As far as cars breaking down, it seriously has to do with the make and model. If you have a choice between a nice used car and a new piece of crap, always go for the used one. I can't STAND seeing people buying junky new Focuses and Kias when they could have a top-of-the-line used Grand Prix or Accura for the same price. It's ridiculous. Like JH said, some people simply have a 'new car' fetish. I'm SO glad that I don't have that. I bought my 'used' Grand Prix six years ago and it has never given me any problems whatsoever. It's been like brand new ever since. A real champ.
Anyway, in your case, I'd go with whatever YOU can personally afford. I know what it's like to be in debt to your parents...not through me, but my brother. Even if they DON'T say you have to pay them back, they will expect favors in return for the rest of your life. They will always think of you as 'owing' them. I have never borrowed one red cent from my parents in all my life. Seriously. The only thing I accepted outright was holiday gifts.
I think you would feel much better if you got a used car on your own. I know I did.