What Is The Best Car For A Teen Driver In 2024?

Photo: Ford
Photo: Ford

In an ideal world, your kids could take the train or ride their bikes anywhere they want to go, making a car a luxury that they can choose to buy at some point in the future if they get into cars. Unfortunately for everyone, we do not live in a perfect world, so for the vast majority of the U.S., simply getting to work or school requires a car. That also means that at some point, you’re going to have to get your kid a car.

The question is, though, what car should you get them (or help them buy/allow them to buy with their own money)? You could always go with the classic, “Find the cheapest car that still runs and drives,” which saves money, but at the same time, the cheapest car you can find is the cheapest for a reason. It’s not going to be reliable, and it’s not going to be anywhere near as safe as other cars on the road.

Without any real experience, a teen driver is almost guaranteed to crash their first car, so you probably want to get them something with airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control. And considering how many fender benders take place in school parking lots, a backup camera or parking sensors are probably a good idea, too.


So maybe you get them something they can drive for years, like a brand-new Honda Civic. It’ll certainly be safer than the beater they could have gone with, but not many families can afford to drop $25,000 on a new car for their teen, especially if they have more than one child. Plus, insuring it is going to be a lot more expensive because insurance companies also know your kid is almost guaranteed to crash it.

You could also talk to your teen about what they want, but should you? If their answer isn’t, “It’s fine, you can just keep driving me around,” or, “a brand-new Mercedes,” it’ll probably be something terrible like a very reasonably priced 2011 Ford Mustang GT convertible with a rebuilt title. Surely, even as enthusiasts, we can all agree that everyone will better off without a 16-year-old having the keys to a heavily depreciated rear-wheel-drive convertible with 400 horsepower, right?

So do you go with the boring default answer and pick up the nicest Toyota Prius you can find for less than $10,000? Do you maybe go electric and stick them with a used Leaf that can only drive 50 miles on a charge? Should they be allowed to drive anything remotely sporty, such as a 10-year-old Civic Si? What about a Toyota Sienna so you don’t have to rent a moving van when they move out?

Let us know what you think is the best car for a teen driver down in the comments.

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