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Best Cars for Teenagers and Young Drivers

February 15, 2013

A survey of best cars for teenagers and young drivers by type

Recommendations from four major car review sites were surveyed for an analysis of the best cars for teenagers and young drivers to use.

Summary of recommendations on best cars for teenagers and young drivers

  1. Mid-sized sedans may be the blandest on the road but are the best first cars for teenagers or young drivers. Four-cylinder engines are better than six-cylinder engines.
  2. Newer SUVs or 4WDs may be suitable depending on the make and model. Experts have generally agreed that these cars are too bulky to handle.
  3. Cheap pickup trucks and old, heavily used cars are NOT recommended.
  4. Sporty cars and tiny subcompacts are out as well (NOT recommended).

Details of recommendations on best cars for teenagers and young drivers

Mid-sized sedans as best cars

Mid-sized sedans costing between $15,000 to $20,000 are the most appropriate because they are safest and most reliable.

Late-model cars appear to be the best cars for teenagers according to WSJ’s reviewer as “Late-model used cars offer a just-right combination of modest power and performance, top-notch crash scores, advanced safety features, and decent reliability scores that safety experts say parents should seek in any car intended for a new driver.

The cars are also easily serviced and four-cylinder engine sedans do not allow the teen or young driver to have too much power on the road.

Newer SUVs and 4WDs

Most reviewers felt that SUVs and 4WDs are not appropriate as first cars. AOL Autos felt that “Even with rollover stability control technology, we don’t feel these are appropriate cars for teens because of their high center of gravity, which could result in a rollover despite technology on board.

For the first time in 2012, certain newer sports utility vehicles were included on the recommended list of best cars for teenagers by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Apparently, the IIHS data has revealed that newer SUVs with stability control reduced the risk of rollover crashes by 70% when compared to the older models.

Pickup trucks, sporty cars, and small subcompacts

All review sites agreed that aged and cheap pickup trucks could have a wealth of undiscovered problems that may only be discovered at the time of the accident. This is not something you would want for your teen.

As for subcompacts, they are just too tiny to protect the driver and passengers in an accident. Considering that motor vehicle accidents are the highest cause of death in teenagers, subcompacts are just not appropriate.

Sporty cars are simply too tempting for male teens and young drivers.

Review sites

The review sites used in this article included:

  • New York Times, The Best Cars for a Teenager, https://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/the-best-cars-for-a-teenage-driver/
  • Wall Street Journal, The Top Cars for Teens: Better Safe Than Sporty, https://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703712504576244871890273248.html
  • AutoGuide.com, Top Ten Cars for Teens, https://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/05/top-ten-cars-for-teens.html
  • AOLAutos, Series: 10 Best Car Options For Teen Drivers, https://autos.aol.com/gallery/best-cars-for-teens-0/