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Teen Boy - First Vehicle

My paramaters:

Under 3.5K (don’t plan on paying for collision insurance)

Reasonable Maintence costs

Easy to handle & safe

His Parameters:

Not totally uncool (i’ve been suggesting a Lesabre/Century and he thinks they’re old people cars, although to me they’re no different than a camry/accord)

He’s a baseball player and I’m considering a SUV so he can just throw his gear in the back.

So here’s my list based on craiglist offerings in our areas and what looks to be decent vehicles

SUV Route:

late 90’s / early 00’s explorer/blazer (100-150k miles)

mid-late 90’s pathfinder/4runner with

(125-175k miles)

Wouldn’t mind a CR-V or Escape, but they seem to be slightly out of price range


late 90’s-early 2000’s buick/chevy/pontiac

late 90’s-early 2000’s taurus

how about mazda’s (626/323 etc), what are they like for maintenance? (don’t seem to have the cache of toyota/honda, so more in line with american cars in price)

Also, any opinions on Altimas/Maxima’s for the same time period … I occassionally will see an Altima in my price range that seems to be in decent shape.

From your list, I’d stick with the cars, with the Mazda/Altima on top. No need for a v6 in those, a 4 is enough. SUVs that you list are subject to flipping, especially in the hands of a new driver.

You shouldn’t need an SUV, I play baseball and all my gear fits easily into the trunk of my '03 Civic. Even catcher’s gear would fit. SUV’s are top heavy and a new driver might push it too hard in a corner, and that isn’t pretty.

Stay away from VW’s, older ones just seem to have too many repair bills. A Mazda or Nissan Altima would work, but no V6’s and no Nissan Maxima’s. Anything with a manual transmission would increase the “cool” factor. You won’t find a Century with a stick, but you might find a Camry, Accord, or Civic with a stick. A stick 4 cylinder Ford Ranger might work, but not a great winter choice if you live in a snowy area.

A 2wd, 4 cyl, low powered but economical compact pick up served our 2 teens quite well. With a cap on back, it will handle all the gear but minimize the distractions “a car load of kids” will have on the driver.
They are inexpensive to buy and own.

Skip the SUV. As already suggested, they’re at their most dangerous in exactly the type of situation that new drivers tend to get themselves into: taking a curve too quickly, entering a highway offramp too fast, and having to make a sudden avoidance maneuver (new drivers tend to make more of these because experienced drivers can anticipate better).

Any car you find in this price range will need to be checked over carefully, including a look up on a lift. Hook up with your mechanic to arrange this.

And don’t forget…one of your relatives may just have something that they’re ready to part with that has a known history.

The gear will also fit behind the front seats in an extended cab pick-up. On a nice day gear can be stowed in the bed without a cap. Maybe he’d like a storage box mounted in the back. As you may recall, there’s all kinds of trouble a young man can get into inside the cap when the truck is, um, parked.

The people you should be talking to is your insurance agent, they’ll know more than most of us will. And I’m pretty sure they’ll tell you to steer clear of those SUVs you’ve mentioned.
Get him what YOU want him to have, not what he wants. It’s your money, right? Let him find a part time job to help defer the cost of insurance, maintenance and whatnot associated with a car of that age. Then, when he’s saved up enough money, HE can buy what HE wants and insure it himself. If he finds something like a Mustang or Camaro he wants(and you don’t want him to have), then take him to the insurance place and let him take out his own policy on himself so he can see just how much that car will cost him

You’re reading my mail !

Mazda 626 automatic transmissions don’t last long, you’d want a stick shift instead of automatic.

good insight!!! :slight_smile:

4 runner. they are very dependable and easy to work on if he should happen to take an interest in maintaining and or repairing his own vehicle. (repairs are few and far between with toyota…