Buying a Car For Your Ungrateful Teen? Here's a List

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
buying a car for your ungrateful teen here s a list

The thought of a parent spending any significant amount of money on a vehicle for their teen offspring leaves a bad taste in this writer’s mouth, but some families march to the beat of a different, more affluent drum. Yours truly believes a free hand-me-down wreck should be the absolute limit of parental generosity, and that’s only on the condition that they pay for all upkeep.

But loans from the Bank of Mom and Dad are definitely a thing, which gives them considerable say over what vehicle actually enters their kid’s life. With this in mind, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports joined forces to craft a list of decently reliable, safe rides for parents on a budget.

Would your spawn be happy with any of these top choices?

The used rides range in price from roughly $5,000 to $20,000, selected due to their above-average reliability (over a majority of model years) and crashworthiness. Models with unusually high injury claims were tossed.

As the study states, “All listed vehicles earn good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as a good or acceptable rating in the driver-side small overlap front test. If rated by NHTSA, they earn 4 or 5 stars overall or 4 or 5 stars in the front and side tests under the old rating scheme.”

A quick perusal shows not one mention of the ’92-96 Toyota Camry four-cylinder — a car which would serve a young person well, right into adulthood and beyond. Alas, those are getting on in years.

What did show up on the list, and right at the very top of the affordability scale, is the 2014 (or newer) Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback and 2014 (or newer) Subaru Impreza, as well as the current-generation Hyundai Elantra GT and Kia Forte. Sensible choices for anyone, really. The Mazda, at an average of $7,000, serves as the cheapest top pick.

In the midsize field, the 2013-present Subaru Legacy and Outback top the list, joined by Honda Accords of the same age. The large car nod goes to the 2016 Hyundai Genesis.

If cargo capacity is more of a concern, the 2014-present Mazda CX-5 is a good choice, with older examples being the cheapest menu item on this small CUV list. The Buick Encore also ranks high for affordability, though some teens might recoil in horror at their parents’ choice. Well, tough luck, Brayden. Also on the list are the Chevrolet Equinox and Honda CR-V.

The 2014 or 2016-and-newer GMC Terrain is your cheapest bet in the “midsize” category, followed by the current-generation Kia Sorento. Looking to saddle junior with a minivan (which will inevitably turn into either a date-killer or a pregnancymobile)? Don’t waste your time looking at any offering from Fiat Chrysler. The best choices are all overseas jobs, with the current-gen Toyota Sienna topping the affordability list by a few hundred dollars.

Sure, there’s also a cheaper “good” list to add to the “best” ranking we just provided, but do you really want to look at vehicles that are less than ideal when you’re counting on your kids to fund your palliative care later in life? Tread cautiously with that wallet.

[Image: Mazda]

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  • REAL_sluggo REAL_sluggo on Aug 02, 2020

    Mr. Williams, Are you havin' a laff?? The very premise that a Parent would buy their offspring, who(m) are supposedly "ungrateful", is quite remarkable... And foretelling: That type of parenting is exactly where Pajama Boys/Girls come from. It's why youth do not respect their Parents. It's why children live at home well into their late 20's and early 30's. Tough Love is the key to exercising YOUR backbone without being a Dictator or Authoritarian. Find said backbone, grab your chav and ascertain if you actually have a set, and raise your child to be self-sufficient and INDEPENDENT. Sally forth into REALITY

    • Lie2me Lie2me on Aug 02, 2020

      I hope you're kidding, because parents have been helping their kids get cars since cars became a thing. Not all kids who get a helping hand turn out to be ungrateful, spoiled brats

  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Aug 03, 2020

    One of the last comments on this entry, apparently from the winning bidder, states that this will be "a young man's first car!"

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.