Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Best Car for a new teenage driver

alp8alp8 Posts: 656
So what would you folks put your 16-year old teen (female) into?

I am not all that concerned about mpg, as she will not be driving it much - just back and forth to school, and to soccer practice (local). I guess it's possible she could put 20 miles/day on it, but that is on the high side. And it's likely that in a year or so, she will be shuttling her younger sister around, a bit.

I would like it to have AWD, as we have a place in the mountains and she may need to drive it up there in the winter.

I am leaning toward a small wagon, but I want it to be safe, as we live in California which means a fair share of freeway driving.

Yes, I am willing to buy used, and I don't necessarily expect her to take this vehicle to college. I can hand this one down to her younger sister and get her a different, higher MPG vehicle for college, if she even needs a car for college. (I didn't have one, and it wasn't a disaster.)

Oh, and let's keep the dollar limit at $20k.

Used Volvo V50?
Really used Volvo V70?

Am curious if any of you would recommend an SUV, as I believe teens should not drive SUVs as I don't believe they are likely to know how to handle them. I think the rollover risk is less in a convertible. We use a particularly dangerous section of freeway, notorious for overturns, so I'd like to miminize the potential for that.


  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Impreza wagon, if you can find one. Or an AWD Toyota Matrix or Pontiac Vibe. Any of those would be good, not prone to tipping, and modest enough to keep her out of trouble.
  • prosaprosa Posts: 280
    I second the vote for an Impreza wagon (more commonly called the Outback Sport). It has Subaru's proven AWD system, excellent IIHS crash-test ratings, and you can get one for under $20K out the door.
  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaPosts: 1,078
    I would say a '97-'00 Jeep Wrangler with both tops. This way you are looking at a vehicle that can take a little punishment and has 4WD. If I was going for a vehicle that was not 4WD I would go for a Del Sol or something along the line with only 2 seats.

    Odie's Carspace
  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    odie: Please give your reasoning behind a two-seater (I think I agree with it, by the way)

    I was thinking of an old Volvo V70 (XC70?) wagon, with the rear seats taken out.

    "Why?" people might ask.

    I am guessing Odie has the answer.
  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaPosts: 1,078
    The reason for the 2 seater would be less people you could put into the car = less people hurt in an accident.
    Also most of the 2 seaters from the late 90's you could get with-out much power to it = less chance of speeding + better MPG.

    Odie's Carspace
  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    no, that's not the reason

    come on, odie!!!

    teenagers are tremendously impaired by having more passengers in the car. Hell, I can barely drive when I have 4 teenagers in the car. Teens are actually very safe drivers when they are in the car, alone.

    but thank you for your ideas!!!

    My daughter is a pretty sensible kid, so I think she'll be a fairly conservative driver. We'll see once we really get out there.
  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    I like the Impreza suggestion
  • mirthmirth Posts: 1,212
    Basically a Toyota but cheaper and a lot of cargo room.
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    Hmm, interesting question. I've got an 18 year old daughter who is heading off to college next week and we bought her a Saturn ION 2 equipped with ABS and traction control.

    Not sure that you need AWD if you only head to the mountains a few times a year. We live in Colorado and probably see more days of bad weather in a single winter than she will experience in several years - traction control, coupled with plowed roads, should be more than enough. That way, the other 360 days a year, you don't have the weight penalty of the AWD dragging down mileage.

    But, I do like the idea of the Vibe .. test drove one with some friends a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised with how much room there was inside.
  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    Michaell: I agree re the AWD, but the driveway of our place in Tahoe is north facing and steep. Unless it is absolutely clear, making it up is tough. I've made it over Donner Pass and then been unable to get up the driveway.


    I'll take the decreased fuel economy, given how few miles she will be driving.

    I feel differently about the car she takes to college, however, as she's likely to drive more in college, especially if college is within a day's drive of home. Making a few hundred mile drive once a month is a lot of gas, and I'd go for something more fuel-wise. But I doubt she'll put 10 miles/day on her high school car. Yeah, I've been wrong before.

    Of course, we could just sell our place in Tahoe and buy one with a better driveway.....but it makes such an EXCELLENT sleddling run!!!


    Best wishes to your daughter in her college adventure.
  • m1miatam1miata Posts: 4,556
    The Subaru line of AWD is hard to beat. That's what they do. With intelligent AWD, and the boxer engine, they are good little cars.

    When I was her age, I bought a motorcycle, which of course I would not do today. With so many cars on the road, it would be going from risky in my time, to out and out crazy these days to challenge the cars on the road. But I did buy every bike, motorcycle, and car myself. Should have kept a used car called the Mustang, bought for $1,100 back around 1970.
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    Sorry, for some reason I thought we were talking about the mountains in Southern California (Big Bear Lake, Arrowhead) .. must be because I grew up in Ventura County.


    I have some friends who owned a house with a driveway like yours and I totally understand where you're coming from. Given that the Tahoe area gets snow measured in the dozens or scores of inches it makes perfect sense that AWD is a necessity.

    Since I'm such a Saturn nut, how about a VUE with AWD? You might be able to get into a new one right around your $20K price limit. Lots of space; decent gas mileage (we average about 22-23 MPG with the Honda-sourced V6 and AWD) and the polymer panels, IMO, will allow the car to look great years down the road.
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    I'd look for a 93-94' range AWD Audi S4-Quattro. My god some of you guys are "boring" his poor daughter. :surprise:

    alp8, I doubt she wants to drive a station wagon. Why not get her at least a sedan ? The Audi S4's of the early 90's came with "bullet-proof" turbo 5-cylinders. Yes they are hard to find, but seem to make good practical cars that are safe.

    Just my 2-cents. ;)

  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    Pontiac Vibe or Toyota Matrix

    AWD for safety
    under $20K for price
    mpg 25-31 or thereabouts even with AWD

    You just need to make sure it's OK with teenagers.
  • mirthmirth Posts: 1,212
    You just need to make sure it's OK with teenagers.

    Ha! My kid will get what I give them. :P If that means mom's old minivan, then so be it.
  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    nice idea - I like it when people think outside the box
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    Thanks. I'm trying to help out. I remember when I was 16, I wouldn't want to drive a wagon. A sedan like a Audi Quattro would have plenty of pep and would give her a safe AWD vehicle that get's good gas mileage out of one of the best 5-cylinder engines in the world. ;)

  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    How is a 12- to 13-year-old Audi supposed to be reliable, especially a sport model that could very likely have been thrashed?

    Also, it seems like too much importance is being placed on that very last part of the drive -- the very steep driveway.

    Is it possible to park at the bottom and walk up if necessary? Then, awd wouldn't be needed.

    Also, 2-seaters and SUVs of any kind should be dismissed as out of hand. You need a larger car with more predictable handling for a teenager. I think the evidence is pretty clear now that side curtain airbags and stability control are much more likely to save your backside than awd.
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    I think the evidence is pretty clear now that side curtain airbags and stability control are much more likely to save your backside than awd.

    AWD, IMHO in slippery conditions is still better than any stability, or curtain airbag devices. Cars without such devices in the early 90's were pretty darn safe. Their are cars today such as a Toyota Yaris, that have those devices and still are unsafe. ;)

  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Stability control will probably keep you from losing it better than awd or 4wd in dry, wet, or slippery conditions.

    Side curtain airbags are far superior to not having them if you do get hit in the side.

    Still, as I said, I wouldn't recommend a small car like a Yaris for a teenager. My son wanted a Mini Cooper when he went to L.A. last year -- he got our 2004 Camry with side airbags instead.
Sign In or Register to comment.