Get a Safe Car For Your Kid
Your kid is about ready for her first car. She wants a Sebring Convertible, Audi A8, VW Beetle, Jeep Cherokee or something else. You want her to get the safest one at the best price, right? Which one is that?
You could do a lot of the work yourself, but in this case, I will trust the Wall Street Journal automobile columnist, Joseph B. White. He ran dozens of used cars through screens available online, after sifting out body-on-frame pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicle, which have high centers of gravity and higher-than-average rollover risk.
After deciding he wanted a recent model used car with head-protecting side airbags as either standard or optional equipment, he used Kelley Blue Book to sort for vehicles priced below $15,000, and then narrowed the field to cars with at least average reliability scores, as measured by Consumer Reports, and good safety ratings.
The winners: 2005 Honda Accord, 2006 Honda Civic, 2002 Volvo S60. If you don't want to go all the way through White's methodology, he makes this suggestion for finding a second-hand car with better-than-average safety technology: buy a used European luxury car. He says a five- or six-year-old luxury car costs about the same as a newer, mass-market brand. But he says European luxury cars moved more rapidly than mainstream American and Japanese brands to adopt side airbags and antilock brakes.