Teen Driving

Texas Mercedes-Benz dealership helps teens learn to navigate risky driving situations

As part of their owner and community outreach program, Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land recently held a teen driving school.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land

The entire car shuddered as the Mercedes-Benz skidded over the large puddle. My head hit the roof of the car, nearly breaking my sunglasses (and yes, I was wearing my seatbelt). My phone went flying. The high-end camera of the journalist sitting next to me flew out of his hands and landed at my feet. Thankfully this didn't happen on the open road, but in a controlled environment created for teen drivers to learn, among other skills, how to regain control of a car when it hydroplanes.

After pulling the car to a stop, driver Winnie Chang, a 17-year-old senior at Clements High School, turned to Kory Enders, an Indy Pro 2000 driver, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, for his advice on how to improve the next time she drove around the skid pad. Meanwhile, the other passengers and I gathered our belongings off the floor of the backseat.

2020 Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land Teen Driving Winnie Chang, 17, learns how to pilot a car through a skid.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land

Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land (MBSL) has been offering a quarterly Teen Driving Safety School at the Motor Speedway Resort (MSR) Houston for the teen children of its customers for about four years now. Prior to December 2019, MBSL had trained about 275 teen drivers. That month, for the first time, MBSL held an additional event for twenty Clements High School students.

Like the others, this event was co-sponsored by MBSL and Enders. Enders' father, Kenneth, owns MBSL, for which Enders is a brand ambassador. Influenced by his father, who wanted to be a professional racecar driver himself, Enders has been part of the racing world since childhood. Enders began club go karting at age six. While a student at Clements High School in Sugar Land, Enders began driving cars at MSR Houston.

Although he now travels the world racing, Enders has not forgotten his roots. Enders graduated from Clements in 2016 and has been working for several years to coordinate this event with the high school, which has about 2,500 students from 9th-12th grade. Clements High School students were invited to apply for the opportunity to participate in the Teen Driving Safety School. Fifty students applied and about 20 were randomly selected to attend at no cost.

Seeing some teens' incorrect and even illegal driving habits compelled Enders to give back to the community by helping teens learn to drive correctly. Enders wants "to give kids a toolbox." His two pieces of advice to teen drivers? "Don't text and drive," and "Understanding the core fundamentals of how a car functions and drives could save your life one day."

After a morning of classroom instruction, the students headed outside to test their skills. The high schoolers beelined to the group of waiting cars hopping into either the driver or passenger seat. To get the full experience, I knew I needed to be a passenger, yet was a bit hesitant to ride in a car with a teen driver who may have only recently gotten their license.

At the signal of a Teen Driving Safety School instructors, the teen driver of the car I was riding in gunned the engine and drove as fast as she could towards an orange cone directly in front of her. The objective was for her to drive as close to the cone as possible, but brake before hitting it. This seemed counterintuitive to me – why practice a dangerous driving maneuver like this? According to the instructor, it's good for the teens to practice in a safe environment how to react when faced with a risky road situation.

For about an hour, the teens continued doing drills, then slowly trickled back inside to the classroom to use a Comcast Distracted Driving Simulator. Comcast originally created this simulator to train its technicians and kindly gifted one to the MBSL Teen Driving Safety School to enhance its programming.

I got to try the simulator too. I sat down in the plastic seat and took the wheel. The simulator looks very much like one of those car video games you see at arcades. My goal was to drive through the course in a safe and timely manner. The game deducted points for traffic violations. I struggled to navigate the course – I accidentally rammed my pretend car into walls and ran red lights. I began doing even worse when Derek Brown, MBSL Vice President of Marketing & Business Development, began calling out prompts. "Take a selfie of the group." "Now text it to your boss."

2020 Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land Teen Driving Teenns used a driving simulator to learn how distracted driving can impact their time behind the wheel.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land

By the time I finally finished the course, the group of us was in stitches over how poorly I had done, but we knew that safe driving, or lack thereof, was no laughing matter. Even now when I'm tempted to look down at my phone when I hear a text come in while I'm driving, I think back to this exercise and refrain.

I asked Clements student Haris Jhaveri why he applied to be part of the MBSL Teen Driving Safety School. "I follow Kory on Instagram. I've seen [the school] on his social media all over the place. People have talked about how it's a really nice experience and you learn from it. You get to drive a Mercedes… I also did this because my friend told me to. I like Mercedes, ok?". After participating in the training, Jhaveri noted "my driving is better".

