Monday, October 04, 2010

The Decision Process: A Car for My Child

A young one comes of an age where freedom of movement is required to conduct the day to day business of growing up, becoming educated, and taking those first faltering steps toward independence and self-sufficiency. Suddenly, the nest is a too small world for the youngster and inroads into the commerece, travel, and geography of the adult world must be made. But how best to begin?

With a well cared for, quality, safe used vehicle, of course.

Choosing one puts quite an onus upon any father not blinded by glitzy car ads, government bureaucratic doubespeak, and grass-hut treehugger propaganda (re: safety and survivability on public roads) and wanting to provide his child with reliable personal transport while balancing cost, performance, safety, and economy.

Step one: Weed out all the small cars. This is not an equivocal statement, and it is not for the simple reason that small cars will kill your kids. See below:

Yes, they will kill and mutilate your kids.

This still leaves a lot of options; SUV, midsize car, large car, Fullsized pickup, midsized pickup, van (forget it. no shag wagons).

Next up: Mid sized and Full sized Pickups are a good option for their mass, durability, and structural integrity, but suffer from the lack of weight over the rear wheels which makes them prone to a skid on wet/slick pavement. Throw them out unless you can teach your child to reliably control a vehicle in that situation.

So that leaves us with large SUV, midsized SUV, midsized car, and full sized car.

While large SUV's are currently inexpensive to buy, inexpensive to insure, and massive (thereby benefiting lavishly from Newton's first law in a vehicle to vehicle collision) they are horrendously fuel inefficient which doen't mesh well with a teenager's budget. Mid sized SUV's benefit to a lesser extent from Newton, but don't really improve much upon the inefficiency problem of large SUV's.

Midsized cars are a viable option with vanilla safety ratings and very good efficiency, but Sir Newton frowns ever so slightly upon them.

A full sized car is typically safer than a midsize with very little mileage penalty and some are even known for a specific design on safety, quality construction, careful and intelligent engineering. Sadly, these are typically made by Europeans.....

The Options:
1: Volvo
2: Mercedes
3: BMW

These are high-end brands with great reputations and each has a different primary focus while maintaining a firm grip on other aspects of quality vehicle design and manufacture. I chose the Mercedes e320.

Rationale to follow.