Buy a new car for family

I am trying to get a new car for the family - I almost closed in on subaru outback and signed some papers on the dealership. But with the $29k price tag and wife concerned that she is not comfortable to drive a new car (as a first time driver), I need some recommendations on a used car that I should buy - We are a family of 3 and use the car primarily on the weekend to run some errands. Also, i live in northern nj - how important should AWD be in my consideration?

Go out and test as many new cars you think you may like. After narrowing it down to the top two or three, start looking for a nice 2 - 3 year old used one for half MSRP. Original owner and all service records count for a lot. Don’t forget to get a PPI from a qualified mechanic before purchasing.

Winter tires are far more important than AWD, FWD or RWD. I have been driving RWD BMWs here in Colorado for 40 years without an accident or getting stuck. I put on four real winter tires before the snow flies, All season tire are NOT WINTER TIRES and are really three season tires. AWD has more weight and complexity over 2WD and highly over rated IMO. Everyone drove RWD cars for the first 100 years of the automobile and got by OK. Winters were much harsher back then then in today’s global warming environment.

I feel that the first time driver should take a drivers training class. The concern about the new car will not be much better if you purchase a really nice used car. Front wheel drive and good tires should be enough. Also there are new cars out there for less money and you should look at some since you do not need a daily driver or might not make many long trips.

I would feel more comfortable having a first time driver in a new car, particularly a spouse, as opposed to a used car. The new car will have more tread on the fires, probably better brakes, and more safety features. IMHO, the newer the car the better for a first time driver. Even for an experienced driver like me, there are features of new cars that one needs to get used to because all cars may adopt that or already have that feature. For instance, on our trip west this past summer, we flew to Salt Lake City and rented a car to drive through Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and back to Salt Lake through Nevada. Our rental was.a 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe with only 200 miles when we started the trip. Now our own car is a 2011 Sienna, but I had never driven a car with a,touch screen radio, or a,control for whether Iwanted normal, sport,or easy steering. There were controls,on the steering wheel to step through a menu. as,to what would be displayed and what features to select. While Mrs. Triedaq drove, I tried,to figure out the audio system. I finally was able to get the FM band, but the stations available all had four guys singing cowboy songs and sounded as if they shared the same sinus. I guess all new cars today probably have touch screen audio systems and menus to select displays.
My parents had older cars when I was a teenage driver and we had manual transmission cars. My dad thought that if you couldn’t shift gears, you shouldn’t be driving, even.though he didn’t learn to drive on a gearshift car. The Model T Ford had a,foot pedal All the way down for low, all the way out for high and halfway position for neutral. If you wanted to back up, you held the transmission pedal in neutral and depressed the reverse pedal. He had to learn how to drive the next car–a Ford Model A with a clutch and gearshift. I had to learn to drive an automatic. The first time I drove an automatic I had real problems. A hot rodded pulled along side of me at a stoplight, revving up his engine. I put the automatic transmission in “D” for drag. When he started to pull ahead of me, I put the “L” for lunge… When the hot rodder started to pull ahead,again, I put the, transmission in “R” for race and found that automatic transmissions were not “user friendly”. just as my,dad found that gearshift. Model A Fords weren’t as user friendly as, the pedal operated Model T or the touch screen controls today aren’t as,user friendly as the controls on cars, from only 5 years ago. However, like the automatic transmission it is best to get used to the touch screen. As a new,driver,_I,think it is,best to have your wife start driving in a new car.

Thanks for the tips guys! Appreciate it - The big lesson so far is that i will not prefer AWD and focus more on the tires.

I think apart from the new car - I think she was surprised by the size of the outback and felt like it was too much to handle for her. I was reading consumer reports and found that forester had a pretty good rating this year. Maybe i will go for a used forester - around 2-3 years old! What do you guys think?

AWD cars need some TLC, especially with the tires, they should be rotated on time and changed all 4 together. Buying them used is a bit more risky since you can’t ne sure what the previous owner did.

AWD is very important for you to buy! (But only to the Subaru salesperson selling you the car, since that’s all they sell.)

Especially in northern NJ, buying FWD and being conscious of your tires is fine.

While the forester is a great car, I own one, but it requires lots of TLC to keep the maintenance up. Tire rotation, special fluids, etc. Again, you have no need for AWD. And your reasons for used vs new are not very realistic, sorry.

I say stick with the new car. Your odds of having a breakdown or downtime for repairs is signifigantly reduced and wrecking a new car vs a used car makes no difference at all for repairs after insurance, as long as if it is totaled you are not upside down in value. You may loose some value at trade in time if wrecked, but that would effect a used car also. Check out the insurance coverages for a totalled car. Plus if it is totaled that means you would probably have been in one heck of a wreck and it would be comforting to know you have the latest and greatest safety features in case of that happening.

I have changed my mind after following this thread. If the wife was nervous about the size of the outback how nervous is she going to be with the safety of a child in the car with her. Either get her proper training or buy a cheap used car .

I’d advise the OP to check out used cars from rental car companies; Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, etc.

No matter WHAT vehicle…
If she’s THAT un-sure about driving a small car…and thinks it’s big…she has a LOT of practice to do before driving ANYTHING.
…and …make sure your liability insurance is sufficient for someone who’s pretty darn sure she’s going to hit something.

My learning driver ( all of 100 lbs and5 feet ) likes driving the 08 Expedition EL over the 06 Escape hybrid any day !

Do not get a new car for someone that is uncomfortable. Just get a used 10K version of whatever meets your fancy. After a couple of years, her practice will be over and she’ll be more comfortable in making a better decision on the next car (new car). Win win for both of you.

Since there are 3 in your family, consider a small sedan. Mid-size like Camry, Accord, Malibu or a little smaller like Corolla/Cruze. Two or three years old will take a big chunk of depreciation out. All are FWD and good family cars. Don’t lit yourself to just those cars. Mid-size and economy are the largest segments, and there are a lot of good cars out there. Make sure that you and your wife drive them to be sure you like them. If she doesn’t want to drive them, she will have to take your word for it. We have a 2005 Accord and it has been great. We also have a couple of Cobalts. The Cobalts are fun to drive, but are a bit noisy (not enough sound deadening). If you want to take a really long test drive, rent a couple of finalists for a weekend and see if you still like them after a couple of days.

If you like the Subie Outback, why not just buy a used version? Keep it simple.

The OP has stated that the wife thinks the outback is too big for her to handle ( new or used ).