That was the goal of all the adults in involved – improving teen driving. As Phil Morgante, Assistant Principal of Clements High School, noted "safety's number one with us – getting the kids to and from school".

Trending News

 
 

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been redesigned for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has sold more C-Class models than any other vehicle in the last decade. The current generation has been around since 2014 so it's time for a redesign. Enter the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The longer and wider C-Class features dynamic design that is meant to combine with the short front overhang, long wheelbase, and rear overhang to create a vehicle that looks like it's moving even when it's standing still. In this respect, the car isn't much different than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan: Exterior

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

1 / 24

At the front of every C-Class model is a grille with a central star. The grille and front bumper feature chrome surrounds. At the rear, two-piece taillamp divide the side wall and the trunk lid. Bumper design changes based on trim level. The car rides on either 18- or 19-inch wheels depending on the grade. Mercedes will offer the C-Class in a number of paint jobs including three new ones: Starling Blue, Cirrus Silver, Moonlight White, Graphite Grey, and Selenite Grey Magno.

The 2022 Mercedes C 300 and C 300 4MATIC are both powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with mild-hybrid (48-volt) technology that provides an electric boost on demand. The result is the delivery of 20 more horsepower and 148 pound-feet more torque when the mild-hybrid tech is employed, on top of what the engine is already capable of.

Front-wheel drive capability is standard and all-wheel drive is available for a surcharge. The system is more efficient than it was in the previous germination of the model.

Mercedes has given the model an Agility Control suspension with continuously adjustable damping. Buyers who opt for an AMG Line model get a sport suspension.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wagon: Exterior

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

1 / 27

Like in the new S-Class, the dashboard of the C-Class is divided into two sections - upper and lower. The new compact car has flattened round vents up top while the center console and lower dashboard flow together. The dashboard and central display, which is orientated portrait style, are slightly tilted toward the driver.

Directly in front of the driver is a 12.3-inch high-resolution display and the infotainment touch screen is slightly smaller- 11.9 inches. The central display is surrounded by jet black trim and finished with a chrome insert.

Minimalist design on the door panels frames the dashboard with the center panel featuring an elongated armrest that has design reflecting the aesthetic of the center console.

Mercedes has re-engineered the seats in the car to use layers of enveloping surfaces to create an impression of lightness. The head restaurants also have a new design.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan & Wagon: Exterior Details

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

1 / 6

The dashboard is covered with MB-Tex. AMG Line models get the buyer's choices of belt line detailing including natural grain wood in black and brown, as well as genuine aluminum.

Also like the new S-Class, the new C-Class is equipped with the second generation of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). Mercedes-Benz developed a new display aesthetic for the S-Class, which is now systematically used as the basis for other models.

Owners can customize the look fo the driver information display and infotainment screen with three distinct styles (Sporty, Classic and Understated) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service). The new C-Class is equipped with 64-color ambient lighting as standard, with an optionally available enhanced version.

  • In "Classic" style, the driver is welcomed with a familiar display environment. The proven display with two tubes and changing content between them provides all the information relevant to the driver.
  • "Sporty" is dominated by the color red, with a dynamic design for the central rev counter.
  • In "Understated" style, the content is reduced to what is essential. In addition, both screens can be shown in seven color schemes with the ambient lighting. This makes for an impressive color experience in the interior.
  • In "Assistance Mode," the traffic situation is shown in real time and supplemented with important displayed information.

The full-screen navigation also was adopted from the S-Class.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan & Wagon: Interior

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

1 / 24

Merceds is making the latest generation of the company's Driver Assistance Package available on the C-Class. Also, the company's advanced driver assist system technology has been advanced for the latest generation and works on highways, country roads. A new lane recognition 360-degree camera is employable in these scenarios.

Improved sensors are designed ot make Park Assist more effective.

The new 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan will arrive in U.S. dealerships in early 2022. The company will produce the model in Bremen (Germany), Beijing (China) and East London (South Africa).

Trending News

 
 

The Chevrolet Tahoe was highly rated on J.D. Power's list of most dependable vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Data analytics firm J.D. Power has been producing an annual U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study for more than 30 years — a study that automakers take seriously and consumers recognize and value.

The 2021 study examines problems experienced in the last 12 months by original owners of 2018 model-year vehicles, with overall dependability determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles — also known as PP100. A lower score indicates higher dependability.

