Did you, or someone in your household just successfully pass the driver’s exam? Congratulations, and listen in — this one’s for you!
Gaining the ability to legally operate an automobile on public roads is all-important rite of passage in our culture, and for good reason. With 2.7 million miles of paved infrastructure in the United States, driving is a great way to get around. There is just no substitute for the feeling of freedom, independence and thrill from being able to drive yourself, and your friends, to anywhere you want to go!
Of course, adding a new driver is not all fun and excitement. There are significant concerns over the ability of new drivers to safely and responsibly operate vehicles absent significant driving experience, leading to worrying, stress, and uncomfortable situations for both parents and new drivers.
The cost of new drivers doesn’t help either. Insurance companies see new drivers as demolition derby contestants who are pretty much guaranteed to wreck, maim and destroy whatever they are driving, and everything else in the vicinity. Overblown insurance rates for rookie drivers reflect that understanding.
To ease the pain, we came up with a list of five vehicles that are slow, safe, reliable and relatively inexpensive to insure. Sorry, kids — Camaros and Mustangs are not on the list.
Honda Accord (4 door, 4-cylinder)
There is really no wrong way to go about purchasing a Honda Accord for a new driver. Over the past 20 years, the Accord has been a staple of reliability, simplicity, safety and user-friendliness. It has also been one of the farthest things from a sports car, if you avoid the 2-door V6. Stick with a 4-door, 4-cylinder option, and you will get years of unquestionable service at a low cost, regardless of whether you are buying new or pre-owned.
Subaru Legacy (4-cylinder)
Another staple of bulletproof engineering, the Subaru Legacy is a workhorse that has been a favorite of no-nonsense car owners for quite some time. Added plus if you live in a colder climate: standard all-wheel drive. Avoid wandering off to look at anything with labels WRX or STi while at the Subaru dealer — those are super-fast, unforgiving sports cars. Maybe next time!
The Volkswagen Jetta is a cool car that your new driver will love. Don’t tell them this, but it is also fairly safe, gets great gas mileage, and is relatively inexpensive to insure. Finding a good TDi (Turbo Diesel) Jetta will offer hybrid-like fuel economy, which is always a great feature for that after-school-job income.
The auto-enthusiast community is divided on the styling of the discontinued Scion xB: Some like it’s quirkiness, while others think it looks like a toppled-over refrigerator. Overlooking the aesthetics, it is a versatile car built with youth in mind that offers good fuel economy, loads of space and safety standards of its parent company, Toyota.
A pre-owned Ford Taurus is one of the least-expensive automobiles to insure for a new driver. It is big, not particularly powerful, and cheap. It does lose out in fuel economy to the rest of the list due to its size. Also, don’t expect to win any favors with your new driver — the bulky Taurus is not exactly the pinnacle of youthful appeal.