to encourage him to drive hard. It’s not fast enough to encourage him to do “runs”. But it’s got all the features in a practical, respectable-looking package.

    It’s a Toyota, so it can be beat on and not drain my bank account or his.

    My parents entrusted me with a B5 Passat 2.8. All I can say is, it was too much car for me, and on top of that it also averaged over $1k a year to maintain and fix. I don’t know how those M3 kids in my high school survived.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Size does matter. New drivers have a hard time judging where the corners of their vehicles are, and the larger the car, the more likely it is that they’ll bump into someone in a parking situation. While this isn’t usually hazardous to anyone’s well being, the same can’t be said for a parent’s financial health.

    I’d recommend something in the compact size range. As always, YMMV.

  • avatar
    IndySam

    Went through this very exercise a couple of years ago. Way harder than buying a car for myself, ended up looking at every website I could find, and found a site that was developed by a former auto engineer, and takes into account all the ratings sites, as well as weight and death rates per vehicle. Didn’t know that crash rating are based on crashing into cars of a similar size. The site is; http://www.informedforlife.org I ended up putting my daughter into a 2015 Mazda CX5. Great car, and every winter, I put Snow Tires on it. I started out with the same idea of getting a big beater but couldn’t imagine not getting the safest car I could. The CX5 has been a great car and I see it getting her through college.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    If my oldest was in high school & needed a car to get around for work, school activities/sports, easy, a used Leaf. BAM!

  • avatar
    colin42

    Honda CR-Z with manual

  • avatar
    BrunoT

    No brainer. 2 year old pre-owned Volvo S60 T4.

    1. Very safe
    2. Very good fuel economy
    3. Comfortable.
    4. Useable back seat.
    5. Around $20K with low miles and 2 years warranty remaining.
    6. Standard low speed collision prevention system for naughty texters.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    My almost 16-year-old is funny in that I practically have to beg her to drive – she really has no interest. While we’ve “practiced” in our neighborhood for the last 4 years, and she’s quite adept with both an automatic and the Saab’s 6-speed, she’s reticent to willingly drive anywhere.

    She loves the Nissan Juke, which might be the right size for her (as hideous as I think it looks…). I’m kind of hoping the next gen HR-V will be a little more polished….or maybe the Cross-Trek.

    I’m not ready for this but here it comes….

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    After my first kid got too many tickets in his $1000 ’99 Crown Vic, I decided the next kid (to his dismay) would absolutely NOT get a V8. He chose a $1500 ’02 Mustang V6. It’s been an excellent cheap purchase. The insurance is low, the mileage is decent, parts are dead cheap at Pull-A-Part and RockAuto, and it’s been easy to work on. It’s now about a $2000 car.

    My daughter is getting the ’06 Beetle TDI I bought my wife by default (wife hates it) and I’d have to recommend against one. What a pain in the butt to work on! On the plus side, no room inside to carry too many friends, and too cramped for makin’ out.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I don’t plan to buy a car for my kids. I drove my parents’ cars (when they let me) until I saved up enough money to buy my own POS, which I could keep running because I took shop classes and had an interest in working on it. Ownership has a way of keeping cars out of ditches.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    Agree with indi500fan/Carlson Fan. If you are not giving her what you’re getting rid of, then buy her a lightly used Nissan Leaf for 8-9G. Every kid born after 2000 could use a little “John Conner”-like training regarding where water and food comes from, and how to manage energy. When she is your age, Grandpa will be glad that she has already cut her teeth.

  • avatar
    Joebaldheadedgranny

    As a new driver in the early 80’s I bought a 67 Falcon Futura 289 for $175 and it came with four studded tires in the trunk. It had seen better days and turned right without any driver input, however the engine was solid and the 3-speed trouble free. I got help from friends to do tune ups, oil changes, radiators etc.

    Fast forward 30 years and I bought my kid a 2003 Passat 1.8 with 70K miles and spent another $4500 trying to keep it functional. At 80k I was informed the control arms needed replacing (this was a California car so salt was not a factor)so I traded it at the Enterprise car lot for $1300. Glad to be done with that.

    I ended up buying my kid a 2015 Kia Forte EX with 18K. Nice, competent car. Under warranty until 2020, auto folding mirrors, decent space and trunk.

    If you live in any kind of metro area, it’s just not worth the hassle and uncertainty and worry of trying to replicate our own youthful experiences. Get a new or newish sedan and be done with it.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Instead of talking about the vehicles first, let’s consider what our goals are. Also, our budgets- it’s easy to meet all the other criteria just by throwing money at the matter. A new or nearly new full-sized CUV will be safe, capable and commodious, but will it teach the kid about frugality, humility and risk management?

