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Solid wheels for the new graduate

It’s that time of year. Young adults are going to be graduating from college and high school. Parents are going to want to buy them new and/or used cars in celebration of their accomplishments.

The question becomes then: What should parents know about buying a vehicle for their child (safety issues, monitoring their driving, etc.)? It depends on what graduation is being celebrated and what your goals are for the person who is going to be driving the car.

Buying a car for a college graduate is different because it is transportation upon which to build a career. Buying a car for a high school graduate usually means solid wheels for higher education. Sure, in some cases it could mean a car for a kid entering the workforce. In which case, you should follow the rules for buying a car for a college grad.

Cars for High School Graduates

Never buy a new car for a high school graduate. It’s an important lesson to have them learn car ownership on a used car. New cars are too easy to maintain nowadays. Let them learn the foibles of used car ownership.

Of course, you are going to want to buy a dependable used car. Get something with good fuel economy because most college kids are going to squeeze every ounce of fuel out of their cars.

Consult the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ratings. (Google their websites.) One top safety pick is the 2011 Toyota Corolla. It’s a great choice for a high school graduate. It doesn’t have a lot of power. It can’t seat a lot of kids and it has good safety ratings.

But don’t think it’s a bad car to drive. The 2011 Corolla is fairly comfortable to drive on long road trips.

Cars for College Graduates

The rules aren’t the same for college graduates (or high school grads entering the workforce). If you can swing it, buy them something new just because they should be focused on their careers and not their cars. Dependability is going to be very important.

It’s going to be important to combine fuel efficiency with practicality. Topping that list would be the 2016 Honda Fit. It’s amazing the myriad ways this car can be configured for storage. Plus it’s a fun little car to drive.

Larry Powell, Internet director at Honda West of Las Vegas, said the 2016 Honda Fit is one of the best models on the market for college grads as it boasts an MSRP of $15,890.

“Overall, it’s a great price point,” he said. “You get more bang for your buck and the reliability of a Honda.”

Powell added that the 2016 Honda Fit received a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It comes equipped with a multitude of safety features including a multi-angle rear view camera, daytime running lights and vehicle stability assistance, which applies extra brake pressure if the driver oversteers or understeers.

“It’s a hatchback so you can load everything into it,” Powell said. “It’s a safe and good-looking vehicle.”

Is your graduate looking for something a little bigger? Pickup trucks are another vehicle to consider because of their practicality. The 2016 Chevrolet Colorado has been getting strong reviews.

New Car Tech for Teens

OK, if you absolutely want to know where your teens are and make sure they drive safely, new car makers have you covered.

Ford’s MyKey technology encourages teenagers to wear their seat belts, keep the radio volume down, watch their speed and pay attention to the road — not their cellphones.

Chevrolet, on the 2016 Malibu, offers Teen Driver. It’s an electronic device that records all types of information about a car that’s driven with a preprogrammed key. It’s basically going to tell you everything that’s gone wrong while being operated by your teen.

Hyundai, Kia and Mercedes-Benz also have variations along the same theme. Certain aftermarket companies make apps for phones that work in conjunction with a car to block a cellphone’s use when the vehicle is in motion.

Basically, though, the best thing you can do for your teen driver? Make sure they have all the education they can and lots of practice.

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