This year J.D. Power reports that overall dependability is at an all-time high, with ratings improving 10 percent compared to 2020's results.

Of the eight categories analyzed by J.D. Power for this study, all improved year over year. However, ACEN, which stands for Audio/ Communication/Entertainment/Navigation, showed only marginal improvement and remains the most problematic category.

"From early in the ownership experience, many owners complain about these systems being problematic," said Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power. The 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from more than 33,000 original owners of 2018 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership.

J.D. Power conducted the study from July through November 2020.

Winner: Most Dependable Vehicle Overall 2021 - Porsche 911

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

Photo courtesy of Porsche Cars North America

For the second time in the last three years, the Porsche 911 earns the rank of most dependable vehicle overall. Perhaps the most iconic sports car in the world, the 911 reached the end of its seventh generation (991) in 2018. A few years earlier Porsche had gone to all turbocharged powerplants, with the base-level 911 Carrera generating 370 horsepower from its rear-mounted 3.0-liter engine.

In 2018 Porsche added the high-performance 911 GT3, boasting outstanding performance and handling with 500 horsepower and a proper manual gearbox.

Winner: Highest-Ranked Nameplate - Lexus

2021 Lexus LC 500 Inspiration Series Photo courtesy of Lexus

Lexus returns to the top of the annual J.D Power Vehicle Dependability study for the ninth time in the last 10 years. Last year Genesis — Hyundai's new luxury brand — outpaced Lexus, Toyota's longstanding luxury brand. With a low score in this year's study of 81 PP100 , Lexus is closely followed by Porsche, Kia, Toyota, Buick and Cadillac to round out the highest-ranking nameplates.

Winner: Most Dependable Small Premium Car 2021 - BMW 2 Series

2018 BMW 2 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW's small entry-luxury model for the U.S. market, the 2 Series joined the lineup as a 2014 model to replace the 1 Series. The 2 Series is a modern example of the type of sporty, agile, fun-to-drive car on which BMW built its reputation in the 1960s. For 2017 the 2 Series received the latest generation of BMW's TwinPower Turbo engine that offers increased horsepower and torque versus the outgoing version, as well as improved fuel economy.

The high-performance M2 joined the lineup a year earlier, powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine that produces 365 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque in overboost mode.

Winner: Most Dependable Compact Car 2021 - Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen Beetle Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen designed the contemporary VW Beetle as a modern interpretation of the German automaker's most iconic model. The New Beetle joined the lineup for 1998 and a convertible version joined the lineup for the 2003 model year. The Beetle was refreshed in 2017 with a revised exterior with more aggressive front and rear bumpers with chrome accents.

For 2018 Volkswagen swapped engines to a new 2.0-liter turbocharged unit producing 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and also added a new variant called the Beetle Coast, which features a unique Deep Sea Teal paint scheme, surfboard wood-look dash front and Pepita houndstooth cloth seating surfaces.

Winner: Most Dependable Compact Premium Car 2021 - Lexus ES

2018 Lexus ES

Photo courtesy of Lexus

One of the best-selling luxury cars in America during the 2018 model year, the ES was the entry-level Lexus sedan that came with many of the comfort and convenience features found in more expensive models. Updated with a bold new grille in 2016, the 2018 ES 350 is powered by a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine driving the front wheels.

At the time it may have been the entry-level sedan in the lineup, but the ES still offered plenty of standard luxury amenities expected in a Lexus including leather trim, a power moonroof, automatic climate control, a high-end audio system with Bluetooth audio streaming and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Winner: Most Dependable Compact Midsize Car 2021 - Kia Optima

2018 Kia Optima

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

In 2015 Kia refreshed the popular Optima midsize sedan with styling that tied in with the rest of the automaker's lineup. For 2018 Kia added the new Optima S, powered by a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter engine and features a sport front bumper, a rear spoiler, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lights, LED taillights, a 10-way power driver's seat and optional panoramic roof. The Optima SX 2.0L Turbo adds LED fog lights, a panoramic roof, a 10-way power front passenger seat and heated/ventilated front seats.

Winner: Most Dependable Midsize Sporty Car 2021 - Chevrolet Camaro

2018 Chevrolet Camaro

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevrolet introduced the sixth generation of the legendary Camaro for the 2016 model year, and while it looks similar to the previous version, the only carryover was the bowtie on the grille. Slightly smaller than the outgoing model, that new Camaro shed more than 200 pounds with the goal of improving performance as well as fuel efficiency.

