When you’re on the hunt for the best cars for teenagers, it can be difficult to juggle your wants as a parent vs the wish list of often tech-hungry and image-conscious young adults. However, given the fact that inexperienced teen drivers are among the most likely to be involved in an accident, safety should rightfully be one of the top priorities in your search. You want your teen’s first car to work for them, whether that be through responsive handling, tailored safety features, or great headlights.
To help you find the right choice for your teenage driver, we’ve searched far and wide for both used and affordable new options that have hit the mark when it comes to safety, reliability, handling, and easy maintenance. Ready to find the best cars for teenagers? Keep reading.
Best New Cars for Teenagers
1. Honda Civic
No surprise here – an all-around solid choice for first-time drivers, the Honda Civic provides a stellar mix of value and great features. Parents and teens alike will also love the Civic’s impressive fuel economy, which clocks in at a standard 32 mpg.
Receiving great marks for performance, safety, and reliability, this classic subcompact car is a first vehicle that could potentially be a great road companion even past the high school and college years.
The 2020 Honda Civic starts at: $19,850
2. Volkswagen Jetta
Another solid pick among the top cars for teenagers is the Jetta. User-friendly with a roomy interior, good handling, and well-rated headlights, this car will keep your teen comfortable during longer and night-time drives.
Of particular note is the Jetta’s safety and reliability ratings. Volkswagen’s compact car earned a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA, as well as the highest rating of “Good” for crash tests conducted by the IIHS. Topping off the accolades is J.D. Power’s “better than average” reliability rating for the Jetta.
The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta starts at: $18,895
3. Toyota Camry
The popular Toyota Camry received a well-earned score of 84 from Consumer Reports, and has earned fourth place in CR’s ranking of midsize cars.
Safety’s also a top priority for Toyota. All Camry’s come standard with new safety features such as forward collision warning, automatic braking, lane departure warning, and lane-keep assist.
With the Camry’s XLE trim, you’ll be able to add blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, and reverse automatic braking. If you’re extra worried about keeping your young driver safe on the road, the Camry may be a perfect fit.
The 2020 Toyota Camry starts at: $24,425
4. Subaru Crosstrek
When it comes to subcompact SUVs, the Crosstrek is best in class. Consistently receiving praise for its easy handling, longevity, and stellar EyeSight safety features, the Subaru Crosstrek offers a good value for a great return.
And, if you or your teen is interested in having an electric option, the Crosstrek is available as a hybrid – but bear in mind it’s not much of an improvement on mileage.
The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek starts at: $22,145
5. Hyundai Accent
If you’re on a budget but don’t want to compromise on the latest in car safety features, the Hyundai Accent may be the way to go. Along with key features like automatic braking, the Accent’s Limited trim comes with Hyundai’s Blue Link system, which allows parents get alerts if their teen driver is out past curfew, speeding, or driving somewhere they shouldn’t.
Couple those features with being a generally very reliable and dependable car, and you’ve got a great starter vehicle in the Accent.
The 2020 Hyundai Accent starts at: $15,295
Best Used Cars for Teenagers
6. 2016 Honda Accord
It’s almost a rite of passage for new drivers to get behind the wheel of an Accord at some point – it’s such a quintessential teen car.
The 2016 model brought handling updates, and more importantly, made the Honda Sensing safety sweet available on almost every trim. Key features of Honda’s safety suite include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and more.
7. 2015 Chevrolet Traverse
Among its SUV competitors, the Chevy Traverse emerges as one of the best midsize offerings available today.
And as far as safety goes, the Traverse earned a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, as well as Good ratings on all IIHS crash tests. Plus, with three rows of seating, this SUV adds versatility to the mix, making it great as a family car as well.
8. 2017 Toyota Corolla
If it’s any indication, Kelly Blue Book concedes that the 2017 Corolla, “may very well be the perfect first car”.
Excellent safety features, a not too shabby fuel economy of 34 mpg, and an affordable price point makes this pick standout as a great overall choice.
9. 2016 Buick LaCrosse
Responsive handling and a 5-star score in reliability position the LaCrosse as one of the best used cars for teenagers. Truly one of the most dependable cars on the road today, this Buick model can be relied upon to keep your teen safe and carry them through their teens and well beyond.
Key safety features tailored for inexperienced drivers include forward collision warning, parking sensors, lane departure warnings, and more.
10. 2016 Toyota Prius
One of the top-ranked hatchbacks at the time, the 2016 Prius provides an economical choice without sacrificing style or safety.
Unique features include an impressively spacious cargo hold, standard rearview camera feature, and fantastic 52 mpg fuel range – one of the Prius’s major selling points.
When it comes to picking the right cars for teenagers, it’s often not the flashiest car or newest model that makes the best starter car. Ultimately, the best cars are the ones that are dependable, and keep your kids safe in all driving scenarios. Looking for the safest headlights for your teen driver? Check out our affordable selection of headlights and accessories here.