    I was the fool above who’s taking the cherry-picked old Passat wagon solution. Here’s how that fits our goals:
    – no car loan: That’s a lead weight on a student’s finances, payed out no matter how little you may actually be driving. She might not drive at all for four months, as she’s aiming for foreign study in Africa next semester. How’s that for a test of a parent’s risk tolerance?
    – big, so it can carry two other students back to Tacoma at the end of winter break. But not too big, because that city’s streets can be surprisingly Euro-sized.
    – old, so depreciation-proof. Even budgeting $1,500 per year in maintenance and repairs, this turns out to be a less costly route than a new Jetta, leased.
    – AWD, because that gets you through Washington’s winter road regs without tire chains.
    – well-maintained, for obvious reasons. She shouldn’t face a backlog of needed repairs.

    Finally, this may be a virtue: This 2005 car is disconnected. No distracting dash displays or on-screen menus. It’s the pinnacle of 20th Century tech and ergonomics, without a clue at what’s come in the last decade. You just drive yourself down the road, and maybe listen to some CDs. Someday, she’ll look back on that memory in wonder…

  • avatar
    Chi-One

    When my youngest needed a car in HS I took him to the gas utility company auction of their fleet cars and trucks. All the cars were 10-12 year old Celebritys, 4 dr, Iron Duke but with A/C and AM/FM, >100k miles. We won the bid on one of the three that I thought were the pick of the litter. $800 or so of my money. Since there was nothing to hot rod on it he spent his money on sound equip for it. It lasted a couple of years with minor repairs and served its purpose. He then jonesed for a Grand Prix in that electric blue at Car Max. He pitched in some bucks and since he was working I co-signed the loan for him. A few months later he quit the Menard’s job. Ha! Ha!

    Anyway he turned out to be a very good driver. About 90% of my skills. We still have mandatory HS DE if they want to get a license here with mandatory graduated seat time and licensing. When he had his permit, no matter who was driving I always pointed out to him when dangerous situations were developing on the road. He had the benefit of growing up both in a big city and the suburbs and experiencing differences in traffic.

    Now, I think he’s less aggressive than I drive. As an ex big city cabbie and cop I have many more miles in the seat than the average driver. Now he’s married with a family. He drives an SS and his spouse an Escape, but they’re thinking about 3 row SUVs as their family continues to grow.

    FWIW, although he’s half my age, I think he’s actually had more cars than I have had, including a Z28 and Z06.(neither of which he EVER offered to let me drive!) HA! Even though I let him drive my classics, 442, Chevelle SS, Camaro SS and my current hot rods Camaro and Challengers!

    As everyone has already posted, build the foundation solidly and they will build the house on top of it.

    Merry Christmas All!

    PS: My first car was a ’61 F-85 wagon with bad U joints that I paid $275 for. Good times!

  • avatar
    slance66

    Subaru Crosstrek seems ideal. Roomy, hatchback, safe, AWD and underpowered. Other than that, a Civic or Corolla.

  • avatar
    TCowner

    Having recently been T-boned at 45mph in a Town Car, (with a lot better outcome than Jack) I noted lots of recommendation of small cars in the replies – gotta think about safety.

    Just got a ’99 Avalon for my 17 yr old daughter (side airbags back then!) and my son has had a bulletproof reliable 2005 Crown Vic. Cheap, reliable, safe.

  • avatar
    Wildcat

    My daughter is 18, hasn’t really wanted a license up until just recently, and has taken the driver’s ed course but hasn’t really gone out and driven on the permit much. I think she’s apprehensive about our local drivers (and rightfully so–aggressive urban rednecks in pickup trucks, and distracted drivers using social media on their phones around here, are an epidemic).

    I have an older all wheel drive CR-V I “retired” in November just due to age. It needs a few things (mainly wear/age related) and yeah, it has rust, but if it gets a couple of dings here and there, no big deal. She won’t be driving it far, certainly not as much as I drive. It’s higher up so she can see the traffic, and also so she can BE seen. It’s paid for, and ready to roll. Her grandfather (who lives with my ex and her) is hell bent on getting her some s**tty old late 90s Buick, but I’ll have to put my foot down on that one…

  • avatar

    My son is 18 months old, so I have *awhile* LOL

    But being a car guy, it’s definitely in the back of my mind. In between now and then, I want to expose him to as much of the car culture as possible, which will up my game as well.

    If he were 16 right now…no question, eighth-gen Honda Civic LX coupe, just like my old daily driver. Slow enough to keep him out of trouble, but handles well enough to do the same.

    Plus as a parent, with it being cheap to own/run, it’s one less thing to worry about.

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