The Decision Process: A Car for My Child

3 mins read

Editor’s Note: Our buddy, who did our Blacksmithing video last year, posted this a few years ago, but it is timeless advice.
A young one comes of an age where freedom of movement is required to conduct the day to day business of growing up, becoming educated, and taking those first faltering steps toward independence and self-sufficiency. Suddenly, the nest is a too small world for the youngster and inroads into the commerece, travel, and geography of the adult world must be made. But how best to begin?
With a well cared for, quality, safe used vehicle, of course.
Choosing one puts quite an onus upon any father not blinded by glitzy car ads, government bureaucratic doubespeak, and grass-hut treehugger propaganda (re: safety and survivability on public roads) and wanting to provide his child with reliable personal transport while balancing cost, performance, safety, and economy.
Step one: Weed out all the small cars. This is not an equivocal statement, and it is not for the simple reason that small cars will kill your kids.

Yes, they will kill and mutilate your kids.
This still leaves a lot of options; SUV, midsize car, large car, Fullsized pickup, midsized pickup, van (forget it. no shag wagons).
Next up: Mid sized and Full sized Pickups are a good option for their mass, durability, and structural integrity, but suffer from the lack of weight over the rear wheels which makes them prone to a skid on wet/slick pavement. Throw them out unless you can teach your child to reliably control a vehicle in that situation.
So that leaves us with large SUV, midsized SUV, midsized car, and full sized car.
While large SUV’s are currently inexpensive to buy, inexpensive to insure, and massive (thereby benefiting lavishly from Newton’s first law in a vehicle to vehicle collision) they are horrendously fuel inefficient which doen’t mesh well with a teenager’s budget. Mid sized SUV’s benefit to a lesser extent from Newton, but don’t really improve much upon the inefficiency problem of large SUV’s.
Midsized cars are a viable option with vanilla safety ratings and very good efficiency, but Sir Newton frowns ever so slightly upon them.
A full sized car is typically safer than a midsize with very little mileage penalty and some are even known for a specific design on safety, quality construction, careful and intelligent engineering. Sadly, these are typically made by Europeans…..
The Options:
1: Volvo
2: Mercedes
3: BMW
These are high-end brands with great reputations and each has a different primary focus while maintaining a firm grip on other aspects of quality vehicle design and manufacture. I chose the Mercedes e320.

Lead Scheduler at MOTW. Husband, Father, but most importantly, a man of God. Possesses more degrees that most people find useful.

3 Comments

  1. What euro-loving, tree hugging BS is this?! Perhaps we need a section on where to reliably keep ones reusable grocery bags and if purchase will help polar bears.

  2. Zip it, Hippy. The truth hurts, eh? The euros implement safety innovations before the US manufacturers, sometimes decades before.
    This was written in about 2006 so Volvo would probably fall off the list due to being owned by red dots, but the Mercedes and BMW recommendations still stand especially if you actually teach your child to drive in and actual skilled manner and thus able to avoid an accident where the average teen would freeze from panic or indecision. It is imperative your child be taught to control a skid and to brake while turning.
    I recommend this as a good parent’s minimum training for a teen. http://streetsurvival.org/ It’s cheap, fun, convenient and priceless instruction.
    Comparable chassis are chevy Impala, Dodge 300 (Which is the Old mercedes w210 platform), and ford fusion. They are all crap and handle like crap.

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