Buying car for (with) son age 21

Son age 21 to graduate college this Dec 2011. Was driving dad’s car until this past weekend. Rod shot through the engine. Mechanic is saying not worth repairing given other items wrong with car.
Son drives all over Colorado for business, fun, and who knows what. When he graduates, he plans to spend January, February, and March in the mountains of Colorado.
I would like to see him in a car that meets all the following criteria:

  1. Safe
  2. Preferably all wheel drive-handles well in snow and ice conditions (definitely not a SUV they are always in the papers in the accident report section)
  3. Fuel efficient
  4. Fits his young male ego
  5. Low repair costs (low repairs)
  6. Low costs to purchase
  7. Low maintenance

Ideas needed?

subaru. dependable.all wheel drive.great on gas.they make an outback thats a rocky mountain edition if you can find one.any subaru would be a good choice.

It’s not the SUV but the people driving them that cause the accidents. If your son drives sanely, he will be fine in an SUV. If you look at Subarus, only look at the Impreza sedan. The others are SUVs or too hot to handle (and insure). Stick to the 2.5i or 2.5i premium Impreza. A 2007 2.5i with a manual transmission will run you about $11,500 in Denver; $12,000 with the auto transmission. Is that a low cost to purchase? Give us a number and we can tell you what fits that price.

Check insurance rates whatever you get.
And throw #4 out the window

My first car was an older (1979) RWD 4 door Toyota Corolla, that my parents decided to let me have. I hated it, as it was a stupid family grocery getter, but hey…I had a car! It didn’t suit my “male ego”, but it sure was nice to have something that ran, and I could pick up my girlfriends. So, it did fit most of the other requirements.

I drove that car all over, into the mountains, through the snow, even down mud paths made for bicycles. Nothing stopped it, except eventually the rust.

While you may see SUV’s in the paper, I have to second JT’s comments. It’s not the SUV…it’s the idiot behind the wheel trying to drive it like a race car. It’s not, and should be treated for what it is. I now drive (for the past 12 years) an SUV, and I love it. Sure, it’s big, uses too much fuel, and I put far too many miles on it, but it’s also 4X4, goes wherever I point it, and always runs. It’s Toyota 4Runner, and no version of the 4Runner is anything to sniff at.

Throw #4 out the window?? Lets move it up where it belongs, #1 or #2…Since the insurance will probably cost as much as the car, you agent should have veto power…

Used AWD vehicles automatically are high-maintenance compared to say a 4 cylinder RWD pick-up truck…

Subaru Impreza…Awd cars require less maintenance than less reliable cars in 2wd. For example; generally speaking, a Subaru should give you better service overall then a Chrysler Sebring. The drive system in a Subaru if given slightly more maintenance then the drive trains of 2wd cars, are just as reliable.

The main complaints about older Subarus have more to do with it’s motor. There are almost no complaints of excessive problems on
Ravs and CRVs. They are absolutely bullet proof compared to most Euro products and many American non Ford products.

Car based SUVs are just raised station wagons and are prejudiced against by the less informed. Compact SUVs are a great and safe option for any student who needs/wants awd.

A rod shooting through an engine block generally points to:
A. Excessive RPMs.
B. Lack of oil.
C. Never changing the oil and a prematurely worn out engine.
D. Worn out engine due to very high miles.

A rod does not shoot through a block unless someone was ignoring the obvious.
The point could be made that low maintenance may have been the root cause of the thrown rod problem.
The part about asking for a low maintenance vehicle infers to me that a vehicle that can be neglected is desired. There IS no low maintenance vehicle but there are plenty of neglected ones.

An SUV is perfectly safe in the hands of a careful driver. As someone who have visisted CO countless times both in the summer and winter I’ve seen very clearly why SUVs are often mentioned in accident reports.

  1. There’s a huge number of them on the road.
  2. The media likes to portray SUVs as death personfied. (“An SUV killed…” etc but you do not hear a report that “A Toyota Prius killed…”. See the point?)
  3. Consideration should be given to how those SUVs are being driven in CO. I can’t even start to remember how many of them I’ve seen blow past me at 60 or 70 MPH on 35 MPH mountain turn.

The SUV is fine. If your son is a careful driver, no problem.

6. “Low costs to purchase” + “Ideas needed?” = Not Enough Information.

New or used ?
Low cost to some is under $30,000.
Low cost to others is under $3,000.

Without plugging this into the equation first, many suggestions are meaningless.
Tina, please give us a budget range. I just did this for my son (then in college) 3-1/2 years ago. I may have some ideas.


Fuel efficient and fits a young male ego? I don’t think such a mythical creature exists.

Suzuki SX4 for the former, Subaru Impreza WRX for the latter.

ok4550, I was wondering when someone was going to mention the likelihood of neglect, abuse, or both causing the thrown rod.

Personally, Tina, I think if you buy your son another car, it will end up being abused and/or neglected like the last one. If, however, he spends his own money on a car, he will take better care of it. Do your son a favor and let him learn some responsibility from this costly lesson.

A thrown rod can also be caused by a defect in the connecting rod.

On another forum of mine, there have been two recent reports of Toyota pickup trucks that sent one of the rods in the V6 engine through the engine block, completely out of the blue.

Both trucks had perfect, 3k mile oil change histories, and the engines were spotless inside.
The connecting rods failed, and the engine was trashed.

Don’t assume it’s the kid’s fault that the engine died.
If it was a modern car, you CAN’T over rev them, unless you manually shift into a lower gear at too high a speed for that gear. Chances are, you would destroy the valves and camshaft before blowing the con rod if that were the case, anyway.