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Buying Tips For A Great Teen Car

Safety should be the foremost concern for any parent faced with buying a car for a teenage driver. In fact, most of us would like to buy an armored Humvee to keep our kid in one piece while they learn to negotiate the dangers of the road, but obviously, that’s not a feasible option.

Consumer Reports offered parents and teen drivers a helping hand by posting a list of ‘Best Used Cars for Teens’.  The criteria they used included safety, reliability and ease of operation.  And since most parents and teens don’t have a fortune to spend on a vehicle, they also took vehicle cost into consideration.

They narrowed down their picks to five affordable used cars that sell for less than $15,000. The vehicles hail from model years 2008-2010. They have good reliability ratings and key safety features like Electronic Stability Control, which is crucial for inexperienced drivers. Curtain air bags are also features of some of the vehicles they recommend.  Curtain airbags inflate over the vehicle’s side windows to prevent head injury during crash impact.

Their picks are all sedans. Large pickup trucks and SUVs aren’t recommended due to rollover factors and handling difficulty. Sports cars are a no-no for teens because they encourage speeding, have increased crash rates and their smaller size offers less protection for drivers. High insurance rates for sports cars are another reason they’re ruled out.

Mileage estimates for 2008 models of their recommended cars is roughly 66,000; for 2009 models it’s 51,000; and 2010 models should have about 40,000 in mileage. Obviously, it’s preferable to get a lower mileage vehicle, provided the car has been well cared for.

The first car on the Consumer Reports pick list is the Chevrolet Malibu. 2008 was the year Chevy redesigned the vehicle, making it easier to handle and quieter to operate.  It was also the first year that Electronic Stability Control was made standard in the cars.  The Malibu gets about 23 miles per gallon, uses regular gas and has a 2.4 liter, four cylinder engine.  It’s not the most exciting car on the road, but it’s a solid vehicle with a nice price tag.

The Hyundai Sonata is another respectable choice for young drivers, according to Consumer Reports. It has Electronic Stability Control, side curtain air bags and the 2.4 liter engine in the 2008 model gets 23 miles per gallon. The 2009 model gets slightly better fuel economy at roughly 26 miles per gallon.  Another asset is the vehicle’s ease of operation, with simple controls that don’t give young drivers a lot of distractions.

The Mazda6 is a good pick for teen drivers, according to the publication. It was redesigned in 2009 and features a sporty, fun profile that young drivers will appreciate.  It has a roomy interior and is relatively quiet on the road, while still retaining nice safety features and ease of handling. It has a four-cylinder engine and gets 24 miles per gallon, on average.

The Ford Focus is another winner in the teen car category, according to Consumer Reports. The benefits of the car include good handling and roomy interior. Drawbacks are the facts that it’s a bit noisy to drive.  It has a 2.0 liter, four cylinder engine that gets 26 miles per gallon.  Electronic Stability Control is standard in the vehicle beginning in 2010, but many 2009 models have it also.

The VW Jetta also made the grade when it came to teen-centric vehicles. In fact, Consumer Reports liked it so much; they called it, “a jewel.” Excellent handling, good crash ratings, a sharp look, smooth ride, roomy interior and good reliability add to the vehicle’s appeal when it comes to find a great car for a teen.  The 2.5 liter engine gets 24 MPG and the 2009 model features standard Electronic Stability Control.

As with buying any used vehicle, it’s important to have a thorough assessment of its condition by an experienced mechanic.  Do your homework and you should be able to find a great, safe vehicle for your teen without spending an arm and a leg.