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Best Cars for Teens


Here is a list of cars that Consumer Reports considers best for young drivers based on their track-test findings and crash-test results.

These vehicles also have average or better reliability, according to their surveys. The selections emphasize newer models in large part due to the availability of electronic stability control (ESC), a proven life-saving feature.

Read more about buying your first car in the February 2017 issue of Boys’ Life magazine.

  • Acura TSX
  • Buick Regal (2012-2013)
  • Chevrolet Equinox (4-cyl., 2012 or later)
  • Chevrolet Malibu (4-cyl., 2009 or later)
  • Ford Focus sedan (2010-2011)
  • Ford Fusion (4-cyl. and hybrid, 2010-2012 and 2014 or later)
  • Honda Accord (4-cyl., 2008 or later)
  • Honda Civic (2012 or later)
  • Honda CR-V (2015 or later)
  • Honda Fit (2011 or later)
  • Hyundai Elantra (2012 or later)
  • Hyundai Santa Fe (2007-2009 and 2011-2014, non-3rd row)
  • Hyundai Sonata (4-cyl., non-turbo, 2006 or later)
  • Hyundai Tucson (2010 or later)
  • Kia Forte (2010-2011)
  • Kia Optima (non-turbo, 2011 or later)
  • Kia Soul
  • Kia Sportage (4-cyl., nonturbo, 2011 or later)
  • Mazda3 (2011 or later)
  • Mazda6 i (4-cyl.)
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mitsubishi Outlander (non-3rd row, 2007-2013)
  • Nissan Altima (4-cyl., 2010-2012)
  • Nissan Rogue (2010-2013 and 2015)
  • Nissan Sentra (2011-2012)
  • Scion xB (2008 or later)
  • Scion xD (2012 or later)
  • Subaru Crosstrek
  • Subaru Forester (non-turbo, 2009 or later)
  • Subaru Impreza (non-turbo, 2011 or later)
  • Subaru Legacy (4-cyl., 2009 or later)
  • Subaru Outback (4-cyl., 2009 or later)
  • Toyota Camry (4-cyl., 2010 or later)
  • Toyota Corolla (2010 or later)
  • Toyota Matrix (2010 or later)
  • Toyota Prius (2010 or later)
  • Toyota RAV4 (4-cyl., non-3rd row, 2004 or later)
  • Volkswagen Jetta (2009-2014)
  • Volkswagen Jetta/Golf Sportwagen (2009-2014)
  • Volkswagen Rabbit (2009) / Golf (2010-2014)
  • Volkswagen Tiguan (2013 or later)
  • Volvo S60 (2012 or later)

29 Comments on Best Cars for Teens

  1. Country Boy101 // January 4, 2021 at 6:48 pm // Reply

    what about cars with hitches and at a lower price. Some teens are country ya know. At least have a ranger or some truck at most a f250 or a silverado

  2. Is a 1985 Toyota Corolla a good car?

  3. That_Cube_guy // January 31, 2017 at 9:00 am // Reply

    Lots of people are complaing about the newer models and prices. These are picked for saftey, not ease of accecibility. So you are probably going to buy one from family/friends. This is just a suggestion list remember.

  4. I agree with these cars are out of the price range for most families. I would like to see a list of cars to avoid- that would be helpful.

  5. All of these vehicles are cars or small SUVs what about trucks ? Please write an article reviewing the best trucks for teens to drive.

  6. awesome tank master // January 23, 2017 at 8:59 pm // Reply

    it’s a nice list, but, who drives these cars. the article in the magazine is right, buy one from family, or just borrow it for school. most of them are expensive, and most teens don’t want to drive these cars in the first place

  7. JustAnAverageEagle // January 23, 2017 at 8:43 pm // Reply

    My first car was a ’98 Toyota 4Runner. No cool or adventurous cars on this list.Most teens can’t afford to have all that fancy stuff with more to break. I would personally go with an older, reliable, and that has some character or at least some utility.Just my opinion.

  8. have2Scouts // March 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm // Reply

    Why are all these cars foreign, except 3?

