Showing some remarkable discipline, especially for a 17-year-old, Matt took his hard-earned money and bought a car that he can (almost) call his own. We’ll transfer title when he’s 18. He earned it. Most of the money put toward it is his, and grandma chipped in a generous contribution. So now I get my wheels (mostly) back to myself and we only have to worry about shuffling one kid around now. Three more years …

The vehicle in question is a 2003 Suzuki XL-7, a surprisingly roomy compact SUV. It has more creature comforts than a 17-year-old has a right to expect (remember some of the beaters we drove at 17??) — AC, spiffy after-market stereo with USB port for the iPod, and nary a sign of rust. It’s over 100 k miles, but it passed all the tests with flying colors, the engine is clean and no detectable signs of burning oil, etc. These days, 100,000 miles is just breaking it in. And it has a 90-day warranty. So, not too shabby.

We looked at a couple of Ford Escapes and a Jeep Cherokee, but this came out a winner.  Oh, you want pictures? OK, here:

Yup, caught him mid-chew heading out to soccer practice.

Matt expertly maneuvers the turn onto the driveway, hardly scraping the house at all.

Again Matt skillfully backs down the driveway, successfully avoiding two pedestrians and a school bus.