Autos: The perfect car for a teenager? It can be found – Indianapolis Star
Doubt me? Call your insurance agent.
Putting a lot of horsepower in the hands of a teen is not the best idea. Price and safety top the list of must-haves. Cool comes with experience — later.
“A teenager’s first car is more than just a financial decision,” said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS list of recommended used vehicles, he said, “can help consumers factor in safety, in addition to affordability.”
To compile the list, IIHS editors consulted Kelly Blue Book for pricing and their own records for crash performance. Vehicles were categorized by class and are recent generations.
Sure, most are boring sedans like the Mercury Sable or Chevy Malibu, but there are some cars any teenager would love to drive.
Top of class
In a first wave, the editors set a $20,000 limit. Among the more interesting large cars are the Saab 9-5, Lincoln MKS, Buick Regal and Volvo S80.
Good large SUVs include the GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse. And, why not consider minivans like the Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey and VW Routan? Teens have things and people to haul, too.
While these vehicles are all among the safest and most advanced on the road, and would be good hand-me-downs, there are more affordable choices.
The price factor
The Mercedes C-Class is a safe and sporty ride, but it is expensive to buy and maintain.
Keeping price under $10,000, cars like the 2005 Acura RL, 2009 Subaru Legacy, 2009 Saturn Aura, 2004 Acura TL, and Volvo S40 stand out. The 2009 and later Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute, 2007-10 Ford Edge, 2008-09 Saturn Vue, and 2007-11 Mazda CX-7 also would work.
Mainly because of price, most cars teenagers actually drive were built 2006 or earlier.
“Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get a safe vehicle for a teenager at the prices most people are paying,” said Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research. “Our advice to parents would be to remember the risks teens take and consider paying a little more.”
It’s not just about putting sheet metal around them, but also what safety systems are on the vehicle.
While the IIHS suggestions are affordable and safe, they aren’t especially cool.
I mean, really, a Honda Odyssey? I scoff in its general direction.
But, pick through the list, and there are cool choices. There’s nothing wrong with the Volvo C30 or Subaru Outback. Especially as teens head back to school, finding a car that gets them there and back safely is a worthy challenge. These options put you steps ahead.
The full list of teen-friendly vehicles can be found at www.IIHS.org.
Email your car questions to Indianapolis-based automotive journalist Casey Williams at AutoCasey@aol.com.