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Best Car for a new teenage driver



  • If it's as high as you say it is the Smart probably wouldn't be damaged either. ;)
    Maybe if the driver of said Smart was shaken you could load their car into the cargo hold and bring them someplace to calm down. :)
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Looks like someone already had that idea.
    Of course, you're right - it might be easy to just load into the cargo bay after a crash. I honestly haven't seen anything that bad since VW Bugs were on the road.
  • Yikes. I'm not a fan of Smart cars myself, but that's sad. I hope nobody was hurt.

    The sad part is that the first one was probably loaded with 2 or 3 decent sized guys without a forklift. I think they're just too small for our roadways and the number of huge land barges that are floating around. I wouldn't feel safe in one.

    I'm not talking down about choices that people make about what they drive. That's their prerogative, but something that small is not Smart (pardon the pun). They're barely more visible than a motorcycle.

    /end off topic discussion. :)

    Nice finds with the pics though.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 10,059
    there numbers are measured this way:

    In 2006 small pickups experienced 116 driver deaths per million registered vehicles

    I see that as a fairly meaningless stat. some people drive 5,000 miles a year, others 50,000. i would prefer passenger miles, like airline safety is measured.
  • Those oil 4Runners don't even have side impact door beams. That is a big problem in a side impact and putting some nerf bars or rock crushers on the side isn't going to help.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    I guarantee 3 inch diameter steel tubes bolted and then welded directly to the frame at the height of a car bumper will count as "side impact protection". The problem with automobiles is that the bumpers of the SUVs and trucks and so on are right at their window height. Every car since the 60s pretty much has had some sort of reinforcement in the doors to keep them from completely crushing in, but the impact has to be on the door and not at the window.

    The sliders/nerf bars are 18 inches high and the front bumper is 40 inches at the top and covers the entire area in the middle. True, the sides aren't protected versus a truck like mine, but I also have a roll bar installed right behind the front seats(there's one in the bed as well - came that way). I figure if they get lucky enough to hit me at the right angle with a SUV where they don't hit the nerf or roll bars first, my number was up anyways. Roling over while off-roading was my #1 concern, so I put the extra protection in for a couple of hundred dollars.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,109
    In 2006 small pickups experienced 116 driver deaths per million registered vehicles

    This doesn't give a complete picture either but compare it with 130 deaths per million vehicle miles ( for cars.

    On the other hand, 40,000 traffic fatalities each year with 260 MILLION registered vehicles (of all types) works out to about 150 deaths per million registered vehicles.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738 - - - =name

    If you look at the actual data, look at the last three rows - that covers insurance claims for people getting injured. If you look at the Tacoma and then the 4x4 version, you'll see a dramatic drop in injuries. Now, compare the data to a small 4 door sedan - almost any will do. There's a massive difference in most cases in safety between midsize and fuill size trucks and SUVs and cars.

    I'll bring up one of my favorite personal sayings: "There is no substitute for mass."

    In a crash, big, high, and heavy wins almost every time. And these SUVs and trucks are not tiny 4 cylinder micro-boxes any more.

    Here is the relevant data from 2005-2007:

    Tacoma XTra Cab 2wd 74 81 94
    Tacoma Xtra Cab 4x4 62 53 66
    4Runner 2wd 77 87 94
    4Runner 4x4 75 60 68 (2 inches higher, mostly)
    Buick Lucerne 52 59 82
    Buick LaCrosse 74 69 76
    Toyota Avalon 79 73 66
    (100 is considered the industry average - the SUVs skew the data as you can see, since there are so many on the road)
    Toyota Camry 131 124 102
    Honda Civic 125 124 102
    Toyota Corolla 152 144 122
    Ford Focus 145 166 137
    Nissan Sentra 168 189 154
    Toyota Yaris 208 191 193 (yikes)

    There are a few exceptions, but the rule generally holds true(some suvs and trucks are worse(though still at least as good as cars), and some small cars are much better than you would expect.

    Dodge Durango 2WD 123 129 123 (worst truck I could find for those years, still equal to the Civic's and Camry's ratings, more or less)
    VW Beetle 83 88 83 (surprising result)
    I see a lot of SUVs and trucks in the top list.
    Nine out of the ten are trucks and SUVs. Big wins in a crash, just like common sense tells us it should. The trick is to get big *AND* fuel efficient. That means a 4 cylinder or V6 engine, which is where the imports have a better selection.

