Choosing a Car for My Teen Driver, AgainA couple years ago, I wrote a post about choosing a car for a teen driver. I decided to buy a car for my son before he turned 16 so he could practice driving in winter conditions with the same car he would be driving on his own someday. Here in Iowa, teens can get an Instruction Permit to drive with parents in the car starting at age 14.
It would have been cheaper to have him share my car or my wife's car while he was learning to drive, but that would not have worked out for very long. We were planning for my son to drive to school on his own and take our youngest son as well.
The car we picked out for my oldest son is working out very well so far and now it is time to do it again. My youngest son will be turning 16 in about a year. He has driven some with the cars we have, but I am starting to decide what kind of car to get him.
Of course I could make my oldest son and youngest son share a car to save money, but soon my oldest son will be off to college and I think it would be good to have my son get some experience driving the same car that he will be driving with a parent in the car.
Best Cars For Teens Under $5,000Our price range is under $5,000 again to avoid making car payments. We are looking for the usual features: safety, reliability, enough room to haul stuff to college one day. Even in high school, kids have all kinds of stuff they need to haul around- musical instruments, sporting equipment, science projects, etc.
I would give bonus points for a car with all-wheel drive to get around better on snow and ice. I am not that worried about fuel economy since my kids will not be driving very many miles, and all of the cars we are considering are small vehicles with small engines.
There are lists around of good cars for teens, but these lists usually have a much higher price range than I could afford and look at much newer models than I can consider. Finding a good car in the under $5,000 range takes some patience and willingness to go with a good find if it comes along.
I want my son to be excited about his first car, so I am interested in his preferences for color, style, etc. As long as we get something that is under $5,000 and is safe and reliable I will be pretty happy. We will be looking at a car about 10 years old, around the 2005 model year to meet our budget. Based on my preference for something with a lot of cargo room and all-wheel drive, here are some of my favorite models to consider:
Pontiac Vibe / Toyota Matrix
|Pontiac Vibe / Toyota Matrix|
Chrysler PT Cruiser
|Chrysler PT Cruiser|
Volvo V70 Station Wagon
|Volvo V70 Wagon|
The Volvo V70 has 4 doors and a hatchback. Volvo has a good reputation for safety, and the V70 has an all-wheel drive option. I am not sure how this will rate with my son for style, but I think this would be a good reliable car with lots of cargo capability.
All Subarus are all-wheel drive, so this is covered. The Subaru Outback is a station wagon form of either a Subaru Legend or Subaru Impreza. With 4 doors and a hatchback, an Outback would be good at handling some cargo.
Which Car Will We Choose For Our Teen Driver?I think any of these would be good choices, and I am sure there are other good options as well. I will work with my son to find out what he prefers and then zero in on a particular model to find one in great condition, with the options we want, and within our budget of $5,000. And hopefully the right color, too...