What's the best first car for a teen driver?
Nowadays, I see teen drivers all over the road, and it seems that too often, kids and their parents get caught up in how you look in a car instead of basic needs such as safety.
Sure, a car that focuses on safety most likely isn’t going to look “cool” in their eyes. But, is it really worth it when auto accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 20? Safety is paramount and, luckily, you don’t have to search far and wide to find good cars for teenagers.
Good first cars are out there, you just need to do a little searching.
Does your kid really need something nice? Of course not. It's my belief that you need to be humbled young so you can take that trait with you throughout life. When you get down to it, all new drivers really need is something safe and reliable. Cars that have great safety features are usually cheaper. Yes, your kid or kids will beg for something fancy and trendy. Yes, they will groan and moan if it doesn’t have that “cool” factor. Stand your ground and do what you know is right. I’ve already done all the hard work for you.
Just a word of caution; there’s a good chance they’re not going to like these car choices, but then again, there may be a few positive reactions. Below are the top-5 affordable cars for teens and new drivers:
- 2009-present Honda Fit. Sure, it may look a bit like a spaceship, but the Honda Fit has been labeled as an “unqualified success across the globe.” A reliable 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine is a great gas saver that just also happens to have a little power underneath its belt, too. It’s third-generation models (2013 and over) come stock with 130 horsepower. (IIHS crash test rating: Good)
- 2005-2010 Honda Civic. As a previous Civic owner, I can say without a doubt that it’s the best car I ever owned. They’re mechanically sound and have a great resale value. If you take care of it, it can go over 250,000 miles and more. Because it’s such a popular car, customizations can be relatively cheap. All in all, this is my recommended car choice for the first-time driver in your family. (IIHS crash test rating: Good)
- 2012-present Ford Focus. It seems like the Focus has been in every good-to-own car list since its 1998 introduction. Its engine is a modest 2.0 liter, 160-horsepower inline four design. Ford may not always hit a home run on all of its models, but the Focus is for sure one of its best selling and long standing bastions of top safety-rated vehicles. (IIHS crash test rating: Good)
2014-2015 Kia Soul. Often described as a “box on wheels” this car is certainly quirky. Its 130-horsepower engine is nothing to laugh about. A surprisingly roomy interior and high-level utility can be attractive to young drivers. Plus, what’s not to like about being unique? (IIHS crash test rating: Good)
- 2010-2012 Mazda3. This sleek-looking vehicle is a good choice for a teen looking for something sporty. Its equipped with the SkyActiv engine which is fuel-friendly and powerful for its size. If you’re comfortable with your teen having a little more vroom-vroom, the high-performance Mazdaspeed3 is a great choice though it will eclipse the $10k mark. (IIHS crash test rating: Good)
Dear first-time or teen drivers: that feeling of buying your first car will last forever.
It should be memorable for all of the right reasons. Everyone on the road had to experience being a first-time driver, too. Buying that first car is a right-of-passage once that license comes in the mail. I doubt any first-time or teen drivers are reading this article, but for you parents out there, this is a good learning experience for everyone involved.
Reliability and safety is key. This is a new venture for teen drivers and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Let’s not forget that a car is essentially a missile on wheels. The more prepared you and your teen are, the better the new-driving experience will be for everyone.