Opinions Needed: Which Car Should the Kid Get?

We’ve sent our son far away to Vermont for college, and he needs a car to do the occasional hauling of his stuff and commuting from VT to GA. We’ve recently taken possession of my sister-in-law’s 2007 VW Rabbit and were thinking of sending him in that.

However, I’m wondering if we should send him in the 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee instead (it’s the next newest car we’ve got – really). We’ve been driving these old cars around for ages (my usual is the 1985 Buick Century), and I love the idea of having a newer car to tool around in. However, my husband thinks it’s better to send the kid off in the newer car which has front-wheel drive, a trunk that doesn’t leak, is a bit less likely to need repairs, and that is only a 2-door after all.

I’m just curious what the crowd here might make of the discussion. (just a note, the Rabbit has just over 70K miles, the Jeep has over 165K, as does the Buick).

Not the newest car in the fleet. The '85 Century is FWD and with winter tires is fine in VT. The Cherokee has more room for his stuff and 4WD if he needs it. Having to spend more for gas for the Cherokee may keep him closer to school and his studies. Whatever he takes make sure the brakes are sound, the tires have good tread, and he has a AAA card.

I vote for a non-SUV, be it the Buick or the VW. I have seen what happens when a young inexperienced driver makes a mistake in an SUV and accidentally rolls it.

heck you could get him a 91 delta 88 oldsmobile, a 95 pontiac boneville which is fwd, a chevy blazer which is a small suv with good gass mileage, or it might be hard to find, a 1983 oldsmobile cutlass ciera with a 4.3l v6 deisel it gets wonderful gas mileage and doesnt have enough get up and go to squeal the tires and the parts arent to cheap and with enough money and time he could put a turbo on it although it wouldn’t do much for torque and power but it would sound great

Just out of curiosity, which motor on the Century?

I wouldn’t send him out of town with the Century if it has the 2.8L engine, which was still carb-ed at that point and sucked quite bad. The 2.5 motor was almost dangerously slow, but fairly reliable and the 3.8 is actually a pretty nice little mill. If it has either of those two, I’d definitely vote for the Century-- they’re heavy FWD cars that handle very predictably in the snow.

Plus there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to hit a deer and/or smack it into a guardrail the first time it snows (assuming he’s been a southerner all his driving life), so you probably don’t want him to wreck the nice car. I agree that the SUV is not a good choice for a young driver, especially a young driver who will be driving in snow for the first time.

If the Jeep has 4wd it will be a fine choice.

The VW is the safest of the bunch with stability control and modern crash protection.

Couldn’t have said it better…

SUV + Inexperience driver = ACCIDENT.

A good FWD vehicle is a good idea for Vermont. Vermont is all mountains with lots of snow.

To tell the truth, this has been one of my concerns about the Jeep. Vermont is excellent at getting the snow plows out quickly, but there’s still that rollover danger.

Off the top of my head I don’t know which size engine, but it is a 4-cylinder with excellent gas mileage. I had totally forgotten that the Buick is FWD. My only problem is I like the Buick next best (plus, it’s a darned fine comfortable car, which seats 6 in a pinch).

LOL on the adding a turbo. He can do maintenance, but I don’t think he’s up to serious engine modification. I like your suggestions and may look into some of those cars for when he returns in the summer.

I’d give him the Volkswagen with a detailed set of intructions on how to maintain it. Also make sure it has good winter tires, since it can get very snowy in Vermont. He will likely put a ski rack on it as well, and look perfect at the ski hill parking lot.

I don’t buy into the whole “SUV + kid = crash” argument. Alot inexperienced drivers have accidents also alot of kidsdrive SUVs (mostly hand-me-downs from their parents). I’m guessing that on a per captia basis, the percentage of kids who drive regular cars and have accidents are likely similar or close to the ones who drive SUVs.

 I have another approach . . . why not ask your Son to look around and see what kinds of cars everyone is driving in the town where he is attending school.  Of course there will be many, but something will predominate.  Look for the mechanic(s) who deal with these vehicles and then make your choice.  I wouldn't know from personal experience, but perhaps in this snowy wonderland a lot of folks like to drive, for example . . . Subarus.  Get something which will be easily addressed when problems come up for your child and allow him to concentrate on school and not driving or living problems.  And have him take the train (AMTRAK) home for break.  Just my two cents.  Rocketman

If it’s merely a choice between the SUV and the VW . . . I’d give him the VW and put good snow tires on it. Rocketman

Sadly, the greyhound doesn’t go through this town any more, and the Amtrak is a nightmare to travel on from there to here. Otherwise that would be great. Also, he has to haul all his stuff off campus or into storage on campus between semesters (I know…but that’s the school policy)

To be fair, I think a lot of it is: RWD+snow+inexperienced driver= crash, it’s just that SUV’s and trucks are the only rear wheel drive vehicles most people drive these days. Improper use of part-time 4x4 (or overestimation of it’s abilities) can also contribute to crashes. Plus there’s the high center of gravity issue that can turn a crash that would be a simple smack into a guardrail or slide into a ditch with a car into a serious rollover with a truck.

That’s the 2.5L. I think 2.5L Buick Centuries are what every kid should have to drive.

I’m guessing that on a per captia basis, the percentage of kids who drive regular cars and have accidents are likely similar or close to the ones who drive SUVs.

And you’d be wrong. Insurance industry keeps track of this very accurately. Kids tend to drive a LOT more aggressively then adults over the age of 30. That plus the handling of a SUV does NOT make a good mix. Drivers under the age of 25 account for a much larger percentage of accidents then adults from 30 thru 65. After 65 accident rates start rising again.

Give him the VW! A good small front-wheel drive car will be much better in snow and on hills than the Century (good car, had one, but not very good in snow). Forget the Jeep; people “think” that because they have the FWD they can drive any way they please on bad roads. My sister, a very experienced driver, almost rolled us in her Jeep on snow with ice under it–thought I was gonna die. She had repair issues with it, too. I think the Rabbit would be the safest and most appropriate for a college kid.

My husband and I both got a good chuckle out of this. He does drive it (yes, it is 2.5L, so hubby says), and he loves it. I’m not so sure it would a) hold all his stuff, and b) make it on the long trips back and forth.