When shopping for a car for a teenager, it's important to factor in safety considering the combination of immaturity and inexperience. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Consumer Reports (CR) agree to that strongly, which has brought them to come up with a list of cars that are best for teen drivers.
And as you would have guessed, safety is the common factor among these cars, in addition to reliability and affordability are also top concerns for families.
The IIHS and CR divide their list into three categories: Best Choices – Used, Good Choices – Used, and New Vehicle Choices. Prices play a huge part in the ranking.
Gallery: 2017 Mazda3, Mazda6 U.S. Spec
Among the best choices of used small cars for teenagers, the Ford C-Max Hybrid (2014-2015) tops the list with a price tag upward of $8,400. The Mazda3 (2014 or newer; both sedan and hatchback), comes next with a starting price of $8,700. The Chevrolet Volt (2014) is ranked third at $10,500.
Meanwhile, the Subaru Legacy (2013 or newer; built after August 2012) tops the list of best choices for midsize cars, while the Toyota Avalon (2015 or newer) is the one for large cars. If you're shopping for the best small SUV for teens, the Mazda CX-5 (2014 or newer; built after October 2013) is recommended, while the Ford Edge (2015, 2020; built after May 2015). The Toyota Sienna (2015-2018) is the top choice if your teen wants to drive a minivan.
For the good choices of used cars for teens, these are the top choices for each body type: Mazda3 (2011-13; built after December 2010), Toyota Prius V (2012-2014), Ford Taurus (2011), and Nissan Rogue (2014-2020).
For new cars, all of the recommended vehicles received IIHS's Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award and come with standard vehicle-to-vehicle automated emergency braking. These vehicles also received average or better scores on reliability, emergency handling tests, and dry braking distances of less than 140 feet from 60 miles per hour, as ranked by CR. They also received a good or better from CR for ease of use of controls.
The top picks for new cars for teens are the Mazda3, Subaru Legacy, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Hyundai Santa Fe (built after July 2021), and Honda Odyssey.