2011 Smart FortwoEnlarge Photo
Think you know what the worst cars for teens are? If you read part one of this series, you’ve got a pretty good idea. If not, you can always check it out. Here we continue with five more factors that parents should take into consideration when buying or handing down a vehicle for their teen to drive – or before allowing their son or daughter to buy it using their own money.
Be sure the intended vehicle for your teen isn’t any of the following:
Those teeny, tiny microcars may be cute and great on gas mileage, but they’re anything but the best choice for teen wheels. For one thing, they’re just too small to provide much in the way of safety – regardless of the number of airbags included as standard equipment. Consider the result of a microcar involved in a collision with a pickup truck, SUV, or even mid-size sedan. Not good – for the occupants of the microcar. If this is your teen, would you want to have him or her driving around in a car that’s little more than a roller skate with an engine?
This means very small cars should be out of the question unless, of course, you all live in a town where most people bicycle to and from work, home, and school, or only electric vehicles and hybrids are allowed. And we’re not convinced there’s any such place in America (yet).
2010 HUMMER H3Enlarge Photo
Being able to safely maneuver a vehicle is very important for all drivers, especially teens with limited experience behind the wheel. The old joke about the soccer mom who’s just learning how to drive a big SUV isn’t so funny. Neither is it funny watching a teen try to navigate a too-big vehicle in driveways, parking spots, or safely drive on two-lane roads or in traffic.
When the vehicle in question is a pickup truck or SUV, it may also be a four-wheel drive vehicle. That brings up another risky area for inexperienced drivers – going off-road. With a too-big vehicle, not only is there a greater chance of rollover, but slides, crashes into rocks or trees, and accidental injury are very possible.
So, although a teen may think a big HUMMER is the ultimate cool vehicle, don’t buy it – literally.
2011 Chevrolet Corvette Grand SportEnlarge Photo
Too powerful (or too underpowered)
Think about it. If a car has a big, powerful V-8 engine and generates 400+ horsepower, no matter how much your teen begs and tries to coax you into buying or allowing him or her to drive the car, it’s too powerful for your young and inexperienced driver. That means no big V-8-powered Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro or Corvette. There’s just no justification for buying such a high-powered vehicle for a teenager to drive. The temptation to exceed posted speed limits, to take unnecessary risks, or to be pressured by peers into doing something foolish is just too great. Not only that, but cars with a lot of horsepower will jack up auto insurance rates to be cost-prohibitive.
On the other hand, you don’t want your teen driving a car that can’t get up a slight incline without the foot to the floor on the accelerator. Such underpowered vehicles may be fuel-efficient, but they won’t allow enough acceleration to get out of harm’s way should the need arise.
1997 Ford F-150Enlarge Photo
On the most-stolen list
It also makes sense to do a check of the vehicles that are among the most stolen in the country before you pick out a car for your teen to drive. The best source for this information is the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), which annually releases a report of the most stolen vehicles in America. On their website, the most current data is for vehicles stolen in 2009.