Sensible advice, but who wants sensible?

Ken Simmons
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Consumer Reports — we have dared speak the name here before. It’s a magazine devoted to mitigating our most base and crude materialism, using only information as its weapon.


Anyway, this week the group unleashed its heinous plot to suck the life from the teen driving experience, camouflaged in an article headlined “Five best used cars for teens.”

We’re all friends here. We know how this should go. You trot out on your 16th birthday to write the permit test, do a bit of driving school to accelerate the process, hit the road test and by the time 17 rolls around you’ve got big hours racked up on Mom’s grocery-getter.

A couple of summer jobs and an Auto Trader and you’re ready for that first car. You really want it to be a 2009 or 2010 Chevrolet Malibu?

Of course not.

Not that it is not a good car. Far from it, in fact. CR doesn’t recommend lemons. They’re big on truth, that lot. And here it is, in their own words: “Not exciting, but a good, solid car at an attractive price.”


Not exciting? That’s exactly what we don’t want for our first car. We lust for the excitement a full-blooded, American muscle car can impart. Can’t I have a Mustang, Dad? That classic Charger up the street with the bald tires?

Where’s the adventure? My dad told me stories about replacing a broken leaf spring with a fencepost, just to be able to make it home. How can we expect our kids to build those kinds of life experiences driving a Sonata? That’s the second car on the list.

Look, a Sonata is not a young person’s car. I should know, I’ve had a couple. So’s my dad. (That wasn’t the car that needed the wooden suspension assist.) “The highway ride is quite relaxed,” says Consumer Reports, “and most noises are suppressed.”

How will they know it’s running? A teen’s car needs to growl and belch, with the occasional sound of metal grinding upon itself screeching from some hidden place, maybe under the back seat. Teen drivers run on adrenalin and Red Bull. Is it even safe to lull them to premature complacency with “adequate performance” and “impressive fuel economy”?


And no SUVs or trucks, the party-poopers say. Prone to roll over, they say. Difficult to handle, they say.

There are a million cars in the naked city, and you can roll any one of them at any time. Jack up that Jeep, Junior. We’re going flinging mud.

(For the full list, visit

Ken Simmons, The Telegram’s new media editor, breathes exhaust and exhales clean, fresh air. Twitter @Ken_Simmons_NL/


Organizations: Consumer Reports

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