    But you have to research the year and model you are interested in, of course. Many of the older vehicles aren't nearly as good as recent models, and there are specific ones to avoid, naturally.
    (as an example, even my ancient 4Runner gets a combined score of 93 which is why it's common to add extra protection to get it closer to the 70-80 "normal" range for SUVs) *note - the Volvo 240 of the same year got a 91.*
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 10,059
    motorcycle fatalities are usually 1 or 2 per each.
  • cbuicbui Posts: 3
    my first car was a 2003 Honda CR-V. it was a really great and stable car, with no issues about safety. it's bigger and better than a small sedan, but not too overbearing like a full sized SUV. and of course, it was completely reliable. just food for thought.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,353
    State Patrol drives Ford Crown Victorias. They appreciate the safety of a massive vehicle. Why put your little darling in anything less? ;)
  • The State Police drive Crown Vics because they are cheap to maintain and repair not because they are that much safer then a comparable modern unibody car. BOF cars are inherently less safe then a modern unibody car. Crumple zones simply can't be designed as well on a BOF vehicle as they can on a unibody vehicle.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    Also a Crown Vic is a big car for a first time driver.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,353
    A 50 cc scooter maybe? After all, he is a first time driver. If a student pilot - a Piper Cub would be appropriate vs a Twin Beech.
  • mkmacnabmkmacnab Posts: 1
    Plekto - I came across this post of yours when I was searching for info on side impact protection for toyota tacomas. I'm about to buy a 99 tacoma and want to reinforce it for side impact if possible. Can you tell me a little more about your roll bars, especially the one you have behind the seats. Where did you have it done? Is it a particular brand? Anything you can tell me would be a great help! - Thanks.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,592
    Best car for my daughter? An Amphicar but taht's been going on in another thread...

    She's not a teenager though. 21. Drowned her Camry two weeks ago. Just got to a full fleet again yesterday.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited March 2010
    Plekto - I came across this post of yours when I was searching for info on side impact protection for toyota tacomas. I'm about to buy a 99 tacoma and want to reinforce it for side impact if possible. Can you tell me a little more about your roll bars, especially the one you have behind the seats. Where did you have it done? Is it a particular brand? Anything you can tell me would be a great help! - Thanks.

    Mine's made by Marlin Crawler. But there are others. The idea is simple - a roll bar or internal cage a few inches back of the rear of the seats. It's not going to keep the door from caving in, but it will add another hard object that the other vehicle has to get through in a side impact. Given the width of a typical car's front end, only hitting the door and nothing front or rear of it seems improbable.

    I also have side bars/sliders on it that are welded to the frame, so that's layer #2. If it gets through both, I'd have died in a normal car anyways.

    Come on over - it's a nice forum with tons of helpful ( if a bit nuts ;) ) people.

    EDIT: They only have stuff currently for the older Tacomas. - something like this might work, though I.m sure someone at MC or on the forums would know more than I do about this.
    My sliders are these - it might not look like much, but it's enormous compared to nothing or even an internal steel bar in the door. The new Tacomas are very good but the older ones like yours and mine aren't designed for side impacts, so this is pretty much all you can do. Combined with a 2-4 inch suspension lift, it will be at their front grille height. The cage and this make for a very tough side "wall" from them to get through.

    EDIT - if it's a normal 4x4, a lift isn't required, really - just put 30-31 inch tires on it and go.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,592
    Now I know a host will soon delete the spam above but I find it kind of appropriate that in best car for a teen driver we get a shoe commercial....
  • adragadrag Posts: 3
    Honda Civic Si or an Accord hands down. I don't care for the new ones as much. Prefer 1999 - 2005. They're sturdy, solid cars. Low maintenance, have good sized cargo room. You can forget to put oil in, drive them into the ground and they keep going.
    Believe it or not, they handle well in the snow. Just add a little weight to the back.
    I drove mine across the Coquihalla hwy in BC in the winter when it was closed. Several times with all season tires. Everyone else was in the ditch or stuck. The secret is not to brake and down shift even in an automatic. I had a 18 wheeler trailer slide over my car and drag me for half a mile at 100km. Car was a little twisted but I was completely fine not a scratch. Several nights before a woman in a 4X4 truck had the same thing happen she didn't make it.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,966
    An Si for a new teenage driver? Hell no!

