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10/1/18 7:58 a.m.

Probably not something the hive would go with, but my oldest and youngest daughters (and the wife) have the small Jeep SUVs (2016 Compass/30k/$12,500; 2009 Compass/80k/$4100 and a 2013 Patriot $5600/113K) which they all love.  The middle daughter has an automatic NB Miata ($4000), and the son has a 2003 Focus ZX3 manual he picked up for $2200 four years ago that willl not die lol.

TL;DR - my girls love the small Jeep SUVs.

z31maniac MegaDork
10/1/18 8:45 a.m.

Not reading any replies, here's the advice.

Buy the cheapest, decent Japanese car you can find. Statistics show it will be in an accident or thoroughly trashed before college.


$8k is about double of the max I'd consider spending.

spitfirebill MegaDork
10/1/18 8:49 a.m.

In reply to z31maniac.

That is what I say.  Buy something sacrificial for the first year.     

pirate Reader
10/1/18 9:00 a.m.

As a father and grandfather something small enough it can not be loaded up with a horde of girlfriends and something big enough so it has some mass in case of an accident. I don’t think small and cute is a good idea for a young and new driver. There was another thread about this recently and it revolved around Ford Escapes which I think is a good choice. Our son has two Escapes (actually one is a Mazda Tribute) and they have done well between three grandchildren so far. 

pirate Reader
10/1/18 9:11 a.m.

Also meant to say for as many young drivers that like small and cute there are just as many who like big and rugged think large four wheel drive pickups. They are all on the road together with teenage distractions and the idea nothing could ever happen to them. 

sergio Reader
10/1/18 10:08 a.m.

Girls seem to like Beetles. But if it has over 60k it’s gonna be a maintenance nightmare. My vote is a Civic, Corolla, Camry, or Accord. Or a RAV4, CRV.  They go 100k with just regular maintenance. 

jharry3 Reader
10/1/18 10:29 a.m.

I bought my daughter a used Subaru Impreza when she was 16.   I was on the fence between a Mazda 3 and the Impreza. 

  I went with the Impreza because I had a WRX at the time so Subaru.    In hindsight I may have gone with the Mazda 3.  Just a nicer car for similar money.   We ended up losing the Subaru in the great Houston Flood of 2017 so it was totaled.   I found her a 2016 Nissan Altima, a much nicer car, for the same as I paid for the Subaru, $13,000.  I got that one because a friend who ran a dealership in another state had it for sale and was giving flood victims a big discount, otherwise I would have looked for other options.

No way I would put her in a Fiat 500 - too small.  I want some crash protection for her.   No to the Prius, when the battery goes its lots of money, a "green" guy I know just got rid of his Prius because the battery replacement was going to be over $3500. 

Duke MegaDork
10/1/18 10:45 a.m.

Look into your state's graduated licensing laws.  She may be legally prohibited from having more than 1 passenger under 21 years old (other than immediate family) for the first year of solo driving.  That's how it works around here.

914Driver MegaDork
10/1/18 10:45 a.m.

Driving a slightly lowered Jetta, I notice the number of SUVs in the world.  80 mph from NYC to Albany and I can't see a damn thing sitting in a bowl of giants.

I would go with a CRV; tallish for visibility, Honda reliable, and Dad can remove the back seat!

You never suggested a budget, but they run the gambit.

fastasleep Reader
10/1/18 7:35 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

I live down the street from you, I think?


fastasleep Reader
10/1/18 7:37 p.m.

Duke, yes.  We are on that.

914Driver, I like the CRV's.  I will definately look.

Thanks for all of the input.  I will look at everything mentioned.  I only started looking recently, so I have plenty to consider.  Thanks again!

Duke MegaDork
10/1/18 8:44 p.m.
fastasleep said:

In reply to Duke :

I live down the street from you, I think?


Cool!  We should meet up sometime. Flynlow is local , too, but I haven’t noticed him posting here lately. He’s got a really cool Cappucino!

I’m in Newark, near the University. Where are you located?  If you’re free tomorrow evening, our local car club has a meeting at Skipjack’s on Paper Mill Road. Come on out and introduce yourself!

Mndsm MegaDork
10/1/18 9:11 p.m.
Klayfish said:

You're going to have to decide which way you want to go.  If you buy a car that has a back seat, they're going to find a way to fit back there.  Period.  iQ, MINI, Fiat, etc...  As small as the back seats are, they have them and teens are limber.  They'll find a way back there.  Would you really feel good having teens riding in the back seat of an iQ?  I'd be too worried what would happen if it got rear ended by the high school boy in his brodozer trying to play games with them. 

On the other hand, anything that's a true two seater is going to be really small, such as Miata.  You'll have to decide if that's what you want. 

My recommendation is something like the Soul, Elantra, Civic, Corolla, Versa, Sentra, Fit, etc...  Still a small car, but not clown car small.  Reliable, efficient, slow.  Don't go SUV...just don't. 

True story. I have it on good authority that a back seat of a 2g dsm is physically possible, albeit not wise. 

G_Body_Man UltraDork
10/2/18 10:40 a.m.

