It’s a rite of passage parents secretly dread — handing their teen keys to her very own car. Sure, you’re psyched not to be his or her chauffeur for much longer, but safety is paramount and roads aren’t always safe. To help you breathe easier — and avoid common car buying blunders — we rung up Jack Nerad, market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, to get his best tips for teen car shopping.
No matter if you decide on a car that costs $15,000 or $45,000, you’ll want to check your credit before you start shopping around for an auto loan. A mistake on your credit report could lower your credit score and cost you thousands over the life of your loan.
Here are some tips on what parents should look for as well the safest cars for teens.
Safety Features for Teens
Lane departure warning and blind spot warning, which use cameras or radar technology to watch the area around the vehicle and spot nearby cars, are two features to ask for by name, Nerad said. Backup cameras have become standard equipment on SUVs, so many drivers have come to depend on them.
Another feature to look for, Nerad said, is emergency braking, which will stop the car faster than the driver could in order to avoid an accident, or at least mitigate it.
The Connected Car
Chevrolet Tahoe SUV
“Beyond its safety features and sheer size, it’s comfort,” Nerad said of Chevy’s 2016 Tahoe. “It’s like a limousine, quiet and comfortable.” Safety features like rear park assist and rear cross-traffic alert ensure you’ll rest easy, while Apple CarPlay and OnStar service, which offers automatic crash response and turn-by-turn navigation, keep your teen on the map. Prices start around $45,500.
Honda Odyssey Minivan
Don’t let the affordable price tag fool you, the latest Sentra is as teen-friendly as it is tasteful. Only a few inches shorter than some mid-size sedans, the Sentra offers plenty of legroom and an upscale ambiance despite its lack of a turbocharged engine. Teens won’t feel inspired to drive it, but the infotainment system, which lets you program your navigation system from a laptop and stream Pandora radio, somewhat makes up for it. Prices start around $16,800, but check local dealers for specifics.