Need to buy reliable used car for kids-suggestions as to make/model?

<p>Oh, yeah, if you are thinking of new cars, the Honda Fit is a really nice piece. That is, if you can find a dealer who isn't pumping the price. I prefer the Mazda 3, but the Fit is a great alternative.</p>

<p>The Pontiac Vibe would be a good stealth choice. It's exactly the same as a Toyota Matrix (built on the same production line in Fremont, CA) but without the Toyota dealer's traditional reluctance to bargain.</p>

<p>With regard to insurance, you don't have to have every car that you own rated for a teenager. If you can, put the teen on the car that is the cheapest to insure. Even though my D refers to the Mazda as "her car" she drives my Prius just as much since it has the navigation system and she doesn't like driving "her baby" in bad weather. She'd park it in the living room if I'd let her.</p>

A friend once bought an older Ford Mustang for his kid. I was shocked that this father was endangering his son's life by buying him a spots car!


I was shocked when my father came home from work and suggested I head over to his place of work where a colleague of his was selling a car (he knew I was looking for one). I headed over and there was a jade green 1969 Mustang Mach I in perfect condition. It was only a year and a half old (this happened in 1971). I paid the princely sum of $2000 for it from my savings and ... I still have it over 35 years later and it looks pretty much like it did when new (I restored it)! Based on what I saw of Barrett-Jackson it's was a worthwhile investment.</p>

<p>Our boys have enjoyed a used Volvo S40. We highly recommend it for safety and reliability and it looks good too.</p>

<p>cartera45 - how do you like the Prius? I really want one though probably not on the cards this year. How is it space wise - we are tall people.</p>

<p>Swimcatsmom - I'm not tall so it's hard for me to judge but my sense is that it has great head room. I had an '03 and then traded it in for an '05 so I could get the hatchback. We had horses and I needed room for saddles and such. I am thrilled with the Prius - some complain about the mileage but I think they just don't know how to drive it. I have no problem with the pick-up either. I'm also pleasantly surprised at how it goes in snow.</p>

<p>Thanks. I will have to do a test drive one of these days. I looked at a Honda Civic hybrid but it was a bit too small.</p>

<p>I'm 5'8"; my d, who sits in the back of our Prius, is 5'9". I have plenty of legroom in the front. I'm quite tall from the hip to the head (as tall sitting as a friend who's 6'2") and have a lot of headroom. The Prius is definitely worth checking out.</p>

<p>One thing I would strongly suggest for any kid who's getting a car: Invest in an Advanced Driver Training course if there's one near you. It teaches a lot of things that driver's ed doesn't. A good one will teach kids how different tight curves feel at 30, 35, 40 mph; why tailgating matters; what anti-lock brakes feel like; how easily it is to be distracted by friends in the car, even when you're anticipating a short stop by the car in front of you; what to do with the "dead pedal" and your left foot; how to find your safest seated position. My d took it and I sat in on the classes. It taught me several things that I didn't know, and I'm a better driver for it.</p>

<p>DS is driving my old car, a beige Camry. He says it is the most boring car ever created, although he admits it has nice pickup and is very reliable. I told him it's a stealth car - like he's an undercover secret agent or something. No one ever notices a beige Camry - he's invisible and can get away with things because no one will remember his car was there! (Hope he doesn't take me up on that). He was happy to have transportation but not enthralled with the lack of coolness, UNTIL several of his friends had their cars break down. </p>

<p>DD will be 16 soon. What she wants: a pickup truck or a Jeep Wrangler. What she's getting: the opportunity to share the beige Camry, at least for a year and a half until DS is an upperclassman and allowed to have a car at college.</p>

<p>I echo the Advanced Driver Training class. DS took it shortly after getting his lisence, the one he took used old runways at a closed Naval Air station to let the kids get up to 60 mph and then slam on the brakes. They also had an excellent demo on tailgating. DD will be going shortly before she gets her lisence, it's expensive but worth it.</p>

<p>I've driven a Buick Century for the last 2 years and haven't had any problems with it yet (minor issue with a turn signal at one point, but that's it) The car's only about 3 or 4 years old at this point though, but I remember reading some sort of ranking based on how often different models of cars had to be sent in for repairs within a certain time frame, and Buicks topped the list as one of the most reliable.</p>

<p>Edit: I think this is the study I was reading: <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>We got our daughter a mini cooper with a stick. It was one of the cheapest car in her school's parking lot :), but it was the coolest. For one of her senior pictures, she had her 6 best friends squeezed into her car (parked). She drove the car mostly on country roads. I have to say she loved the car. It was bright yellow with black stripes. Everyone in town knew it was her car and would wave when she drove by, especially the gas attendants. After she left for college, husband started driving it. You should have seen the disappointing look when the gas attendants saw it was my husband and not the girl with long brown hair.</p>

<p>How do you find "advanced driver training" classes? I looked at the two main driving schools in our area, but they don't seem to have them. Do you usually have to find a special school?</p>

<p>Yes, usually it's a separate school than the normal "driver's ed" school. You can Google it. In MA, here's the one my d took:
<a href=""&gt;;/a>
If you call them, they may be able to tell you where there's a similar one in your area.</p>

<p>Calreader, you could call your insurance company, they may know where/who teaches these classes. You might get a discount on car insurance if your child takes the class.</p>

<p>Chedva, my son attended the same one. Definitely worth it.</p>

<p>Thanks, I'll try calling the insurance company and the school in MA. I did a lot of googling around, and I found a lot in other states but not northern California.</p>

<p>In N.Cal, my husband took a class at the Sears Point raceway, I believe in Marin. I believe it was called "Skip Barber" but My H took another one there under a different name.</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Lafalum, I thought so - speeding down those abandoned airstrips was quite a kick!</p>

<p>When selecting driver's ed schools, one can never be too careful. D's friend took her lessons at a school that was later found to be in violation of a lot of things (eg, former DUI convicts were among the instructors). So check and re-check.</p>

<p>The Skip Barber school has been around a long time and is respected in the car biz. Another is the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, <a href=""&gt;;/a>. Bondurant is a former (very good) racing driver who started this school in California a l-o-n-g time ago. The school is now in Arizona.</p>

<p>D1 drives my H's 1989 Volvo 240 wagon. We put a new sound system into it for Christmas. 200K + miles and running like a champ.</p>