We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make smarter financial decisions by providing you with interactive tools and financial calculators, publishing original and objective content, by enabling you to conduct research and compare information for free – so that you can make financial decisions with confidence. The offers that appear on this site are from companies from which TheSimpleDollar.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site including, for example, the order in which they appear. The Simple Dollar does not include all card/financial services companies or all card/financial services offers available in the marketplace. The Simple Dollar has partnerships with issuers including, but not limited to, Capital One, Chase & Discover. View our full advertiser disclosure to learn more.
The Best Cars to Buy for Teen Drivers
When a teenager gets their driver’s license, it can be exciting for the teen and nerve-wracking for their parents. Luckily, many of the fears and concerns parents face can be alleviated by choosing the right vehicle. While most parents would prefer their kids to drive around in an impenetrable tank and most teens would prefer a sports car, there is a happy middle ground that doesn’t drive your car insurance premiums through the roof.
What should a car for a new driver have?
Picking out good cars for teens can be a little tricky when trying to juggle affordability, safety and style. Thankfully, many car providers understand the struggle and have created some of the best cars for teenagers. These cars will have:
- High safety ratings: You can’t go wrong when you start your search with a look at the safest cars for teens. Each of the vehicles listed here received high marks in safety tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Additionally, any cars rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received a four out of five or five out of five-star rating.
- Affordability: While there’s nothing wrong with buying your teenage driver a new car, we focused on getting affordable style and safety with good used cars. Affordability is especially important if your teen is making the purchase themselves.
- Some style: With a little due diligence, you can find good cars for teens that are safe, affordable and earn a checkmark in the style department. While some new drivers might think this is the most important category, it should fall in the line of priority after safety and affordability.
The top 6 cars for new drivers
1. Mazda 3 Sedan or Hatchback (2014 or newer) – Best small car
Priced around $7,000, the Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback is a stylish car with a 5-star safety rating from the IIHS. The car was a 2014 Top Safety Pick + thanks to superior marks in crashworthiness and crash avoidance and mitigation. If you’re looking to take safety to the next level, optional upgrades to shop for include blind-spot detection and lane departure warning, available on newer models. Overall, this 4-door sedan is a top pick on the list of best cars for teenagers.
2. Subaru Outback (2013 or newer) – Best midsize car
If your teen does a lot of sports or plays in a band, they may need some extra cargo space for hauling around gear. The pick for the best midsize car for teens is the Subaru Outback — 2013 or newer. The car is a 2013 Top Safety Pick + with perfect marks in four of the five crashworthiness categories and crash avoidance and mitigation. The Outback received a rating of ‘Acceptable’ for the small overlap front on the driver’s side. If style, cargo space and safety are important factors, the Subaru Outback is a great option averaging used around $8,500.
3. Hyundai Genesis (2016) – Best large car
When your teen wants full-size luxury, the Hyundai Genesis should be on your radar. While more expensive than many of the other options on this list, averaging around $18,000, the 2016 Genesis is a safe and stylish option any new driver would be ecstatic to get behind the wheel of. As a 2016 Top Safety Pick +, the Genesis runs the gamut when it comes to keeping drivers and passengers safe. Again, the price is considerably higher, but the luxury features deliver value.
4. Chevrolet Equinox (2016 or newer) – Best small SUV
The 2016 Chevy Equinox is a fan-favorite when it comes to the best cars for new drivers. For starters, the vehicle gets exceptional safety marks across the board with the IIHS. Averaging a price of around $12,100 for the used model, the car is still relatively affordable. And like all of the other vehicles on this list, the Chevrolet Equinox has a dry braking distance (going from 60 mph down to 0 mph) of 145 feet or less, which can help newer drivers who may have slower reaction times.
5. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (2017–2018) – Best midsize SUV
If you need a vehicle with a little more size than the Chevrolet Equinox, the 2017 and 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a great option to consider. Overall, both year models received great safety marks and clocked in as Top Safety Picks +.
The one thing to be aware of is the headlights on the 2017 model received a poor rating from the IIHS, and the headlights on the 2018 model range from good to poor, depending on the exact model. If your new driver is going to be doing a lot of driving on darker back roads, this might be something to look at when test driving. The average price for these vehicles is around $15,800.
6. Honda Odyssey (2015–2016) – Best minivan
For teens and new drivers planning on hauling friends around, a minivan could be a quality option. The 2015 and 2016 Honda Odyssey is a Top Safety Pick, comes with standard daytime running lights and has optional blind-spot detection and lane-departure warning features. With an average price tag of $12,400, the vehicle is still affordable. Additionally, if your kid is in a band or plays sports, the ability to haul equipment and friends at the same time is a big plus.
How to lower car insurance for a new teen driver
- Adding your teen to your policy: By adding your child to your insurance policy, you may be able to secure a much lower rate than if they were to get a policy on their own.
- Look for training discounts: Some insurance companies give discounts for teens and new drivers who take additional classes and training to increase their knowledge and experience.
- Educate your teen: Insurance is already expensive for teen drivers, but the rates can get much higher if they have accidents or get tickets. The more you can educate your kids on safe driving habits, the better chance they have of keeping their rates low.
- Buy a safe car: One of the factors determining how expensive car insurance can be is the car being driven. The safer and more practical the car your teen buys, the better chance they lave for lower insurance rates. Additionally, less expensive cars are less expensive to insure.