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First Post - Vehicle Suggestions For A New Teen Driver

Hi everyone, This is my first post. I have a teen that just received their Learners Permit. While I have a year to do my research and purchase, figured that hearing from others would help with what vehicles to research.

Anyone have some good vehicles to consider for a teen driver? My husband is thinking of a midsize sedan, but I was wondering if a small suv would be better?

I would say have the teenager get a part time job and save money for what is going to be outrageous insurance rates added to what you have now. That way they have some investment in this vehicle you are going to purchase. You will receive all kinds of suggestions but it might be best if the teenager actually wants to be seen in the vehicle so they will drive and take better care of it.


You insurance company agent is probably a good person to ask about this. I’d start there. I have no expertise on this problem, but I’d be inclined to first ask what kind of car the teen preferred. Then get them involved in the learning process by asking them to do some research about that make/model. For example, what is the Kelly Blue book price (assuming it is a used car). What does Consumer Reports say about its reliability and safety ratings? What is its predicted maintenance and repair costs? What does it cost in parts and labor to replace the water pump? The alternator? How do those costs compare to other similar makes/models? This is something a teen can do, just takes a few trips to the library, maybe asking some questions here. But you got to start by asking them what kind of car they’d like to drive. Then you got something to work with.

If I was teen I’d prefer something economical and easy to service from among the Camry/Accord/Corolla/Civic/Mazda 3/Fit/Yaris lines.

If, to the question ‘what car do you want’, they reply with either ‘camaro’ or ‘mustang’, you got your work cut out for you … :wink:


Trips to the library? lol


I would contact your insurance company and find out what cars would be cheapest for them to insure. I can assure you there will be no high performance cars on that list.

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The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E300 is a comfortable sedan for just $53,000.

Yes, a Lexus NX300t can be found for less than $40,000 and almost as comfortable.

When I was a teen I rode a motorcycle to work until I could afford insurance for my car, the price of the car was less than the cost of 3 months insurance. Before long I bought (and sold) compact, mid sized and full sized cars for $50 to $300, the size matters for fuel costs. There is more to selecting a vehicle than just size of the vehicle.

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I know a bit, older daughter got licensed 4 yrs ago and one is working on her permit now…
My younger daughter’s friend got a brand new BMW 3 series as her sweet 16 present. I told my daughter if she studies harder and helps with household chores, I might consider a BMX bike :slight_smile:

There are lists of what cars are safe for teens I guess it was the NHTSA website but it is quite old by now. But essentially no coupes or small sedans. You are on the right track with midsize sedan or small CUV. My older daughter is driving our small CUV and she likes it better than the midsize sedan mostly for the sitting position.

But, yes, get an insurance quote before you buy anything. As reference, my daily driver was a sports Ford Focus and when my older one got her license the insurance went through the roof even though she could not drive the stick shift car. It was the combination of the sports car and teen driver. On my replacement, I bought a Hyundai Veloster which my insurance does not consider a sports car (even though it has more power than the Ford it replaced).


Scroll about 1/3 way down page for list

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Teens will hit things. Teens will do dumb stuff.

Given those points, I always recommend a used vehicle, 4 cylinders and 4 doors, as boring as you can find. Avoid small SUV’s as they have a somewhat greater tendency to end up on their roofs. Car have had airbags and ABS for over 20 years now so even a 10 year old car will be a very safe.

Talk you your insurance agent for cost. Pick the vehicle with the lowest claims history - safe, and cheap.

Teach them how to check tire pressure, oil level and insist they READ the owners manual so they know what ALL the lights on the dash mean!

And I don’t care if it is something they want to drive or not. If I, as a parent, am buying it, I get to make that choice. Dull, duller and dullest!


I will never understand the parents that give their teenagers either brand new cars or especially sports cars…I’m glad my parents put me in a 94 Saturn Sedan with a stick shift when I turned 16. I’m also glad that I’m 9.5 years away from this scenario myself…


When my oldest wanted a car to drive to school, I gave her my 8 year old midsize sedan and bought a new car for me. Vehicle damage on the school parking lot was common, either through driving errors or vandalism. One of my daughters hit a parked school bus when she pressed the accelerator too hard. A friend of another daughter got a two year old BMW convertible from her Mom. It was keyed a few days after the girl started driving it to school. Mom took it back and got her something less expensive.

It appears that you can afford to give your child a nice vehicle to drive to school an other places. If you want a new one to take advantage of safety devices that might catch errors a novice makes, that’s up to you. An older vehicle can also be a good choice for the reasons outlined above. Whatever you get, the child will be pleased. Any car is better than no car. My kids complained about the old Buick, but were still happy to have it.

