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Nevermind the Old

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Advice has changed on what cars to buy for teens

by Chris O’Shea

Shopping for a car for your high school grad? You’re probably thinking of getting something old, gigantic and ugly. Well, as the New York Times points out, that strategy might not be the best anymore.

The main reason you might not want to buy an old “junker” for your kid is that advancements in tech have made newer cars much safer. There are all kinds of new features — like collision and lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring — that make newer cars safer than ever before. To start, check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s list of recommended cars for teenagers. From there, consider cars from 2012 on, as that was the year the government required every new vehicle to come equipped with electronic stability control. This tech works in connection with the brakes and steering wheel to reduce swerving and skids.

You’re going to have to do plenty of research too, because many car companies label their safety tech in different ways. While Toyota offers something called a “Safety Sense” package on many of its cars, Subaru offers an “EyeSight driver-assist” deal. It all comes down to digging into the details to see exactly what safety tech those offers come with.

The catch to buying a car with great safety tech is that those features can sometimes up the cost. A general rule of thumb? Buy as much safety as you can afford. If you’re looking at a new car, you might want to consider leasing, as it can reduce your monthly payments. The bottom line is don’t follow the old adage that an ancient car is the best car. The reality is the safest car is the best car.