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Introducing a New Expert Content Section: Careers!

What are the safest cars for new drivers?

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Replies to: What are the safest cars for new drivers?

  • ordinarylivesordinarylives Registered User Posts: 2,980 Senior Member
    We found this to be very true when shopping for a car for our college student (not the new driver). What we could get "gently" used was nearly as much as some of the new low-end models.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    We are a Subaru family, so any hand me down cars have been the old Subarus. When my kids bought their own cars with their own funds, they went with used Subarus.I like the all wheel drive, the brakes, the extra airbags in this line of cars.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 69,893 Senior Member
    In 2009, new car sales were quite slow. This means fewer three year old used cars for sale now.

    In terms of safe cars for new drivers, don't forget to consider outward visibility and lack of any handling surprises as criteria.
  • PattyrickPattyrick Registered User Posts: 39 Junior Member
    I'm 17, and have been driving for over a year now. No tickets, accidents, or damage done so far. I got a hand me down '04 Honda Pilot, and I can't imagine learning to drive in anything else. Excellent visibility, great safety features, and it's a pretty big suv, meaning that it forces you to focus a bit more when you park. I'd recommend an SUV, because they really are safer when things might go wrong.

    Sent from my SCH-I500 using CC
  • SlitheyToveSlitheyTove Registered User Posts: 6,348 Senior Member
    The Top Cars for Graduates: Beyond the Used Camry - WSJ.com for more food for thought.

    Pattyrick, glad to hear you're being a safe driver, but I absolutely would not recommend an SUV for a newer driver. Among many other issues, the safety requirements for a truck are nowhere near as stringent as for a passenger vehicle.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 69,944 Senior Member
    Agreed with Slithey. Some of the NEWER SUV type vehicles adhere to car safety standards, but not all.
  • woodywoody Registered User Posts: 3,861 Senior Member
    We never the let teenagers in house drive the big honkin' SUV. We read something about teens' inability to determine correct brake pressure and that was that.
    So while it's great for the passengers in the SUV, those on the receiving end may not be so lucky!
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 69,893 Senior Member
    Pattyrick wrote:
    I'd recommend an SUV, because they really are safer when things might go wrong.

    With worse handling so that you are more likely to roll the truck when trying to avoid crashing into something?
  • marbles44marbles44 Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member
    Any of the following: Volvo Wagon; Volvo Sedan; Honda element; Ugly cars that say I can't be drivne fast!
  • SikorskySikorsky Registered User Posts: 5,851 Senior Member
    I'm still driving my '04 Pilot, which I got after two minivans.

    Pattyrick, I hate for it to seem like I'm piling on, but I can't agree with your recommendation, either. Sorry.

    I like my Pilot. I make my kids drive it because I think it's impractical for them to be completely uncomfortable driving a vehicle that size. But I would never pick it for a new driver.

    The visibility out the front is very good--if you're tall enough, or you can raise the seat high enough. But the visibility out the back? Not so much. You just can't see as well out the back of your car when the back window is as high off the ground as it is in a minivan or an SUV. Things far behind you, you can see, but not things that are close behind you and near to the ground--where a child, a pet or a tricycle could be. I've been driving this car since October 2003, and I've been driving since 1980, but I'm still nervous backing up in a school parking lot. The rear view from my Pilot and my vans is unquestionably worse that the rear view from the Subaru station wagon or the sedans I had before that.

    And the center of gravity simply is higher. I had one scary event, a few years ago, in my Pilot. I swerved at highway speeds to avoid an obstacle (that I admit I should have noticed sooner), and the way my car swayed really frightened me. And I'm almost never afraid in my own car.

    Additionally, I'd never deliberately choose a car with this powerful an engine for a new driver.

    All this having been said, we probably will hand my wife's CR-V down to the kids some day. It has some of the same defects as the Pilot, IMO, but we already own it, and we know it's been properly maintained. Compared to the Pilot, it has the advantages of being somewhat more maneuverable, significantly easier to park, and appropriately powered. But I wouldn't choose a CR-V either if I were starting from scratch.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 69,944 Senior Member
    1st kid car here was an OLD...read that again...OLD Volvo sedan with a four cylinder engine. What sold me on it was the LACK of power...and it was not a cool "teen car". Next kid drove my Nissan van that DID have antilock breaks and both front and side airbags. Since she was only driving to school (4 miles) and back, I felt NO NEED to get her a new car...NONE.
  • L.A.ParentL.A.Parent Registered User Posts: 82 Junior Member
    It has been a couple of years, but when I was looking for a car for my new teenage driver, I made sure to get one with electronic stability control (ESC) as well as the anti-lock brakes, side airbags and other safety bells and whistles. At the time, we chose the Mazda 3 (which is also a great handling car) as having the best safety features and really the only one of its class to have the ESC (I think we had to get the "touring" edition for that feature). We only leased it for the two years he was finishing high school (doesn't need a car in college), but it was a great car. I would look at it again for when he graduates college and needs a car.
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Registered User Posts: 6,610 Senior Member
    Probably a small sedan or wagon/ hatchback.

    I can't second the recommendation for a hatchback enough. I've moved cross-country three times in my little '03 Focus hatchback, and it's never ceased to amaze me how much stuff I can manage to jam in there. It's also been really handy for my frequent apartment moves over summer break and during grad school. The hatchback is great since you can get a small car, but still fit a lot of those larger, weird-shaped things into it.

    How many sedans out there could you drop by a random yard sale and walk away with a really comfortable rocking chair without worrying about how it would fit into the car?
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 69,944 Senior Member
    L.A. Parent...just curious...how much did leasing for the high school student cost you? We looked into this...and the costs for leasing a car for a high school student's use were VERY high.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 69,893 Senior Member
    Re: Honda Pilot

    Note that the Pilot is an SUV version of the Odyssey minivan. The Odyssey has more room and (before the latest redesign) better handling.

    Re: rear visibility

    Unfortunately, styling trends today mean smaller rear and rear side windows, making rear visibility worse (for both backing up and changing lanes) in newer cars than it was in years past (compare a 1988 Honda Civic sedan or wagon to a 2012 Honda Civic sedan and note the size of the windows). Hence the current trend toward backup cameras to compensate for the rear visibility limitations when backing up.

    For changing lanes, it may be worth it for new (and old) drivers to consider how they adjust the side mirrors to minimize blind spots:

    How To: Adjust Your Mirrors to Avoid Blind Spots - Feature - Car and Driver
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