First car for teen daughter


I’m looking for a dependable used car for my daughter to learn to drive. Something easy to care for reliable safe to drive and inexpensive. Any ideas?


They will take a long time to wash or wax, but Grand Marquis and Crown Victorias and inexpensive and reliable. I’d say the ones she can afford to pay for herself are the best bet.


Do you know what might be a good v6 or a medium size car?


Mid size front wheel drive, example are Camry, Impala Accord, Taurus


I would suggest any medium size boring car with automatic.


I agree, something mid-sized with reasonable power, not too much but not so slow it gets an inexperienced driver in trouble. A full size car/suv/van is harder to drive/part, and a very small car is less safe. Something cheap enough that you won’t mind a few dents.


Any midsize car will serve. Don’t try to split hairs over which make/model will be “better” than another. There are issues that look good on paper but have little meaning when you finally take your checkbook to the car lot. The trick is to get a sound car, which you will do by having a mechanic check it out before the final handshake.


The Camry and Accord are available with 4-cyl engines and will be better mileage than any of the 4 cars with 6-cyl. engines.


I like the idea of about a 10 year old Taurus. It should be safe and reliable.

Edmunds says a 1998 should be about $2000 from a private party or $2700 from a dealer. I think you should stay in a price range where you can shrug off the fender benders that are likely to happen during the first year or two of driving.

Be sure to get the 3.0L Vulcan V6 (about 145 horsepower) not the Duratec V6 (200 HP), and not the 3.8L V6 (used in some older model years). The Vulcan is bullet proof.

The tranny is more problematic. It works well if the person changed transmission fluid every 30K miles or so and didn’t have a heavy foot.

If the car has a trailer hitch, pass it up.

There is nothing wrong with the other midsize choices presented.


The best choices would be a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic. These are two of the most reliable cars on the planet, and they meet all government safety standards, just like all other cars sold in the US.

My daughter’s Corolla has been virtually trouble free for more than 150,000 miles, it is inexpensive to insure, and it gets great gas mileage.

Forget all that Crown Vic, midsize car stuff. That assumes the young lady will crash the car, and guarantees NOTHING.

Put her in a high-quality economy car, such as a Corolla or Civic. You can’t go wrong.


Any car that have short wheelbase/overhang would be preferable. I’d vote for a Mercedes SLK, they are classfied as compact but the body is quite stiffer than the others. Besides, your daughter at least can learn what the understeer is. This is going to be a huge advantage for the rest of her driving life.


The SLK is a cute “chick car” (a tad underpowered and pretty safe for a small car), but I would still start with a $5-10K beater (unlike most of the kids at my daughter’s high school). Her first car is likely to get banged up and you don’t want to be replacing $200 tail light lenses every week. A FWD appliance (with an automatic) is easier to learn on, especially in bad weather (who cares what brand, probably some kind of honda/toyota/domestic, whatever’s available and cheap. just consider it disposable). If she keeps the first car in one piece for a while, then buy her a real car.

BTW, I assume you mean “over-steer,” but SLKs are reasonably neutral.


I disagree with the recommendation for a small economy car (and I love the Honda Civic). The problem is that teens die in small cars, including one of my daughter’s friends. OK, my sample size is too small for good science, and you may think me overly dramatic, but all my teens drove minivans. Not only is the car incredible safe, but it is so unsporty they are unlikely to take dangerous chances. When they turned 20, they could get an Accord-size car. The worst possible car you can get a teen is a Jetta. Small, sporty, and young driver is an invitation for injury and worse.


LOL, if my kids want to buy a mini-van the better find someplace else to park it because it’s not going to be in my driveway. Jettas/civics/etc. are decent little cars; they’re a little small/underpowered for real people, but OK for kids (I’ve never heard anyone refer to a jetta as “sporty”).

By the time my kids are 20, I certainly don’t expect to have any input into what they are driving. I would have fallen down laughing if my parents tried to tell me what type of car/motorcycle to buy when I was 20.

My 16 year old daughter currently wants a motorcycle, but that’s not going to happen for a couple of years (unfortunately, she knows that I had a motorcycle, without the benefit of a license, when I was barely 15). I will buy her something reasonable, but not embarrassing.


Due to inexperience, hormones, and general stupidity, teenagers do tend to get into a lot of scrapes while driving. Thus the tendency for some people to recommend a big car/tank – it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a little more sheet metal around them, all other safety features/design being equal. Yeah, it’s going to get dinged, so a cheap easy-to-fix beater would be good. You don’t want them in something sporty enough to encourage them to show off to their friends (BIG source of trouble). No incredible sound systems allowed for a teen (too distracting). Finally, an automatic is vital unless they’re very mechanically inclined. They’ll have enough on their plates learning to drive well without the complications of clutch and gearbox.


When I was in high school (100 years ago) one of my friends had a big station wagon, about six of us would ride on the roof while he was driving (sorta like surfing, but faster). I could get significant air off the crest of a local hill in my dads full size chrysler. I could fit about seven kids and lots of beer (etc.) in my VW bug if I had to. One of my friends drove a full size van that was basically a rolling opium den/motel room. Another of my friends let his (under 16, no license) drunk girlfriend drive his car, they ended up inside a liquor/convenience store (still in the car), his parents were not amused. One of my classmate’s hobbies was trying to steal the local police cars, he did have a set of lights from one of them. Another one left his dads car burning on the side of the road and hitched the rest of the way to a Dead concert before he bothered to tell anyone. I don’t even want to think about what I did on a motorcycle when I was about 15 (without a license or insurance). If any kids (especially mine) are reading this, I really do not recommend this type of behavior (some of us didn’t survive).

The point is, kids will find a way to do stupid stuff no matter what they are driving. If you think giving them a slow/boring car will make them more responsible, think back to when you were 16. As I recall, the kids with the nicer cars were actually less likely to drive them into a lake, just to see what happens (BTW, VW bugs don’t really float very well). (-;


I seriously disagree on the Jetta statement. Most Jetta’s have less or same power as a Civic/Corolla. Yes there is the upscale model but few teens can afford/buy.

Lastly the Jetta is a very safe car. I had one as my first car and it much safer than any other small car at its time. It was slow but fun to drive. It still remains quite a safe car.


Kids get killed in small cars for the same reason they get killed in large cars, SUV’s and oversized pickup trucks, they didn’t wear their seatbelts. Girls let their boyfriends drive their cars while sitting in the middle are most vulnerable.

Its not that the seatbelts protect them in the accident, but that seatbelts keep them behind the wheel when they corner too fast or take a jump on “thrill hill”. So many of these kids don’t realize just how hard it is to stay in the seat at nearly 1g without a seatbelt.

I think seatbelt useage among teens would go up if they understood that they can’t get maximum performance from their cars without wearing them. Performance sells to these kids, safety doesn’t.