Car for my son



MY 19 y/o son in college in Fl. wants a car and if hr makes the deans list my wife and I MAY get him one. He may actually make the deans list and he wants a Jeep wrangler.

1. How unsafe are these cars?

2. What other makes/models would be nearly as cool for beach and just around St. Pete riding that actually be safe?

Tom M.


When buying something for a 19 year old, I would forget COOL! Yes, Jeeps, and many other open 4 wheel drive vehicles, are very unsafe in the hands of a 19 year old, whether he makes the dean’s list or not.

The best combination of safe and reasoably cool is the kind of car my neighbor’s son drives; a stick shift Chevy Cobalt Coupe in bright red. These cars look as good as any expensive sports car, are cheap to operate, insure, and don’t tip over easily. They are also not high powered and will not invite racing.

I can’t recommend any safe vehicle for actually driving ON the beach!


I lived in St. Pete and cannot see the reason for a 4WD Jeep down there. They are noisy, uncomfortable on the highway, unreliable and get poor gas mileage. “Safe” is relative. Any late model vehicle with ABS, airbags and traction control is reasonably safe these days. I’d opt for a Honda Accord with good AC, but that’s just me. If I really wanted a Jeep-like vehicle, I’d go for a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV-4. But let him get what he likes – it’s his car.



19 year old boys try to buy “coolness”…But with a Jeep, all you get is a leaky, unreliable, high-maintenance death trap…If he is spending HIS money, that’s something else, but if he is spending YOUR money, then you get the final word…Is a Miata out of the question? or something like that? A 6 cylinder Mustang Convertible would be a better choice than the Jeep…


I had a boss that had a CJ5 and his son wanted this Jeep as Dad had promised a car in a situation similar to yours. In a private conversation my boss told me he would feel better giving his son the .45 he carried over that Jeep.


If he has no car now, any quality, safe sedan should do. You’ll feel better buying him a car with a very good safety record regardless of what he “wants”.
We had neighbors who rewarded their children with the use of vehicles of their choice for their good conduct. One died in a Corvette crash traveling at over 100 mph, the other in a motorcycle accident, both were under 21 at the time of each. The accidents were three years apart. No one said the sad ending for both had anything to do with their vehicle choices, but you can’t convince the parents of that now.
You do well to ask the right questions…now listen to the suggestions and make a choice you and not your son can feel good with.
I would recommend that the car be kept in your name as a “loaner” and you reserve the right to take the car back at any time. Free rights to a car are relinquished IMO when some one else pays for the car and supports you for college.


Your son may think a Wrangler is COOL now, but once Obama’s energy bill kicks in, the Wrangler will instantly be equated with “Wretched Excess” and your son will become a pariah among the college crowd. Frugal, lighter vehicles will be the cool 2 years from now!


Give us some features of Obama’s energy bill and please provide us with some idea where this bill sits in regards to implementation.

Is your main reference with the pending CAFE standards? or something regarding some form of carbon dioxide reduction plan.

What I am getting at is details so people don’t read about “Obamas energy plan” and attach features that don’t exist.

As most regulars know I currently attend community college and I am very suprised about the amount of anti-Obama administration policy views and general anti-Obama as the man views.

I am also suprised abount the lack of condemnation of “Wall Street” in regards to bearing responsibility for a certain amount of the ills we now face, it seems that making sure there are enough rewards for the current crop of students is more important than reducing greed. Greed is good is again (or still) the call of the day. As long as I get mine all is fair.


The Cobalt does not look like a sports car. I looks like an economy car, which it is. For around town and beach use, the Wrangler isn’t a bad choice. For something more comfortable an Explorer Sport-Trac or a Nissan Xterra are also decent choices. If you get a Wrangler, opt for the Rubicon model. It has front and rear lockers as standard equipment.

I don’t know why people automatically assume that a college aged kid will flip any truck/SUV they come in contact with. I got my Bronco when I was 20, promptly put a 4 inch lift on it, drove it for 230k miles (and counting) and I’ve never rolled it over.


New CAFE standards are pretty tough. In addition we will have some form of Carbon Tax, currently at $38 per ton, as well as likely a stiffer gas guzzler tax.