Lots of good advice here. Having been through this drill twice, I can tell you some things to expect and offer some tips. My two girls each had a 240 Volvo stick shift in high school. Half-way through college when they had proved that they could and would take care of their cars, they got used BMW 328s. After college, they bought their own cars. Now the attorney still drives a BMW and the engineer drives a Tesla.
There will be times when they want to leave their car overnight or for a week at a time in the school parking lot and other places while they travel to away games or church mission trips in a bus. There will be a time that they come out of a football game to find their friends sitting on the hood. Their entire soccer team will decide to see if they can fit in the car. Do not give a teenager a car so nice that you are inclined to kill their friend who is stupid and thoughtless.
It is good to start them with a stick shift so they will always know how to drive one if they need to. That stick shift should not be in a 5 liter Mustang. They will teach their friends and cousins how to drive a stick shift. You will get good at replacing clutches.

They will teach their friends how to destroy a clutch . You will go broke replaces clutches.

No offense meant Mr. Manolito .

When I was 15 my parents bought me a non-running 20 year old pick up truck. No AC, No power steering, No power brakes, lap belts, etc. It cost them $800, If I wanted to be able to drive it, I was told that to put in some sweat equity, I had to help my dad (who is very mechanically-inclined) to basically restore it over the course a year. We pulled it off, and I drove the F-100 until I was a senior in high school.

If I were considering a vehicle to purchase for my kid(s), I would probably lean more towards a modern sedan, something like an 2006-2012 Fusion, or similar vintage Accord/Camry. If the kid is into cars, maybe something more eclectic like a Forester XT or a Lancer Ralliart (toned down Evo), or IS300, If you don’t already have one, you might also consider getting a pickup truck, they are incredibly useful to have around, and if you get a full-sized truck, it’s have such poor fuel economy, that the kid will have to think long and hard about whether or not he/she really wants to go out on the town.


Pretty soon there won’t be stick shifts. Audi announced recently that they are not offering manual transmissions anymore. Here’s an article you don’t want to read about the end of the manual transmission.

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My kids may never need to drive a stick shift (other than driving my cars), but I made sure that they grew up knowing how to swim, ride a horse, ride a motorcycle, drive a stick shift, do basic car maintenance, etc.

My grand-kids may never need a driver’s license at all.

As for me - when they pry my cold dead hand off the stick shift…


My grand daughter turned 16 this past June and had her learner’s permit for about a year before that. Her family can’t afford to purchase a car for her. She had the use of either of the family’s minivans–a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander or the 2011 Toyota Sienna. Minivans aren’t cool and are relatively safe vehicles. I think driving the minivans will make driving a regular car easy.
I didn’t own a car until I was through college. I got my first job between my sophomore and junior year of high school. After my junior year, I found a car in my price range–a 1940 LaSalle. The dealer let me test drive the LaSalle. I drove it home to show my dad. He made me take it right back to the dealer. My dad didn’t believe a teenager needed a car. However, I had the use of either of the two family cars.
One thing my dad did was make me responsible for maintaining the car after I got my driver’s license. This was s good experience in responsibility. Money was rather tight when I was growing up so we worked together as a family unit.
One result of taking responsibility for maintaining the family cars was that I got to know the mechanics. They would explain what needed to be done. I learned a lot from these men which was really helpful when I was and had to.maintain my.own car.
Had I had the a new car as a teenage driver, I would probably have purchased a Studebaker Scotsman because they were easy to maintain and repair.


The kids want you to think minivans aren’t cool, but secretly, they love them. They can carry 6 or 7 friends, all with a seat belt. Instant party!

My sister knew a guy with an old Chrysler station wagon. He went to breakfast one Saturday, and his father kept trying to get him to look in the driveway. It was Dad, and what male teen listens to his father? After breakfast, he went out to drive somewhere, and immediately ran in saying his car was gone. His father sad no, it’s there. This went back and forth a while, and finally the kid discovered that Dad had replaced the old wagon with a new 280SL Benz. The son actually told his dad that he wanted the Chrysler back so that he could take all his friends with him. Can’t do that with a stinky, new SL. No siree, Bob. So, be skeptical when they tell you that minivans aren’t cool. It could be reverse psychology at work.

Thank you for this

One of my nephews took over the Chrysler minivan and turned the back to a dorm room/band practice room. Would drive to the park or other places with bunch of friends. They donated the car to their gardener and bought him a sedan.