First gen Scion xB! Small, cheap to run, reliable yet sacrificial and if she thinks the Soul is cute she might love the xB.

STM317 SuperDork
10/2/18 1:25 p.m.

I tend to agree with those suggesting the cheap beater approach until she gets some more miles under her belt. Let her get her learning out of the way in something disposable and then gift her something nicer as a graduation present if she's proven herself.


If you're bound and determined to get her something nicer right off the bat, your criteria screams NC Miata to me: just 2 seats, cute, decent fuel economy, manual available (to reduce distracted driving), new enough to be safe/reliable.

NOHOME UltimaDork
10/2/18 4:48 p.m.

Apparently, my kid doesn't want to drive.... After a conversation with her about being tired of driving her everywhere, I think she is going to extend a little effort to get her permit.


I am going to suggest that you leave her alone. And by that I also mean stop driving her everywhere.

I also failed at parenting,  and raised a daughter that has zero interest in driving. Using methods that elude me, she seems to have developed a way to get to wherever she needs to be without involving me or my wallet.


I still wish that she would get a driver's license if only as a rite of passage into adulthood, In the meantime, I use the money that I was going to use to buy her a car and build projects.



einy HalfDork
10/2/18 6:27 p.m.

I am 6 months away from being in this same boat.  At this point, I am thinking first generation Leaf, as they are cheap, very low maintenance, limited by nature how far she can go in a day, and I sort of want one in the garage for some strange reason just to putz around with.

or a bus pass.  I like that idea also.

Wally MegaDork
10/2/18 11:07 p.m.

The rear seat on our Fiat 500 was pretty much for decoration. Anyone larger than my cocker spaniel complained about legroom. In 130,000 miles it just needed routine maintenance, struts and rear wheel bearings.  It was running great until the accident and it held up pretty well considering it was hurled into the back of a Suburban. I believe my wife only got hurt because she had a cheap aftermarket seatbelt extension to move the belt lower and it didn’t hold her in place well if at all.

Aspen Reader
10/3/18 10:51 a.m.
jharry3 said:

No to the Prius, when the battery goes its lots of money, a "green" guy I know just got rid of his Prius because the battery replacement was going to be over $3500. 


Prius battery

No need to pay that much for a battery when you can get one for 1500 with a 5 yr warranty.  Most of the time you can use a bit of software to diagnose a bad cell or two and replace them for way less money.  Used Prius' are good value and tremendously unexciting.  Great for keep a teen out of trouble.

scardeal SuperDork
10/3/18 11:03 a.m.

My first thought was a Sherman tank.  But then she'll get used to running over things.

I guess I'm no help.

8valve Reader
10/3/18 11:49 a.m.

No volvo 240 posts?  I am disapooint.  I have a 15 yr old also so I've been thinking on this.  These are my thoughts.. leaning towards conceding the room and going large slow beater.  Anything under 8 seconds to 60 seems like a bad idea.  I got in enough trouble with less power. 

Heavy and small is an unusual combo. If you're set on that, hybrids and EV's do it to some extent. Fiat 500 2500lbs vs 500e 3000lbs for one.  Also a 5 star sub compact crash score may do worse in real life than a 3 star mid size, I think the tests are relative to size.  Somebody correct me if I'm wrong here.  The case for midsize plus is strong imo.

This is a bizarro world car search.. heavy, slow, bland, impractical is what we want.

Duke MegaDork
10/3/18 12:29 p.m.

The Volvo 240 is nice and solid... but the very newest one is 25 years old at this point.  The chassis may have been built like a tank, but the state of the art in vehicle safety has moved on just a little bit since then.  And that's assuming it's not rusted out in some critical location.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
10/3/18 1:10 p.m.

I'm wondering if a car is the best idea for a present...it sounds like it may mean more to you than it would to her.

KyAllroad (Jeremy)
KyAllroad (Jeremy) PowerDork
10/3/18 2:27 p.m.

For teenaged girls (I have 3) I'd strongly recommend they have a chat with their Dr about something to prevent the worst STD (children of their own).  The type of car they are in ABSOLUTELY will not even slow down teenaged hormones and limberness.

That out of the way, the best car for any teenager is something durable and cheap.  Think: ten year old Ford Taurus.  Rental fleet sort of stuff, designed for hard use and minimal mechanical sympathy.

Right now our new driver is rocking the awesome $150 Suzuki Forenza I bought earlier this year and replaced the HG in.  Total investment to date is $500 so if (when) she bends it, we won't really care.  Insurance for teens is pretty obscene so going with liability only is helpful.

Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
10/3/18 2:40 p.m.

I'm the guy who started the last thread on this.  I'm half looking for either a 08-10 Escape or an 06ish Escape hybrid and unless something falls in my lap I'll be getting serious by the end of the month.  I'd forget worrying about the size, lack thereof or absence of a back seat.  First, most states have graduated licenses so kids cant go around with half a dozen friends in the car.  Secondly, unlike some people I can vividly remember what I was doing int he early 80's and while I wont kiss and tell I can tell you there is more than enough space in a Hillman Imp to get up to ... well, I'm stopping here.

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