  9. Chamillionare // February 20, 2013 at 1:16 am // Reply

    In my Prius the cops ain’t catch me ridin’ dirty!

  10. Soon-to-be-Eagle // November 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm // Reply

    I find it kind of sad that all these cars are 2004 or later, with a majority of them being post-2007. Not everyone can afford a car of that price. Maybe a middle-Class family, but if you’re someone who lives in the family situation that I am in, you can’t afford some of those cars. My father had told me that the most on a car he could do is 8k, not 16-20k like the rest of these cars. Consumer Reports needs to think about some of these things. They should have a section saying “Best Cars on a BUDGET”, considering they think everyone can afford these brand new cars. On a side note, who, being 17, would want a Prius?

    • Well, if you need a car, we use a 1998 dodge intrepid. It’s a really nice car (although it is wide, so a bit challenging to park) and I’ve seen it for as low as $1500.

  11. this list is great but maybe you should include a list of cars to try to avoid yea most f the time they’re cheaper but unsafe and cars that have to much power

  12. I live in a Place were I need a truck! And I don’t have money to buy a 2012 or later vehicle! My Truck will probably be a 2005 or 2006 for about $8,000.


  13. CarDrivingScouter // October 30, 2012 at 10:48 am // Reply

    The Honda Civic would be a good teen car… not huge, good weight-to-power ratio, plenty of scoot, and it’ll run for years. Same thing with the Honda Accord… I drove one of those for 8 years with no major repairs. Would have driven it longer if a drunk driver hadn’t smashed into it 🙁 I replaced it with another Honda that I’ve been driving for 11 years, no worries. I expect the same would hold true for Toyotas and Nissans.

  14. Ford200Sprint // October 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm // Reply

    This list made me facepalm while rofling. Try repairing one of those piles of junk, there are sensors that you have to reprogram when you change the battery. They are plastic so if you hit something you need a new car. Those little four bangers are so underpowered it takes like three seconds to redline when you floor it with no load. Then you have the genius abs system that basically tells the car to not stop. Get a pre 70s car and you can see what a real car is. Easy to maintain, plenty of power, easy to get parts. You can get disk brake and power steering conversion kits and it will be ridiculously easy to drive. Easy to work on with normal tools, no computer required. You can actually learn to fix the thing yourself instead of having to take it to a shop and get ripped off. And pre 1968 cars dont need the pointless smog check, they are way cheap to register, and they are cheaper to insure. And old cars are like tanks, you could drive it home after a wreck instead of being killed by airbags and then having no car left.

  15. Hi, I am an Eagle Scout from Daytona Beach, FL and still active in scouts. This list is helpful but I don’t any people my age that can afford a 2011 or later vehicle. All of these tips are valid but stick withing you spending limits. It is cheaper to keep fixing a semi older car(2000-2006) then a car payment. Also one thing BSA didn’t mention was that you should set aside money for repairs and unseen expenses.

    A fellow scout

  16. Why are these cars all so new? In all reality a modern day teen would never get a car this new. You are looking at cars in the 1990s to 2000s that they would get. For everyone looking for a car that is safe, sporty (not considered a sports car), and respondsible you should look into the volvo 850 or volvo s70. If you want a little more kick, you can get it in the turbo model. These come with Traction control, ABS, ESC, and a bunch more safety things; plus they run for ever.

  17. When I get a car, I want a Ford Ranger.

  18. There are cars built prior to 2007 that would also provide an excellent means of transportation.

  19. cars r this guy // October 23, 2012 at 10:59 pm // Reply

    There are no trucks on this list?

  20. My first car was a ’69 Mustang, and I have zero regrets. It may be safe, but it teaches you how to really DRIVE a car, and made me more aware of what was going on. Luckily, I still have it..

  21. Why only one Honda? Hondas are the top safety and low maintenance car along with Toyota!

  22. allaboutcars // October 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm // Reply

    helpful but underpowered cars can be dangerous also turbocharged cars are fine.
    Priuses are bad

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