Consumer Reports Lists Best Cars for Teen Drivers

Matt Farah
by Matt Farah

Getting a drivers license and a car is possibly the most important milestone in a young persons life. It means freedom, having, a place to call your own, and, most importantly, it has a back seat.

If you’re a parent of a teen, odds are you’ll be buying their first car, or at least funding a large portion of it and insuring it as well. No doubt you want your kid driving a safe, reliable car that has predictable handling characteristics and a small enough engine that the driver won’t be caught running drunk from the cops at 150. Consumer Reports has just released their top recommendations for teens, and surprising to no one, rear-drive cars are completely absent from the list. As is anything with a Turbocharger, Supercharger, or more than 4 Cylinders.

But alas, not all hope is lost. There are some great starter cars in this list. First-generation Acura TSX’s are fun to drive, well-built, and reliable. So is the Mazda3. But the Kia Optima? Come on…. 16 year-old me wouldn’t be caught dead in that.

Parents, take our advice. Allow your child some leeway to buy a fun car, provided it’s affordable and safe, but spend a few hundred bucks on real driver training, such as the Skip Barber Car Control course. Far too few parents take advantage of these opportunities to teach teens how to really handle a car in an emergency, and those few hundred dollars spent on driver training could mean your child’s life.

See the whole list after the jump:

Small cars
Hyundai Elantra SE (2008-present) $11,775-$18,695
Mazda 3 (2007-) $13,025-$19,070
Scion xB (2008-) $14,075-$18,630
Scion xD (2008-) $13,675-$16,620
Subaru Impreza (2008-) non-turbo, $13,700-$19,106
Suzuki SX4 Crossover (2007-) $10,150-$17,519

Family cars
Acura TSX (2004-) $13,725-$29,675
Honda Accord (2008-) 4-cyl., $17,725-$22,795
Kia Optima (2007-) 4-cyl., $9,900-$20,365
Toyota Prius (2004-) $11,750-$22,950
Volkswagen Jetta 2.5 (2006-) $12,825-$22,965

Small SUVs
Honda CR-V (2005- ) $13,300-$25,805
Nissan Rogue (2008- ) $16,550-$25,850
*Toyota RAV4 (2006- ) 4-cyl., $13,625-$25,405

Matt Farah
Matt Farah

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  • Tom Tom on Jul 07, 2010

    This is the most boring list of cars that I have ever seen. None of these have any "sportiness" to them and the cool factor is almost non-existant for all but the xB which still barely rates on the teen meter (its more popular with the 20-something set).

  • Chad Chad on Jul 07, 2010

    Tom, I believe that is the point. Parents are being encouraged to buy the most boring, uncool cars for their kids to make sure they don't drive stupid. But then again, the cheaper the car, the easier it is to justify modding it for more performance.