When choosing the best car for your teen driver, keep in mind that a new car is not a good choice. Because of the high risk of being in an accident (even if it is minor) the chances of a new car being beat up are high. You would usually be much better off going with a used car from a recent year that offers a combination of decent performance, reliability, cost-friendly, and safety features.

The following list names some of the popular cars for teens that pass the criteria. Look for a later model that contains the important safety features and that you can afford, not only to purchase but to upkeep as well.

Toyota Camry

Although your teen may find it to be boring, the Toyota Camry has been a dependable vehicle since the early 80s. It is a mid-size car with four cylinders and has good safety ratings. For a car that is a few years old, you will probably pay in the mid to upper teens, and they are reliable and can last for a long time.

Hyundai Sonata

Another mid-size four-door car that is a good choice for your teenager is the Hyundai Sonata. It has a more modern and contemporary look than the Camry and it gets good gas mileage. It also costs a few thousand less than its Toyota and Honda counterparts.


For a car with a little more zip without going over the top, consider the Japanese import Mazda3. Safer and less sporty than the Mazda Miata, the Mazda3 offers a good driving feel while staying under the radar. The most practical choices are the hatchback or sedan.

Volvo S40

When you think of car safety, Volvo should come to the top of your mind as it has been a top safety vehicle for years. Although some Volvos may not look the flashiest, some of the later models have a sleeker look to them. Safety features that set it above others are its airbag technology, frame integrity and blind spot sensors.

Subaru Outback

If you are looking for a four-wheel drive vehicle for your teen to take up into the mountains or deal with poor weather, the Subaru Outback is a solid choice. It is very dependable as well as affordable. The Outback offers lots of room for both passengers and cargo (in the event your teen in involved with sports or other hobbies that take up a lot of space) and is also easy to resell, as there are dedicated fans of the vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz C230

If you have a bit more money to spend and you are a fan of European cars, a Mercedes C230 made in the late 2000’s is a good choice. A Mercedes has dependable safety features and can be sporty while not too fast. Make sure that the vehicle has a complete service history, and you can find a fairly affordable and reliable car at around 60,000 miles.

Ford Escape Hybrid

If your teenager would benefit from an SUV, the Escape Hybrid from Ford is a good option. Unlike many SUVs, this one has a hybrid engine, which means that it gets very good gas mileage, at around 30 mpg on the highway as well as in the city. This SUV also has a much lower chance of rolling in relation to other SUVs.

Worst Types of Vehicles for Teenagers

Although some types of cars are better than others, teenagers should avoid a few general types. A pickup is one type. Pickups tend to have a greater tendency to roll over in the case of an accident or other treacherous driving conditions. Older model SUVs tend to roll easier as well, although some of the newer models have stability control to help prevent rollovers.

Not surprisingly, teenagers should avoid sports cars. Young drivers who are given the opportunity to take a spin tend to drive much faster than in regular cars not to mention the astronomical cost of car insurance. Sports cars also lack some of the safety features and structure that help prevent injury in accidents.

Another type of car to avoid is a subcompact. A subcompact car is smaller and doesn’t have as much metal or other structures in between obstacles and your teen so if there is a collision it can cause more serious injuries.

If you are trying to save money by buying an older, cheap car, you may want to rethink it. They may be cheap but they do not have the same safety features as today’s vehicles such as anti-lock brakes and side air bags. Remember, safety should always be ahead of style when it comes to a teenager’s car.