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Hi there,



I just got my driver’s license and am planning to buy a car (my first car). I will use it in Wisconsin, Madison and I am single. As you know the winter there is not that nice. I wonder whether you may give me some suggestion as to what cars might be a good choice for me?

Given it’s pretty flat, just about any car with a good set of winter tires would work fine. I’d go with front-wheel drive, but that’s me. You might want to get the Consumer Reports car buying edition, I saw it on the magazine rack at the store today. Lots of good information.

For a teenager’s first car, keep it simple and plain.
To start with you need basic transportaion, nothing more.
As a teen you don’t know yet what you need from a vehicle. the plainer and simpler is usually cheaper too and gives you the leaway to adjust later.

Hauling anything ?
Band instruments, teammates, kayaks, skidoo/snowmobile trailer ?

With correct tires and driving techniques 4x4 is not really needed so the price can stay more affordable.

Budget ? Credit rating ? new or used ? cash or loan ?

  • more car for the dollar buying used -

Too many questions need answered to be able to suggest.

Consider the longevity of your purchase. will this vehicle still be yours 10 years from now ? Will it go to college with you and into your career or marriage ? ( wife still has her 1979 chevy pickup )

Consider servicing. Buy locally with easy access to affordable service for that brand.

What did you learn in that you liked ? That may give you a starting baseline.

A gool ol’ plain used Camry or Focus sounds like a hit.

You don’t need snow tires in Madison and a front drive car will be very adequate. We have been driving front drive compact and more recently medium size front drive cars in the north since 1978, before that ran rear drivers, and do just fine with front drive. The roads are salted as needed in Madison and if not done, the local politicians get hollered at as people need to get to work, school or whatever.

When we got our first front drive car in 1978, we could not believe how much better starting traction was over rear drive in the snow, even rear drive with snow tires. We have not bought snow tires since the mid 1970s.

It all depends upon what you can afford and your situation. For a single person, living alone, nothing beats a compact awd SUV for all round utility, independence and safety when it’s only you that you depend upon. I recommend CRV/RAV4/Forester in that order. If you live at home, and have a supportive family, than any compact, reliable FWD with good tires for winter will do.

How old are you? How much money do you have? Can you drive a stick shift?

Shop around and choose the car you like best. There are hundreds of good choices. I suggest you obtain a copy of Consumer Reports magazine’s annual “Auto Issue.” It is full of helpful information about choosing a new or used vehicle.

If you have lots of snow you will need FOUR winter tires, but just about any vehicle is capable of getting around in winter as long as it’s equipped with the right tires.

The right vehicle for you is the one that fits your wants and needs. Only you can decide which vehicle that is.

The son of my neighbor across he street has to earn all his own spending money. He wisely drives a stripped 2 door econobox coupe, a Chevy Cobalt. You would be wise to get something similar; the fewer gadgets the better. Wisconsin does not get that hot in the summer, so I would not even insist on air. Buy a stick shift as well and NO TURBO engine. Avoid anything with AWD or 4wheel drive.

My thoughts exactly Caddyman! There a several more variables which need to be solved for a good recommendation.

I would also ask, What is your occupation antfu59?

Contact an insurance agent. Depending on age/budget(assuming you’re 16) they’ll give you a list of good vehicles with low insurance premiums in that range. Note though, that no matter the age, a first time driver will always be more expensive to insure than someone who’s driven a long time