Best Cars For Teens
My first vehicle was a brand new Honda 150 Elite scooter that I got when I was 17 so I would have something economical to drive while I was at University. I didn’t bother getting my license to drive a four wheeler until I was 19 and at that point inherited a ten year old beige 1980 Volvo DL that had been my Dad’s company car and then my mom drove it for about five years. Our Japanese friends called it Twice-Dead! It was a safe, reliable car with absolutely no sex appeal. I drove it for a few years and then sold it when I was working and living in downtown Vancouver, because I walked and took the bus everywhere.
They say the ideal cars for first time drivers are built like tanks, get bad gas mileage so teens can’t go far from home, and just have room for one person so the driver isn’t distracted by friends. The Volvo met two of those requirements easily, and was so ugly that if I had been driving it in high school, none of my friends would have been super enthusiastic about being chauffeured by me.
Boring but Safe
Because compact cars don’t fare as well in collisions, large cars are harder to maneuver, and SUV’s present a higher rollover risk, the safest cars are boring mid-size sedans. The reason for this is that they are a decent size, with a low center of gravity, so they absorb collisions better and tend to stay rubber side down. An inline four cylinder engine is best for good gas mileage and because it doesn’t go 0 to 60 in a few seconds. Six cylinders are thought to provide more power than a teenage driver needs.
Driving a car is a huge responsibility for a teenager, and while many parents can afford to buy a new car, it may make more sense to eliminate some of the pressure by going with a used car for a first time driver. There is of course a whole other argument that teens who are given brand new cars have very little respect for the car because they don’t have any investment in it.
There are several older model cars that offer great safety features for a lower price. The 2002 Subaru Legacy, 2002 Volvo V-70, 2005 Toyota RAV4 are reported to be great used cars for teen drivers. Newer pre-owned cars that are recommended for teens are the 2009 Honda Accord, 2009 Toyota Camry, 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, 2010 Volkswagen Jetta, 2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2012 Honda Accord, 2012 Toyota Camry, 2012 Volkswagen Jetta and 2012 Chevrolet Malibu.
New Options Include High Tech Parental Controls
The 2012 Hyundai Sonata has a terrific new feature called BlueLink which gives parents control over the maximum speed the car can be driven and also sends an alert if the car isn’t back in the driveway by a preset curfew!
Other new cars that experts suggest are best for teens because of a combination of reliability, safety, and reasonable insurance include the Kia Forte, Honda CR-Z, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, and the Nissan Cube.
Heather Hopkins is a dedicated mother and engineer who works with Nissan automotive. She loves to blog about cars and how to make sure you are getting the right vehicle for your needs.