The purpose of these energy taxes and standards is to:

  1. Comply with greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the international climate change committee.

  2. Try to keep the US dollar from collapsing due to the enormous energy (oil) import bill.

  3. Reduce US dependance on oil imports from unfriendly and unstable countries.

I could write a 20 page blog here, but Jeeps and other gas guzzling vehicles are targeted to be heavily taxed in the future.

I think it would be really dumb to show up on a college campus in a vehicle that makes no sense whatsoever. College kids always purported to represent the FUTURE. OP’s son is firmly rooted in the past!


I’m going to make the assumption that you actually bothered to learn how a 4x4 handles, or were familiar with it before.

The problem (not just with young folks) is that they buy these things just because they’re roomy or look cool and it never dawns on them to drive them any differently than a regular sedan. When combined with a general lack of driving experiance, a lot of them end up upside down in ditches.

I’m all for 4x4’s and trucks if you have a use for them, but otherwise I think all the drawbacks of gas mileage, reliability, safety, etc. make a 4x4 a very expensive vanity item and I generally agree with the other posters about this situation. Get him a car by all means, but frankly, by college you shouldn’t have to be bribing your kids to do well in school.


I agree with the others. One day he’ll be buying his own car, and he can get what he wants/can afford. You should get him boring/reliable/safe, teen boys have the driving sense of, well, teenage boys!


I’d say something like a Mustang or Camaro would be as cool and more safe than a Wrangler.


These cars are very unstable on the highway due to the short wheelbase. This is not a vehicle for an inexperienced or young driver. I used to sell cars for a living and the scariest test drive I ever went on was in a Wrangler with a 16 year old driver (an aquaintance of my son). My suggestion is a nice Volvo. Realistically, how about a used Benz or BMW? Both much safer with plenty of pazzaz.


Buy your son an old Volvo. They may look like they were styled in the resemblance of a brick but they’re very safe and no one is going to race your son in a Volvo. Make sure you get an old model that doesn’t have a turbocharger on it and you got yourself the perfect teenagers car.


I Guess You’re Too New Here To Have Seen The “Old Volvo” Crash Video That Was Listed Here. I’d Rethink Buying Any “Old” Cars. Newer Cars Are Generally Safer.

I think this is the video link (I can’t run it):



Good video! Was able to run it. Obviously one up on buying the newest, safest tested car you can afford and NOT an old Volvo. I guess people still think the magic older Volvo/Benz logos will protect them, and they couldn’t be further from the truth.

That’s why I’ve always felt safe recommending a late model Accord/Camry/Taurus. To heck with crappy old Volvos and leave them to Columbo.

The market is too competitive for the basic high volume sedans for most not to keep current in safety requirements. One bad report…there goes the company.


So what you’re saying is, the plan is to try to legislate high horsepower and/or large vehicles out of the reach of ordinary citizens? Why not let the people decide what they want to drive?


FoDaddy; it’s the age-old problem of what people want is what they think is good for them in the short run. This does not always match what’s good for the whole country in the long run. Federal governments have a responsibility to try to balance imports and exports in the long run to protect the currency. If they don’t do that, the country will end up being owned by foreigners. This is already happening; the Chinese are now buying US companies instead of hanging on to all those dollars that Walmart and you gave them. Middle East countries are also buying up US hotels and energy companies.

So, OP merrily driving a Jeep on the beach will worsen the above situation.

You will find that in France for instance, economical cars are very much within reach of the average citizen, but cars with big engines and high horspeower are taxed heavily. If you have a large family in France you can still economically afford a minivan with a small diesel.

Countries that don’t have oil have always taxed gasoline and cars heavily. Countries that have lots of oil tended not to, although Norway (a major oil exporter) does so. Countries that USED TO HAVE lots of oil, such as the US, will have to make that difficult transition to reducing oil and gasoline consumption through taxation, better alternate technology, and more public rapid transit. “The people” will still be able to decide what they want to drive, it will just cost more.

Whether you like it or not, those are the economic facts of life.


Dagosa, I Believe Lieutenant Columbo Drove A Peugeot.