Here’s the situation: your “little baby” is about to (or already has) turned 16. He or she is dreaming of the endless possibilities which come with a driver’s license. Your teen may also start dropping extremely subtle hints about wanting a vehicle of his or her own. What’s a parent to do?
Now you have two options. You can either refuse your kid’s request and force him or her to borrow the vehicle(s) that you already own. Then you’re setting yourself up for years of begging for car keys, readjusting seat positions and radio stations, and discovering a plethora of items and substances in your vehicle’s interior.
Or, you can acquire a vehicle and car insurance specifically for your new driver. Then you can liberate yourself from all of the abovementioned headaches and also control the situation a little better by picking out a car that is better suited for your teen.
If you select the second option, here are six features that your teenager’s car should have.
- Appropriate size. You want a car that is sturdy enough to hold its own in a collision, but you don’t want to put your teen in a mammoth-sized vehicle which won’t allow him or her to steer nimbly out of trouble. That’s why a mid-size sedan is an excellent choice for a newbie driver.
- Stellar crash test ratings. Before purchasing a vehicle, do some Internet research to see how it fared in federal crash tests. If the car in question is pre-owned, make sure to note its model year — vehicles of similar make and model may perform differently in these tests from year to year.
- Four-cylinder engine. Rookie drivers don’t need more horsepower than that. Bigger and more powerful engines are likely to create more problems for your teen than they solve.
- Front-wheel drive. Sure, rear-wheel drive can supply additional traction. But for a novice driver, it can also provide a false sense of security and promote faster driving. Front-wheel drive is perfectly adequate for most road conditions, and in instances where streets are hazardous, teens probably shouldn’t be driving anyway.
- Simple controls. You’ve sat in enough driver’s seats to know that some vehicles are more “user-friendly” than others. Keeping cabin controls simple for your teenager can help reduce the odds of him or her becoming distracted while driving.
- Safety features. Most late-model cars have airbags, but you should also look for vehicles which have anti-lock brakes as well, because new drivers tend to jam the brake pedal instead of pumping it. If possible, find a car with electronic stability control, which brakes each individual wheel if it senses the car is swerving or out of control.
Getting teenagers age-appropriate cars will help them improve their driving skills and encourage responsible road habits. Think of it this way: when your child was in diapers and learning to build or create things, you didn’t buy him or her a Revell P-51D Mustang 1:48 scale model airplane kit. So why buy your teen a complex vehicle designed for advanced drivers now?