10 Recommended (Affordable/Safe) Cars for Your Teen Driver

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If you’re picking out a vehicle for your teen driver, chances are you’re looking for a safe, reliable vehicle that won’t drain your bank account.

According to Consumer Reports, these are the safety features you should look for when shopping for a car for your teen: electronic stability control, which helps keep vehicles on the road, antilock brakes, traction control, and front, side and curtain air bags.

CR made a list of the top 10 safest used cars for teenage drivers. It recommends midsized or larger sedans. The cars on CR’s list “have to handle well in emergency maneuvers, have good stopping distances (on factory tires), and not be too slow nor too fast,” CR said.

Here is CR’s top 10 list of safe, reliable cars for teens:

  • Chevrolet Malibu (2009-2012, 4 cylinder). Starting at $8,125. “Both the pedals and the steering wheel adjust for reach, which could make the Malibu an especially easy fit for taller or shorter teens,” CR noted.
  • Ford Focus (2009-2011). Starting at $6,050. The Focus has an optional manual transmission, which is great if you want your teen to learn to drive a stick. In addition, “[t]he optional Sync system gives hands-free phone connectivity, but without the fussy and distracting MyFord Touch control system that came later,” CR said.
  • Ford Fusion (2010-2012, 4 cylinder and hybrid). Starting at $8,325. CR said the car is roomy and “the midsized Fusion offers responsive handling and a supple ride, along with Sync Bluetooth connectivity and voice commands.”
  • Hyundai Sonata (2006-2014, 4 cylinder, nonturbo). Starting at $5,450. “A comfortable, quiet and daresay almost luxurious midsized sedan, the 2006-2010 Sonata has a pillowy ride, soft seats and simple controls,” CR said.
  • Kia Soul (2010-2011). Starting at $8,925. The Soul gets great gas mileage, has a look and personality that will likely appeal to teens, plus the safety features parents want.
  • Mazda3 (2011-2013). Starting at $9,825. According to CR, the Mazda3 is “safe, fuel efficient and responsive to drive.”
  • Mazda6i (2009-2013, 4 cylinder). Starting at $8,375. “A long seat cushion and telescoping steering wheel make the 6 a perfect fit for tall teens, and an optional blind-spot monitoring system could be a boon to young drivers,” CR said.
  • Toyota RAV4 (2004-2012, 4 cylinder). Starting at $5,590. Described as a roomy, reliable SUV, the RAV4 gets decent gas mileage, has all-wheel drive and Bluetooth hands-free phone pairing available.
  • Volkswagen Jetta (2009-2010, 4 cylinder). Starting at $7,250. The Jetta has great visibility for the driver, super simple controls, comfortable seats and rides well, CR explained.
  • Volkswagen Rabbit/Golf (2009-2014). Starting at $7,700. The car features a good ride, supportive front seats and agile handling.

I drove a 1992 Suzuki Swift in high school. I loved that car. It was reliable, got great gas mileage and had a great little after-market sound system. I drove that car for nearly seven years before I handed it down to my younger brother.

Do you have a teen driver? What kind of vehicle do they drive? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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