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Old or new for teenager?

I am looking for a car and have a few in mind. I am a junior in high school so I need this car to last through high school AND college. I need it to be safe and reliable for those weekends coming home from college. Which car would be the best (safest, most reliable,etc) between a 1999 Lexus RX300 w/ 137,000mls…or…a 2005 Chevy Equinox w/ 110,000mls…or…2005 Hyundai Tucson w/ around 100,000mls…??? Please help!!! OR any other car suggestions???

A chat with an insurance agent will likely tell you what to look for. No use going after the Lexus if it’ll cost more to insure than the Tuscon. They’ll likely tell you a newer Ford Taurus or Toyota Camry will be your best bet.
I’d rule out the Lexus for 2 reasons. 1, it’s older and 2, jealous classmates

You need something reliable, inexpensive to run and fairly comfortable for trips. Corolla or Civic should be included in your search.

I used this web site to help me decide, we ended up with a 2007 Subaru Forester:

I like to suggest fairly new Kias (or Hyundais) for this type of thing. They’re pretty cheap and economical to run, have the 10/100 warranty, etc. The new ones are getting pretty slick, too, with available bluetooth, satnav, and everything else. They’re not the garbage they used to be. Plus, they cost less than just about everything out there.

Of course, a lot of people just don’t like them.

Is there a particular reason you’re looking at SUV’s? If SUV is where you have to be, The tucson is a decent one. Don’t rule out the Highlander either.

With gas prices as volatile as they are, unless you are supported in your choice by a money bags benefactor, why would a student choose anything but the most economical and reliable compact they can find ? SUVs are comparable gas hogs and needed only if the college you are going to attend is in some where like Presque Isle Maine.

Along That Line Of Thinking . . .

I rode the school bus to high school every day, standing up holding my books. They probably wouldn’t allow it now, but by the time the bus got to my stop the seats were all full. (No, it wasn’t uphill in both directions.)

I bought an old 40 horsepower VW bug that had 6 volt lights, about zero heat, Mickey Mouse windshield wipers, AM radio, and no creature comforts, to commute to work and college that I attended simultaneously.

However, I learned the value of money, learned how to maintain and repair cars, got work experience, learned how to prioritize, and had no debt of any kind during or after graduating college.

I hope Hope comes back and assures me that the car will be paid for and the college education won’t result in accumulated debt.

Perhaps it’s all taken care of, but many young folks today want to start at the top, skipping the school of hard knocks. To get some extra money, my own sixteen year-old daughter (sophomore), wants to just apply to some organizations and become a CEO.

Maybe I’m just envious because I had to start in the school of hard knocks, at the bottom.


Jealous classmates doesn’t necessarily apply. At the high school I went to, a Lexus would have been in the middle tier of student cars - especially one as old as that. One kid had a Mach-1 Mustang. Another had a Porsche, and several drove Mercedes.

I agree with the anti-SUV recommendation. In the first place, you’re a new driver and don’t need a weapon of that caliber until you’re more experienced. In the second, do you really want to pay $4/gallon in a vehicle that gets poor gas mileage?

I do, however, understand the desire to have a “cool” car, especially speaking as someone who was saddled with a minivan in his early driving days. Have you considered a Toyota Celica? They’re safe, reliable, cool-looking, and fun to drive.

to CSA…I have definitely learned the value of money and still am. I have a job and have listened to my parents and seen how they work with money. I can assure you the car will be paid for…I saved up a few thousand and my parents are matching that and spending NO MORE. As for college I hope to get scholarships…
to EVERYONE… THankS so much for your thoughts!!! I’m definitely going to look at cars rather than just SUV’s.

Hope, Sounds Good.

Keep earning and saving in case that full ride scholarship thing doesn’t come through.
Choose something safe. Thanks.

25~30mpg highway is a decent figure for an SUV. Also, most that get that mileage will have less than a 20 gallon tank(my SUV has an 18.2 gallon tank) and be car based. is a good site to get ideas, you’ll get more info on that site than you’ll know what to do with.


Look for a car that is no more than 5 years old. You will likely end up with a compact car with about 50,000 miles or so. You can go for a Civic or Corolla, but expect to pay a couple thousand more than you would for a Kia, Hyundai, or Chevrolet. We have a 2009 Chevy Cobalt LT1. It rides well, and has decent handling. It also gets over 30 MPG, and at $4+ for gas, that’s a good thing. The SUVS you mention will get no more than about 25 MPG. Remember that even reliable brands like Lexus will break down, and with increasing regularity as they age. The RX300 will need fewer repairs than a similar Land Rover, but they are still expensive repairs since it’s a luxury SUV.

“Which car would be the best (safest, most reliable,etc)”

The one that is driven prudently and is properly serviced and maintained.  

No car is going to be cheaper to own if it is not properly maintained. All maintenance listed in the owner's manual needs to be done.

assuming an $8k budget(the 3 vehicles mentioned were about that price on edmunds) any Land Rover in that price range would probably cost that much just to keep it on the road for a year

“… any Land Rover in that price range would probably cost that much just to keep it on the road for a year”

That’s why I chose it - the epitome of poor reliability.