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NEW WAYS TO LOOK AT THE NEW CAR BUYING DECISION | Credit Union 01/05/2015

Beginning drivers

Obviously, some of the most important factors for new (usually young) drivers is the safety of the new car. Ironically, many of these young drivers will be interested in technology features, some of the very elements that lead to the dreaded “distracted driving.” Parents or grandparents who are either buying a car for a teen or are guiding that process need to focus on crash test ratings and the nature of the technology features to be sure that their potential distraction level is minimal. For this group, usually operating on a limited budget, a relatively gas mileage rating is important, too.

Beginning driver options

In searching for options that fit these criteria, experts have recommended the Kia Soul with quirky design likely to have youthful appeal, good technology features, and attractive pricing starting at $15,100. Mileage ratings are 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in city driving and 30 on the highway. The Soul (yes the car that utilizes hip-hop hamsters in its advertising) gets an 81.27 (out of a possible 100) rating from Total Car Score, one of the highest in the economy class. The Honda Fit gets a slightly higher rating at 81.58. A bit more mainstream the Fit gets excellent mileage of 337 city, 41 highway and has handy fold-down rear seats allowing extraordinary cargo space for a vehicle this size. The price tag is a bit higher on the Fit, starting at $15,650.

Young workers

Call them Millennials or Gen Y,they are now the largest demographic cohort, so it’s no surprise that manufacturers have produced more models aimed at their needs. Buyers at this stage will have many of the same design and technology interests of the beginning stage drivers. This group will be looking for style, convenience, comfort and attractive tech options. And there are many economical compact car choices to meet their stage.

Young worker options

The Volkswagen GTI is a favorite. Its 81.51 Total Car Score is among the highest in this category. Featuring a 2.0 liter turbocharged engine, its performance is sporty with tight handling. The GTI starts at $24,395, is rated for 25 mpg in city driving, 34 on the highway. No matter what your stage of life, your new car decision will be one you have to live with for a few years. So, of course, be sure to test drive. And check out some of the many respected review sources including Total Car Score, J.D. Power and Consumer Reports.

Happy driving and stay tuned for our next post where we’ll discuss options for families, empty-nesters and high-mileage drivers.