Handing the keys over to your teenager for their first solo run behind the wheel is a milestone. A nerve-wracking milestone, but an achievement nonetheless. Undoubtedly, your newly-minted 16-year-old can’t wait to get behind the wheel; but we’re willing to bet that you’re a little less itchy to see your young driver hit the highway. While we can’t pull a Cher and “turn back time,” we can offer you this comprehensive list of the safest cars for your teen driver.
Keeping both budget and teenage tastes in mind, we’ve rounded up a selection of new and used cars for your baby driver. Strong safety ratings and reasonable horsepower can also help keep your car insurance rates down.
Best New Cars for Teens
Bigger isn’t always better. While some teenagers may have an eye on horsepower, torque, and performance, others may have their hearts set on clean and green. Full-size SUVs can be unwieldy and difficult to maneuver into a tight space, performance cars are best saved for college graduation, and many economy cars simply don’t have the safety ratings we can get behind. We’ve done our level best to find a happy medium, after all, keeping peace in the family is important too.
Is there anything more quintessentially “first car” than the Honda Civic. Consistently top-rated by owners, car enthusiasts, and the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHSTA), this everyday go-getter is perfect for budget- and style-minded families. Starting at $18,000, the base model won’t put too big a dent in the budget and resale values on Hondas are routinely impressive. May we humbly suggest that it looks best in black?
It seems like old Subarus never die. That’s because they can take a bruising and keep on cruising. Kick off the next generation of a Subaru classic with the 2017 Subaru Impreza. Hold off on the WRX for now, but get your teen started with an entry-level Impreza at $18,000.
Mazda CX-3 or CX-5
If crossover SUVs are your thing, then you need to check out the all-new for 2018 Mazda CX-5. It’s worth noting here that red cars are not, in fact, more expensive to insure and the Soul Red Crystal Metallic looks mighty fine, but it’ll add about $600 to a base price of $20,000 for the CX-3 and $24,000 for the CX-5 (which comes loaded with a slew of safety-minded features). Both boast an overall 5-star rating from the NHSTA.
With an MSRP of $21,000, this American stalwart is an excellent choice for parents and young drivers looking for excellent value in a mid-size vehicle. With an overall 5-star rating from the NHSTA, the Malibu is a feature-rich cruiser is perfect for high school, college, and beyond.
If its distinctive look catches your eye, then the new Toyota Prius is just the ticket for your eco-minded teen. Starting at $23,500 this green machine gets up to 58 miles per gallon! Like the rest of the cars on this new car list, the Prius takes home a 5-star NHSTA rating as well.
Best Used Cars for Teens
Not everyone can afford or wants to purchase a new car for their new driver. In fact, a vast majority of teens find themselves behind the wheel of a new-to-them, pre-owned car. With that in mind, we selected a variety of safe and affordable cars and trucks that insurance companies love.
2011 Dodge Avenger
With a price tag of $7-8,000, this affordable sedan has the American-made cred your kid can get behind and a sticker price that won’t put a gouge in your wallet. Not only that, but the Avenger makes the cut as one of the “best vehicles for your teen” on the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) list.
2012 Acura TL
The IIHS give the Acura the green light for safety as well. The styling has held up well over time and consumers reportedly love their TLs. With 280 horsepower, the base model has just enough pep in its step to make your kid cool, but not too fast. Odds are good that you’ll be able to find a good condition Acura TL on a dealer’s lot for $13,000. Just make sure those Takata airbags have been replaced.
2014 Toyota Tundra Extended Cab
It’s Tennessee, y’all. Sometimes a truck’s your only option. Unfortunately, pick-ups rarely make the list of safest vehicles for teens. While they have this image of rough and tough, trucks are often not nearly as safe as other vehicles on the road. The 2014 Toyota Tundra earned “good” ratings on 4 out of 5 tests and an “acceptable” rating for small overlap front crashes. In the used truck world, this is about as good as it gets. A used Tundra Extended cab will set you back about $26,000.
2015 Volvo v60
What kind of “safest cars for teens” list would this be without a Volvo? And if station wagons can be sexy, then this is your kid’s wagon. This $23,000 gem is perfect for hauling athletic gear or cleaning out your garage. As an added bonus, its design is distinctive, so if your kid’s not a car kid, they’ll surely be able to find the car in a crowded high school parking lot. It’s got the IIHS stamp of approval to boot.
2015 Audi A3
If you’re looking for used, but not too used, then the 5-star safety rated baby Audi, the Audi A3, may be your ride. KBB estimates that you’ll be able to find one of these little beauties for around $18,000. The styling is thoughtful, the engine has the perfect punch, and it handles like a dream. The backseat’s a little cramped, but that not necessarily a bad thing. Like so many others on this list, it holds a 5-star rating from NHSTA.
Getting ready to welcome a new driver into the family? Wondering what your teen is about to do to your insurance rates? Then check out our post, How Age Affect Insurance Rates or contact Royce Williams Insurance for a free auto insurance quote.