Cars for rookie drivers

Choosing a new car for your teenager need not be a nerve-wracking experience. The key is to ignore sales pitches and focus on the features a vehicle for a new driver should have. Forget horsepower and speed, no matter how much your son or daughter craves a sports car. Think practicality instead. These are the criteria you should keep in mind:

  1. Safety – This matters more than anything. You love your child, so naturally you want him or her to be safe, no matter what’s waiting down the road.
  2. Reliability – Being stuck is no fun for anybody. It’s even worse if it’s your child stranded in some strange town or out in the middle of nowhere.
  3. Affordability – You’re probably not made of money, so you’ll want an automobile that won’t have your choosing between making the payments and buying groceries.
  4. Fuel economy – Young people aren’t known for having an abundance of funds. So you’ll want them to have a vehicle that goes a long way on a tank of gas.

With that in mind, here are three cars that rank high in all four categories. Any of them would make an excellent choice for your young person’s first ride.

2012 Nissan Versa S – For a vehicle starting at under $11,000.00, the Versa has a lot going for it. This entry-level car ranks high in safety, with strong results in front, side, rear and roof impact tests, according to Edmunds. Plus, the Versa has demonstrated excellent reliability over time. And, with an mpg rating of up to 30/38, your son or daughter will still have a little money left over after filling the tank. The interior is basic economy car fare with cloth seats and plastic interior, but what the Versa lacks in sizzle, it more than makes up for with good, solid value.

2012 Nissan Versa 1.6 SL Sedan

Photo of 2012 Nissan Versa at Nissan in Glendale AZ. Used with permission.

2014 Ford Fiesta S – Ford’s quality has been stellar over the last several years, and the Fiesta is no exception to this rule. The Fiesta sedan starts at $14,600 MSRP and offers a 27/38 mpg rating. Additional inducements consist of a standard seven airbags, including ones designed to cushion passengers in the rear seat. There’s even a special airbag that offers extra protection to the driver’s knees, should he or she be shoved forward. Combine these factors with exceptional reliability ratings and you’ve got an excellent value in a first car.

North American International Auto Show

Photo of 2014 Ford Fiesta by F.D. Richards via Flickr

2013 Honda Fit – You can drive off in a new Fit for around $15,500. In return for your investment, you get an extremely reliable vehicle with mpg ratings of between 28-35 mpg highway, depending on the transmission. The Fit safeguards its passengers with front and side airbags, emergency braking assist, and special head restraints for the driver and front passenger. The Fit is especially roomy for a car in its class, with lots of headroom for taller teens. It also has a spacious backseat, plenty of cargo room and outstanding visibility for the driver. Given Honda’s long history of building vehicles that run for decades, the Fit is a “can’t miss” choice for a starter car.

File:Honda Fit EV WAS 2012 0779.JPG

Photo of 2013 Honda Fit EV by mariordo59 via Flickr

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