August 26th, 2014


Teen Safety, with Budget in Mind

I was surprised yesterday when my daughter told me I'd promised to give first my Tiburon to my son, then the Grand Marquis - and then changed my mind on both without telling anyone why. I laughed out loud at the accusation, because it would have been so out-of-character for me to have done so. And at the end of a rather humorous question/answer session, she giggled she may have been mistaken.

You see, when I first discussed purchasing the Lotus my son asked, "So when you get the Lotus are you going to give me your Tiburon?"
"Does that mean you're going to give me the Grand Marquis?"

I explained, rather verbosely, all the reasons why. I do most everything rather verbosely, a double-edged sword for my children who sometimes want a simple answer from me. Almost no discussion takes place between us without covering a whole host of pro's and con's and various scenarios which could take place between them. It makes for good critical thinkers, and that's what I'm trying to raise; smart, critical thinkers who can discern good decisions from the bad.

As my son grows into his beginner driving years, I've been forthcoming with stories of the successful, and the less fortunate. He points out a 2014 'Vette and I explain the astronomical difference in insurance alone for a 16-year old between it, and say, an old Camry. We've had many a discussion concerning the price of an alternator for a Cavalier versus the price of an alternator for a BMW, as well as the total-cost-of-ownership of a more expensive late model car as opposed to a lower priced much older car. I'm covering all bases here.

Other conversations have been surrounding "first car" experiences. I told him of a co-worker's son who wouldn't have anything less than an almost new Lexus IS, then totaled it 30-days later. He couldn't afford another, so has been driving a Corolla for the last 4-years. "Wouldn't have been prudent to buy a cheap car first just in case you total it, then drive the nice car once you're more experienced?"

He remembers these stories; quotes them back to me when queried.

Then A Person of Interest sent me the following article on good cars for new drivers:

This year, the IIHS compiled a list of affordable used vehicles that meet specific safety guidelines, including:

  • Low horsepower options: Base engines have adequate power for teens and are less likely to tempt teens to drive too fast or aggressively.

  • Bigger and heavier: These vehicles offer more protection in the event of a crash, and research shows teens are less likely to crash bigger, heavier vehicles than small cars and minicars.

  • Equipped with electronic stability control (ESC): This feature prevents sideways skidding and loss of control that can lead to rollovers and other kinds of crashes.

Best choice for teens: 2005 Volvo XC90

The 2005 Volvo is the least expensive vehicle on the IIHS Best Choice list. Valued around $7,000 by Kelly Blue Book for the lowest trim level, it also meets current IIHS Top Safety Pick criteria.

Good choices for teens ($5,000 or less)

The IIHS also recommends three vehicles that cost around $5,000 or less according to Kelly Blue Book:

  • 2006 Volkswagen Passat: $5,100.

  • 2006 Kia Sedona: $4,600.

  • 2005 Saab 9-3: $4,000.

My son and I looked over the list of cars and agreed they were a pretty nice combination of value, safety, and good looks for a first vehicle. We're still a couple years away from this, but fate favors the prepared, and we're having good conversations, setting realistic expectations, and keeping our options open. I think we'll both be ready when the time comes!