The best new and used cars for teens
If your teen is ready to drive, you may need another car. Not just any car. But a car that's safe and affordable enough to satisfy you, yet cool and trendy enough to satisfy your kid.
Take a look at our picks for:
We chose these cars by facing up to the fact that most new drivers suffer through an accident or two, even if it's just a fender-bender from a poorly judged parking maneuver.
So your teen will need a car that's:
- Relatively cheap to buy and own.
- Small and easy to drive.
- Fully capable of protecting him or her in a wreck.
That's why we think anyone buying a car for a young driver should look for these three things:
Small engines with modest horsepower. Kids just learning how to control a car aren't well-served by high-performance engines. And, with a small engine, you'll get better gas mileage.
A solid record of reliability and a long warranty. The best way to keep your kid from being stranded somewhere is to buy a car that won't break down. Having the car still covered by the manufacturer's warranty can save hundreds of dollars in repair bills when something does go wrong.
Lots of safety features. For us, that means antilock brakes (ABS), side air bags for front-seat occupants and electronic stability control, which prevents slides and skids, if at all possible. Our top picks also had to have earned at least four-star ratings for front- and side-impact crash safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
One final note: You won't find any pickups or SUVs among our picks. That's because cars handle better and sit lower than light trucks, which makes them less likely to roll over in skids and collisions.