As if the realization that your toddler has morphed into a teen isn’t bad enough, now you have to start thinking about buying a first car. Yeah, your little baby is going out into the world alone, in a moving ball of metal, fueled by angst and freedom. You know what that smells like? Terror. Terror as you start to dismantle every horrible driver on the road. Terror as you realize your baby isn’t much of a baby anymore. And terror when you start pricing their first car. And I won’t even get into all the distractions teens have on the road these days (okay maybe I will). This is why I’m saving for a new car now, while my son is just reaching nine-years-old. But still, the question remains, should you buy a new car for a first-time driver?
Buying a New First Car for Teens – Yay or Nay
Well, you can’t change the lack of another driver’s skills on the highway, and you can’t stop your little precious from growing up, but you can at least save a few bucks by handing the old minivan over to them. I mean, that’s how our parents did it. Right? We got the paid off 7-10-year-old ride with crayon stains and stickers as a standard feature, while mom and dad got the new shiny car. So why shouldn’t history repeat itself?
I spent a few days with Kia in Baltimore at the Kia Rio National Press Conference so I could get a closer look at the 2018 Rio. In my opinion, the Kia Rio is a perfect choice for a teen’s first car. I spent a day driving the Kia Rio 5-Door EX. I asked all the questions and compared all the facts. I came to the conclusion that giving your young driver an older car is like telling Batman to drive your 2010 sedan to save Gotham. It’s just not equipped for the task.
Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Teen Your 7 – 10-Year-Old Car
First let me say, I’m no expert. I’m just a normal mom with a growing boy who thinks ahead and likes to be on top of my game. I’m also really into cars and as many of you might know, am a proud owner of a Kia Sorento. Thus, I work closely with Kia which gives me the opportunity to get an insider look into the automotive world. I read articles I normally wouldn’t have, do research that expands my common auto knowledge, and I attend press junkets where I get to speak to designers, product planners, and top auto journalists. That said, I think anyone in this age of technology who decides to do the hand-me-down thing rather than buying a new first car for their teen is taking a risk.
Hear me out.
“Ten years ago, cars with built-in Bluetooth, navigation, and parking sensors were the domain of top luxury vehicles. Now even the most affordable econo-box has these things, as options at the very least.”
Technology and safety features are advancing at a faster rate than ever before. And while the average age of a car on the highway has been reported at 11.5 years old, this does not mean a first time driver should drive a car that old. If I drive an 11-year-old car with 21 years of driving experience, muscle memory, highway reflexes and better decision making, I’m not feeling so bad about it. But when my first-time teen gets behind the wheel of an 11-year-old car with hundreds of other drivers on the road, I’m feeling a little sketched out. And did I mention, the distractions?
Now our kids have smart phones that are blowing up from a myriad of social channels, they are able to use their phone for directions and of course dig through it for music. All distractions, all fine and dandy until someone gets hurt. So what does the 2018 Kia Rio 5-Door EX have that’s making me feel better about letting my only child get behind the wheel?
Why Did the Kia Rio 5-Door EX Win Me Over?
Let’s look at the fancy press facts on safety features:
- The all-new Rio is targeting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick designation and a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- Standard safety features include six airbags, side-impact door beams, Electronic Stability Control, a four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)4
- The EX has Autonomous Emergency Braking System (AEB) (City / Urban)
But let’s talk about the technology that’s making the Kia Rio 5-door EX safe:
- Bluetooth® hands-free functionality
- Rear-view camera system
- Available only on the top-tier EX trim is a seven-inch floating touch screen interface
- UVO3 voice recognition infotainment system and smartphone integration through Android AutoTM and Apple CarPlayTM
Let me just give you that in “mom words”. With voice activated commands like “Okay Google take me to…” and “Okay Google play…” or “Okay Google what time does Starbucks close?” the Kia Rio 5-door EX is going to keep your kid operating their car hands-free.
And, I haven’t even told you about the UVO3 “Curfew Alert” yet.
As if it wasn’t glorious enough to have all this in your kid’s first car, now you can set the parameters on when they are supposed to be home and where they are supposed to be. You get notifications to your phone when they go out of bounds or are late. WOW!
Kia Rio 5-Door EX Pricing
While the pricing for the EX level has not been released yet, the starting MSRP on the Sedan is $13,990 (M) / $14,990 (A) and $14,290 (M) / $15,290 (A) on the 5-Door. Those are some numbers I can get real with!
Simply put, since spending the day in the Kia Rio 5-Door, I’ve reconsidered putting my most important cargo into a hand-me-down. I don’t want him to have dated safety features, little to no smart technology and lower gas mileage. I want him to have the safest car I can afford. And with the price points that I’m seeing here, this is making me feel pretty good about that decision.