That moment has arrived when your teenager’s learner’s permit is now a full-fledged driver’s license. In many households, this is a time of intense discussion, if not outright war over whether or not to get the teenager a car.

Sedan, SUV or convertible; hybrid, electric, gas or diesel; front wheel drive or all-wheel, are some of the questions that arise. Adding to this stress are the completely different expectations of kids and parents. As parents and the actual owners of the vehicle, you must do your due diligence and get the best car for your child.

Things Parents Should Check

Make sure that you do all your research about the model of the car, and insure that it has all the necessary safety features such as airbags, working seatbelts etc. Parents should always check government crash-testing results for vehicles under consideration to make sure that they meet all the required safety standards.

It is also very important (critical in fact) to get the car thoroughly checked out by a reputable certified mechanic. Besides the engine and the transmission, the parts that need special attention are the brakes, tires, headlights, and taillights. You might want to replace the windshield wipers, U-joints, and mufflers, especially if the car is very old.

2007 Nissan Sentra

The Nissan Sentra four-door compact has plenty of cargo room and gives an economical 24 city and 31 highway miles to the gallon. For a compact car, there is plenty of room for your taller teenager. The average price for this vehicle in good condition is around $7,900. While this car is not flashy and normally comes with just an AM/FM/single CD stereo installed, it is for the most part a safe bet for a first car.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with its crash testing has given the 2007 Sentra a five-star rating for passenger, driver, and side impact front crashes. For side impact rear crashes and rollovers, it was awarded a four-star rating. Additional safety considerations are its front and rear head airbags, dual front side-mounted airbags, and head restraint whiplash protection system for both the driver and passenger.

2007 Ford F-150

If ‘bigger is better’ is your policy, then this beefy pickup truck is the way to go if you do not mind paying more for gas. This truck will give you an estimated mpg of 14 in the city and 19 on the highway. You should expect to pay at least $8,410 for a 2007 Ford F-150 in good condition. Unless the stereo has been upgraded, you can expect only an AM/FM stereo to be installed.

The Ford F-150 has a five-star rating from the NHTSA for both driver and passenger front crashes and four stars for rollovers. The Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS); however, has given it a marginal rating for rear crash protection and head restraint so this is something to take into consideration.

2007 Kia Sedona

While it is far from a glamorous ride, this minivan with its immense interiors is a comfortable and safe ride. This could be a great choice if your teen is involved in sports or other extracurricular activities that require their equipment to be lugged around. You should expect to pay at least $9,000 for a Kia Sedona in good condition.

Another selling feature coax your teen with may be its eight-speaker sound system that comes with its factory-installed AM/FM CD player stereo. For you however, you can feel justified in purchasing this vehicle because of its safety ratings. The NHTSA has given the Sedona five-star ratings for passenger and driver front crashes and for both front and rear side impact crashes. The IIHAS has also given its highest rating for crashes.

2006 Volkswagen Golf TDI

With its turbo diesel engine, the Volkswagen Golf TDI offers great fuel economy with an estimated mpg of 31 for city and 40 for highway driving. Your teen may not scoff at this vehicle once they find the factory-installed Monsoon eight-speaker sound system with the AM/FM CD player/CD-controller stereo. You can expect to pay around $11,000 for this car.

As for safety, the Golf TDI comes with a six-airbag safety system that includes front and rear head airbags and dual front side-mounted airbags to better protect your teen in the event of a crash. The NHTSA has given this car a five-star rating for both driver and passenger front crashes and a four-star rating for both front and rear side impact crashes.

Vehicles to Avoid Buying for Kids

While newer SUVs and crossover vehicles with electronic stability control have found better ratings at the IIHS, they are best avoided since SUVs can seat a lot of people, which means that your teen might get distracted easily while driving.

It is highly advisable to deny your child’s demands for any sports cars, convertibles, and muscle cars because they tempt young drivers to speed and engage in rash driving behaviors such as drag racing.

Most parents struggle with the idea of buying their children a used car but financial considerations usually result in the purchase of a used car. This is not necessarily a bad thing, even though your child might disagree.