QOTD: What Car Would You Buy For Your Kid?

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
qotd what car would you buy for your kid

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.

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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  • Wildcat Wildcat on Dec 28, 2016

    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...

  • Koreancowboy Koreancowboy on Jan 03, 2017

    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.

  • Danddd Chicago at night is crazy traveling in and out from the 'burbs. Taking the Ike back home around midnight and you'll see racers swerving by at 100mph plus. Dangerous enough we rarely go down there anymore. I plan my city trips between 9:30AM and back out by 1PM to miss the worst traffic.
  • SCE to AUX Good summary, Matt.I like EVs, but not bans, subsidies, or carbon credits. Let them find their own level.PM Sunak has done a good thing, but I'm surprised at how sensibly early he made the call. Hopefully they'll ban the ban altogether.
  • SCE to AUX "Having spoken to plenty of suppliers over the years, many have told me they tried to adapt to EV production only to be confronted with inconsistent orders."Lofty sales predictions followed by reality.I once worked (very briefly) for a key supplier to Segway, back when "Ginger" was going to change the world. Many suppliers like us tooled up to support sales in the millions, only to sell thousands - and then went bankrupt.
  • SCE to AUX "all-electric vehicles, resulting in a scenario where automakers need fewer traditional suppliers"Is that really true? Fewer traditional suppliers, but they'll be replaced with other suppliers. You won't have the myriad of parts for an internal combustion engine and its accessories (exhaust, sensors), but you still have gear reducers (sometimes two or three), electric motors with lots of internal components, motor mounts, cooling systems, and switchgear.Battery packs aren't so simple, either, and the fire recalls show that quality control is paramount.The rest of the vehicle is pretty much the same - suspension, brakes, body, etc.
  • Theflyersfan As crazy as the NE/Mid-Atlantic I-95 corridor drivers can be, for the most part they pay attention and there aren't too many stupid games. I think at times it's just too crowded for that stuff. I've lived all over the US and the worst drivers are in parts of the Midwest. As I've mentioned before, Ohio drivers have ZERO lane discipline when it comes to cruising, merging, and exiting. And I've just seen it in this area (Louisville) where many drivers have literally no idea how to merge. I've never seen an area where drivers have no problems merging onto an interstate at 30 mph right in front of you. There are some gruesome wrecks at these merge points because it looks like drivers are just too timid to merge and speed up correctly. And the weaving and merging at cloverleaf exits (which in this day and age need to all go away) borders on comical in that no one has a bloody clue of let car merge in, you merge right to exit, and then someone repeats behind you. That way traffic moves. Not a chance here.And for all of the ragging LA drivers get, I found them just fine. It's actually kind of funny watching them rearrange themselves like after a NASCAR caution flag once traffic eases up and they line up, speed up to 80 mph for a few miles, only to come to a dead halt again. I think they are just so used to the mess of freeways and drivers that it's kind of a "we'll get there when we get there..." kind of attitude.