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Teens and older adults need help with auto choices
NEW YORK (8/18/10)--Teenagers and senior citizens share one thing when it comes to choosing a car: They don’t always make the best choices (CBSNews Aug. 4). Teenagers may want flashy, fast cars--a parent’s nightmare--but what they need are reasonably powered cars with good test results and numerous safety features. Senior citizens have different issues but, like teenagers, they’re making auto-buying decisions based on a lack of information. Many seniors aren’t aware of the new brands and models that could meet their age-specific needs. A common misunderstanding is to give a teen the biggest car possible. But big cars are more difficult to control, and teenagers are the least experienced drivers on the road. Give them a car that handles well, is agile, and has as many safety features as possible. This usually means getting your teenager a new car, rather than handing down an old one. And it means not giving them a large SUV or pickup, which have high centers of gravity, making them more prone to roll than other vehicles, or a sports car, which can tempt drivers to go fast. Sports cars also are involved in a higher rate of accidents than other cars. Look for a reasonably sized sedan that has safety features such as electronic stability control and curtain air bags, good crash-test results, not too much power, and a strong structure. When researching safety features, be aware that electronic stability control has different names from different manufacturers. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports named 11 models safe for young people, based on test results as well as government and insurance-industry crash-test results. Among the top picks:
* Three small sedans: Hyundai Elantra SE (2008 or later), Mazda3 (2007 or later), Scion xB (2008 or later) * Three midsized sedans: Acura TSX (2004 or later), Honda Accord (2008 or later), Kia Optima (2007 or later) * Two small SUVs: Honda CR-V (2005 or later), Nissan Rogue (2008 or later)
Mature drivers have different needs than teenagers. For example, they often need more time to process events and to react. Complicated vehicle controls can cause confusion, waste precious time, and increase the chances of an accident. Older drivers need easy in-and-out access, good visibility in all directions, a comfortable driver’s seat, and easy-to-read and understand controls. Consumer Reports recommends five new models that perform well, are reliable, and have the kinds of features suitable to the needs of an aging population. They are:
* Minivan: Honda Odyssey * Small SUV: Subaru Forester * Upscale sedan: Hyundai Azera * Family sedan: Honda Accord * Microvan: Kia Rondo
The 2010 Honda Accord is the only vehicle to make both lists. For teenagers, it has enough performance to make them happy, has standard stability control, handles easily, and is crashworthy. These features are important for older drivers as well, even if for different reasons. In addition, seniors appreciate the ease of getting in and out of the wide seats; the simple, well-marked controls; the supportive seats; and excellent driving position with impressive visibility. Regardless of age, everyone needs a car with good safety features and crashworthiness.
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