A year later Chevrolet reprised the vaunted ZL1 powered by an LT4 supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine producing 650 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque.

In 2018 the automaker added the 1LE Performance Package for the ZL1 Coupe with carbon fiber aerodynamic enhancements, Multimatic DSSV dampers, adjustable ride height and camber, and 19-inch aluminum wheels.

Winner: Most Dependable Midsize Premium Car 2021 - Genesis G80

2017 Genesis G80

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Genesis spun off from parent company Hyundai as an entirely new brand for the 2017 model year, aiming to move more clients upscale. Once Genesis became its own brand, the model formerly known as the Hyundai Genesis was renamed the G80, and in its first year on the market it was already one of the top-selling luxury sedans in America. The 2018 G80's 3.8-liter V6 engine produces 311 horsepower, combined with a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional.

Today's G80 is well equipped with heated power front seats, leather trim, an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, a high-end audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the latest high-tech safety features.

Winner: Most Dependable Large Car 2021 - Toyota Avalon

2018 Toyota Avalon

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Flagship of the Toyota lineup, Avalon feels like a high-end luxury sedan, especially in the Limited trim. Refreshed in 2015, the 2018 Avalon offers a quiet, roomy cabin and was available with either a 268-horsepower V6 engine or very efficient hybrid system. A year earlier Toyota upgraded the Avalon with standard Toyota Safety Sense-P for all trim levels. This included dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and automatic high beam headlights. One year later Toyota introduced an all-new Avalon based on the Toyota New Global Architecture platform.

Winner: Most Dependable Small SUV 2021 - Kia Sportage

2018 Kia Sportage

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Sportage moved into its fourth generation with a complete redesign for the 2017 model year. The compact crossover featured updated styling, a stiffer structure, new suspension, premium materials and a suite of advanced driver-assistance systems. Larger than its predecessor, the updated Sportage features improved passenger and cargo space.

Available in a range of trim levels, the Sportage is also offered as the SX Turbo, powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder unit producing 240 horsepower. Sportage was the first Kia to offer UVO3, which features 14 telematics services, 8 GB of music storage, access to onscreen apps and Wi-Fi tethering capability.

Winner: Most Dependable Small Premium SUV 2021 - Mercedes-Benz GLA

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The smallest model of the Mercedes-Benz SUV lineup, the GLA debuted as a 2015 model aimed directly at the BMW X1. The German automaker refreshed the compact GLA crossover for 2018 model year with updated exterior styling as well as a new instrument cluster, a standard 8.0-inch high-resolution display and a standard rearview camera.

The GLA is available with a variety of powertrains, including the high-performance GLA45 AMG powered by a handcrafted AMG turbocharged 2.0-liter engine producing 375 horsepower.

Winner: Most Dependable Compact SUV 2021 - Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision

Photo courtesy of Buick

The Buick division of General Motors has experienced great sales success in China, and in 2016 Buick introduced a new SUV built in that country. The Envision crossover slots between the small Encore and midsize Enclave crossovers.

The 5-passenger Envision features styling that fits seamlessly in the Buick lineup and employs a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that produces 252 horsepower and uses Buick's first Active Twin Clutch all-wheel-drive system.

Occupants of Envision enjoy 8-way power front seats, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, tri-zone climate control and available OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.

Winner: Most Dependable Compact Premium SUV 2021 - Porsche Macan

2015 Porsche Macan

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The compact-premium SUV market is plenty crowded, but the Macan certainly stood out from said crowd in 2018. The second crossover in the current Porsche lineup, Macan joined for the 2014 model year with sales increasing every year since its introduction. Styled after the larger Cayenne, Macan still embodies all qualities expected from the iconic German sports car brand.

The 2018 Macan comes with full-time all-wheel drive and is available with various powertrains ranging from a 2.0-liter 252-horsepower 4-cylinder engine to a 440-horsepower V6 in the Macan Turbo with the Performance Package.

