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Best Cars For Teens: Get Your Child In a Safe, Stylish Car Today

Parents choosing a car for their teen driver have a tough decision to make, primarily because it involves striking a balance between cost and safety. The temptation—and often the necessity—is to buy a cheap, bare-bones model or to pass down an older family car. But because the car will be transporting their children, parents want to pick the best and safest car the budget allows. Here is a list and rundown of the best cars for teens. See also, CR’s list of the best used cars for teens.)

Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 14- to 18-year-olds. In fact, almost half of teens involved in a car crash die, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Parents should start by selecting a car with a solid reliability track record and excellent safety marks. We suggest they go further and pick a model that’s well-suited for inexperienced drivers.

Consumer Reports, which tests about 60 cars a year at our Connecticut test track, offers expert advice on which vehicles parents should consider.

Generally speaking, bigger and heavier vehicles perform better in crash tests. But very large vehicles can be hard for inexperienced drivers to handle, and they return poor fuel economy. In addition, they can hold lots of passengers, proven in studies to be a major distraction that increases a young driver’s risk of crashing. That’s why there aren’t any minivans, large SUVs, or pickup trucks on this list.

Sports cars are also a poor choice for young drivers. They beg to be driven too fast and have a higher rate of accidents than other cars. Consequently, they often carry higher insurance premiums.

New models generally offer more safety features and provide better crash protection. Parents should try to buy the best safety equipment their budget allows. Specifically, features such as forward-collision warning (FCW) and automatic emergency braking (AEB) have been shown to provide real-world safety benefits in avoiding crashes. CR strongly recommends these features.

For this list, we avoided cars with 0-60 mph acceleration times faster than 7.5 seconds or slower than 11 seconds, those with braking distances longer than 145 feet in dry conditions, and those with mediocre or worse emergency-handling scores.

Each car we chose carries a Consumer Reports recommendation, meaning it meets our stringent standards for test performance, reliability, and safety.

All of the vehicles listed below are 2018 models.

For complete road tests, reliability, owner satisfaction, pricing, and much more, click on the model names below.

2018 Honda CR-V - A good choice for teen drivers
2018 Honda CR-V
Chevrolet Sonic $15,145 – $21,215
Ford Edge $28,950 – $40,900
Ford Escape $23,750 – $31,000
Ford Fusion (4 cyl.) $22,610 – $41,120
Honda Accord (4 cyl., nonturbo) $23,570 – $35,800
Honda CR-V $24,150 – $34,050
Honda Fit $16,190 – $21,520
Honda HR-V $19,570 – $26,340
Hyundai Elantra $16,950 – $22,900
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport $24,950 – $37,200
Hyundai Sonata (nonturbo) $22,050 – $32,450
Kia Forte $16,600 – $21,300
Kia Niro $22,890 – $29,650
Kia Optima (nonturbo) $22,500 – $36,090
Kia Soul $16,100 – $35,950
Kia Sportage (nonturbo) $23,200 – $34,200
Mazda 3 $17,845 – $24,945
Mazda 6 $21,945 – $30,695
Mazda CX-3 $19,960 – $26,240
Mazda CX-5 $24,045 – $30,695
Nissan Altima (4-cyl.) $23,260 – $33,630
Nissan Rogue $24,800 – $32,530
Nissan Rogue Sport $21,640 – $27,640
Subaru Crosstrek $21,795 – $26,295
Subaru Forester $22,795 – $36,090
Subaru Legacy (4 cyl.) $22,195 – $31,945
Subaru Outback (4 cyl.) $25,895 – $38,690
Toyota Camry (4 cyl.) $23,495 – $34,950
Toyota Corolla $18,550 – $22,730
Toyota Corolla iM $18,750 – $19,490
Toyota Prius $23,475 – $30,015
Toyota Prius Prime $27,100 – $33,100
Toyota RAV4 $24,410 – $36,150
Toyota Yaris iA $15,950 – $17,050
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack $25,850 – $32,890
Volkswagen Passat (4 cyl.) $22,440 – $33,995

The above report was first shared on Consumer Reports.

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