    '14 CTS Vsport; '15 Fit LX 6-spd; '98 Volvo S70 base; '14 Town&Country Limited

  • Why?

    Shouldn't cost more than $5-6k a year for liability ;)
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,172
    My son will be driving in two years. The best car for him will be a 2005 Passat wagon or a 2000 Honda Odyssey. His choice.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Remember though that the Odyssey is sold in Japan and the rest of the world with a 4 cylinder engine. The automatic in the U.S. version is identical and is not designed to work with a V6. Hence the enormous number of transmission failures that are plaguing it. I'd drop it as soon as possible and get something more reliable, because a $3000 transmission repair bill is a large amount of the car's entire worth at this point.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,592
    He's had the van for 11 years and you're telling him it's unreliable?
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    I'm saying that in another 2 years, it'll be a 13 year old Honda with a new driver at the wheel and almost for certain the transmission, if it's not dead by then, will likely not survive a brand new driver who doesn't drive it as carefully.

    13-15 years for an Odyssey is about it as far as the transmission and electrical systems are concerned. Something is going to cause a big repair bill by then.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,172
    The van is 11 yo as fezo noted with 120K on it. I've gotten plenty of life out of it and right now it's used as a third vehicle getting driven maybe 50 miles a week. Thus far, it's been a reliable and bullet proof vehicle. Remember, the vast majority of that vintage Odyssey DIDN'T have the transmission issue.

    If my son kills it when he gets it, I'll be fine with that. Today the car isn't worth the cost of a transmission. When it dies, I'll call one of the charities.

    The plan is actually to have that Odyssey go to Maine so my in-laws can use it in the summer for grocery runs and the such. If it lasts a couple of more years, then the boy can have it or the VW wagon as I plan on getting another car when he learns to drive. That car will be used and will be passed down to his sister 3 years after that.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 1,065
    That sounds like a great plan. That van should have a lot of life in it, and my cardinal rule is never give a valuable car to a new teen driver. The only caveat I would add is that with a van, it often will have more people in it than is good for a new driver. For that reason I prefer an old sedan -- big, old, and slow!
    '14 Buick Encore; '13 Honda Accord EX-L
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,172
    The only caveat I would add is that with a van, it often will have more people in it than is good for a new driver.

    Oh I know that. But MA has some pretty strong restrictions on new drivers. Further, we're pretty lucky in the fact that he's rule follower.

    In reality, he'll most likely get the VW wagon.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 7,152
    edited November 2011
    ...continues to be the 1975 BMW 2002 I bought a few years ago. It's inexpensive to run as well as maintain. I did buy an LED tail lamp retrofit kit to make the car a bit more visible- and I replaced the seatbelts with rebuilt units. My son has also attended the two day teen school at the BMW Performance Center as well as the one day Street Survival course. I believe that proper training is a more important factor than vehicle selection.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport 1975 2002A 2007 Mazdaspeed 3 1999 Wrangler 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2009 328i Son's: 2004 X3 2.5

  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,268
    I believe that proper training is a more important factor than vehicle selection.

    That works for reducing the odds of being the cause of an accident, but it doesn't do anything towards surviving an accident caused by someone else. For that you should really want your son's car to have safety systems that weren't available in 1975. Air bags, side impact strengtheners, improved rollover protection, crumple zones, and other designs, materials, and technology make accidents not only survivable but can drastically reduce the severity of injuries.

    I say this only with the best wishes for your son's health in mind. I've personally seen how the lives of those around me were impacted as a result of auto accidents. About six years ago one friend's teenage son became quadriplegic as a result of an accident in a '93 Accord. Rollover protection & ABS + airbags probably would have changed that. 30+ years post-accident my sister still limps & had to deliver her kids via C-section as a result of an accident in a late '70s car (she was a passenger) that broke her pelvis. Side impact strengtheners & again airbags would probably have changed her life.

    In the past 13 months, though, two other adult male friends both walked away from separate accidents (both were unavoidably rear-ended while commuting on the highway) as their cars had crumple zones, whiplash protection, & air bags. The cars were both totaled but that hardly matters as my friends were both able to go home to their families.
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