Winner: Most Dependable Midsize SUV 2021 - Kia Sorento

2018 Kia Sorento

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The 2018 Kia Sorento features exterior styling that fits in with the rest of the Kia lineup. Sorento has a roomy interior and can be equipped with the latest version of Kia's UVO entertainment and communication interface offering services such as Geo Fencing, Speed Alert and Curfew Alert. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, the 2018 Sorento comes in a few trim levels with three engine options, including a powerful 290-horsepower V6.

The Sorento features a long list of advanced safety features, including autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, making Sorento one of the safest crossover SUVs on the road.

Winner: Most Dependable Midsize Premium SUV 2021 - Lexus GX

2018 Lexus GX

​Photo courtesy of Lexus

By the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, the SUV trend had moved toward luxury crossovers that were more at home on pavement than on dirt, although the 2018 Lexus GX still retains its impressive off-road prowess. Based on the Toyota 4Runner, the 2018 GX has full-time 4WD and all the equipment needed to do some serious off-roading.

Utilizing a trucklike body-on-frame construction, the 2018 GX460 is powered by a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produces 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque with advanced dynamic control systems and a 6,500-pound towing capacity. Despite exceptional off-road capability, the 2018 GX460 features luxurious amenities inside, while the standard Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System delivers a smooth, comfortable ride.

Winner: Most Dependable Large SUV 2021 - Chevrolet Tahoe

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

There aren't many vehicles on the road that can compete with the Chevrolet Tahoe or its larger Suburban sibling. With seating for up to nine occupants, plenty of cargo capacity, the capability to tow more than 8,500 pounds, Tahoe is still one of the most capable SUVs on the road.

Available with two- or four-wheel drive, the 2018 Tahoe could be equipped with a suite of safety features as well as 4G LTE connectivity with a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless phone charging, power-folding second- and third-row seats, an 8.0-inch color touchscreen and multiple USB ports.

In 2018 Chevrolet also offered the Tahoe RST special edition that added a street-performance look with most of the chrome deleted and additional gloss-black trim.

Winner: Most Dependable Minivan 2021 - Toyota Sienna

2019 Toyota Sienna Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

As one of the top-selling minivans on the U.S. market, the Sienna received a slight face-lift for the 2018 model year and, more importantly, added Toyota's Safety Sense P suite of high-tech safety features as standard equipment. Powering the 2018 Sienna is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 296 horsepower and the only minivan in 2018 available with all-wheel drive.

The van also boasts several innovative features, including Driver Easy Speak, which uses the microphone from the voice-command multimedia system to broadcast to the audio system's rear speakers. Sienna is also available with a Blu-ray entertainment system featuring a 16.4-inch display.

Winner: Most Dependable Midsize Pickup 2021 - Nissan Frontier

2017 Nissan Frontier

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Frontier is Nissan's entry in the midsize pickup truck market. Available as a King Cab or Crew Cab, the 2018 Frontier could be had with rear- or 4-wheel drive as well as with long or short truck beds. Two engines were available: a 2.5-liter 152-horsepower, four-cylinder unit or a 4.0-liter V6 producing a more respectable 261 horsepower.

Frontier could be equipped with a variety of features including a heavy-duty suspension, available off-road-tuned Bilstein high-pressure performance gas shock absorbers, skidplates (PRO-4X grade), and an innovative Utili-track Channel System for easy cargo securing.

Winner: Most Dependable Large Light-Duty Pickup 2021 - Toyota Tundra

2018 Toyota Tundra Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The full-size truck market is one of the hardest for a non-domestic brand to crack. Although the Tundra had improvements in sales over the years, it still makes up a small percentage of overall truck sales. Just three years after getting a complete redesign, the 2018 Tundra carried through with a variety of cab styles and bed lengths as well as rear- or four-wheel drive. Two V8 engines were available at the time, with the higher trims getting a 5.7-liter V8 that produces 381 horsepower, allowing the big truck to tow more than 10,000 pounds.

Winner: Most Dependable Large Heavy-Duty Pickup 2021 - Chevrolet Silverado HD

2018 Silverado 3500 HD White LTZ Custom Sport Crew Cab

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

When consumers climb into the heavy-duty truck market, their choices narrow considerably. The 2018 Silverado HD combines impressive capability with a comfortable cabin and driving ease. Engineers improved the latter thanks to Chevrolet's new Digital Steering Assist power steering, designed to make hauling and trailering more manageable via electronic controls that enhance roadholding and stability on the highway. The 2018 Silverado HD can tow as much as 23,300 pounds when properly equipped.

Trending News