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Best Car for Teens

Friday, April 9th, 2010

This question is often asked from one parent to another. “What is the best car I can get for my teenager?”

Parents and teenagers have completely different objectives when choosing a car. Generally a male teenager will want a car that looks good, fast, has room for friends, and girls will opt for a “cute” car instead of caring for speed. The first thing the parent will consider is the car’s safety, then cost and then reliability. Parents will want to buy something that is safe, cheap and fairly reliable with low maintenance costs and cheap auto insurance.

Here are some popular cars for teenagers:

Honda Civic – This is the most popular car among teens — and parents. This car has almost all of the qualities desired by both teens and parents: economy, style, safety, reliability, performance, low insurance rates, good size for passengers, and driving comfort. There are tons of accessories, custom appearance products, and performance options for the Honda Civic. Base price for a new Civic is about $14,500. The new re-styled model has won Motor Trend magazine’s “Car of the Year” award and is a Consumer Reports Magazine Top Pick award. Honda also produces a fuel-efficient hybrid version of this vehicle, at a slightly higher cost. Used models of the Honda Civic are readily available, reliable, and hold their value very well. For a car with similar qualities, but larger with more interior room, consider the Honda Accord

Scion – Toyota has created a line of popular vehicles that specifically targets young drivers. The Scion is full of standard features, and optional features, that appeal to teens, is relatively inexpensive, and has a good-performing and fuel-efficient engine. It also has some great safety options such as side air bags. Although not outstanding performers, and ride comfort is lacking, these are typical Toyota high-quality vehicles at base prices that start at about $15,570 for the xB, $14,650 for the xD, and $16,000 for the tC. The economical xA model is no longer made, but is available as a used car.

Honda Fit – This small 4-door hatchback is a winning combination of Honda reliability, comfort, interior space, features, and safety equipment — and a whopping 34 miles per gallon of gas on the highway. It’s a fun car that also will haul a teenager’s stuff — and lots of it. It is also safe and relatively cheap to insure and maintain.

Toyota Corolla – This Toyota vehicle shares many of the characteristics of the Honda Civic and is a favorite among teenagers as both a new and used vehicle. It’s reliable, with good performance, has plenty of room inside, and there are many options from after-market companies for styling and performance improvements. Buyers of this vehicle, and others in our list, should consider getting the stability control option when available. It’s one of the most effective safety features being offered on cars today. The Corolla is priced at about $13,700 for base models. If the Corolla is not quite large enough, look at the Toyota Camry, one the best-selling cars in America for the last few years.

Nissan Sentra -This is a sensible car for teens, having many of the attributes of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, but a little less style. It’s comfortable, but with a harsh ride and little room in the rear seat. However, it gets good gas mileage, is reliable, enjoys relatively low insurance rates, and is priced at about $12,700. Used models can be found at good prices.

Mitsubishi Lancer – This is a very popular vehicle with teens, especially the turbo-charged Evolution, although it might not be the first choice of parents. It’s stylish and looks cool, besides being a super performer. There are lots of add-ons and custom equipment for this vehicle. It even has it’s own magazine aimed at young drivers of this vehicle. Watch out for reliability problems and higher insurance costs. The Lancer starts at about $14,300 for the basic model.

Ford Focus – This is a fun and sporty car that teenagers like. It has a firm but comfortable ride and a number of engine options. Interior material quality appears cheap but functional. There are no less than 12 different variations of this model that should allow almost any teen to be satisfied. Prices start at about $13,300 for base models. Ford’s reliability has improved dramatically in the last few years. You can’t go wrong with this nice little car.

Mazda3 – This vehicle is an excellent small car with good interior space, good performance, and good quality. It comes in both a hatchback and sedan and starts at about $13,700. New models are very stylish and youth-oriented. Prices for used Mazdas are very reasonable.

If cost is not a big factor, here are some nicer and safer cars for a teenager.

BMW 3-Series – This is one of the most popular of all sporty luxury cars, for a good reason. It’s fun to drive, is a great performer, and fuel economy is good — and it looks good, as a “bimmer” should. It’s available as a coupe, sedan, or a convertible. Used models are available for good prices.

Mercedes C-Class – This is a popular small sports sedan with young people who like a car that’s fun to drive and exudes luxury and class. It’s comfortable, roomy, and handles well on the street or highway. It also enjoys a good safety rating and is relatively economical to own.

Acura TL – This car is consistently rated very high as having the best blend of all characteristics that one would want in a car. It mixes luxury features with comfort, performance, handling, and sportiness. It’s one of the most reliable models on the road.

Audi A4 – This vehicle is available as a sedan and convertible. It is luxurious and stylish with excellent driving characteristics. A wide range of features, options, and transmission choices are available. Crash-test results are impressive. Reliability is average.

Lexus IS – It’s a Lexus with all the quality and luxury that Lexus offers, but it’s not the Lexus that grandfather drives. It is a small safe sports sedan that has the performance, looks, and comfort that young people enjoy. A high-performance V8 version is available but watch out for high insurance rates.