The day that you’ve been dreading for as long as you’ve been a parent is finally here. Yes, your little baby is now old enough to drive.
For the first 16 years of your child’s life, you’ve been able to shield him or her from many of life’s dangers simply because you could control his or her mobility. But now, your kid has reached the age where he or she wants nothing else but a set of wheels.
Facing this conundrum, parents might be tempted to go with their knee-jerk reaction of locking the child in the house until the age of 25. Or they may attempt to protect their “precious little baby” by acquiring a vehicle that is only slightly smaller than the average tour bus.
Alas, neither of those approaches offers a practical long-term solution. So the best bet for worried parents is to purchase a car that is designed to keep its driver as safe from harm as technologically possible (without remortgaging your home in the process).
Here are six suggestions:
Average price: $20,000 or less
The Sonata comes with traction control for additional footing on icy or slick roads. Its brake assist system can sense emergency braking and automatically apply maximum power to the brakes in these situations.
Average price: $19,500 or less
In addition to the traditional steering wheel airbag, the Optima is equipped with two other airbag systems to shelter the driver in a crash. One actually deploys from the seat itself to offer lower-body protection, and the other drops from the ceiling and blocks the windows.
Average price: $17,000 or less (a bit more for an automatic transmission)
The Jetta features a pretty nifty crash response system. When it senses a collision, the system automatically turns on the hazard lights, unlocks the doors, and cuts off the flow of gasoline to the engine.
2004 Toyota Camry
Average price: $11,000
The thousands of people who buy Camrys every year can’t be wrong. And they aren’t: this model gets top-shelf quality safety ratings year after year.
2005 Honda CR-V
Average price: $14,500
This sport utility vehicle was ahead of its time when it introduced stability control several years ago. The system assists drivers who are losing control of the SUV (a common problem for young drivers) to start regaining it.
2006 Ford F-150
Average price: $15,500
If your kid’s new car is a truck, it should probably be the perennial best-selling pickup in the U.S. The F-150 has one of the highest front crash safety ratings of any truck in its class.
So parents: don’t think of this milestone as a loss of your ability to defend your child from the evils of real life. Think of it as an opportunity for your child to grow and become more responsible — and for you to pawn off some mundane errands on your freeloading offspring. It’s a win-win!