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The 6 Best First Cars for Teenagers

Teenager Having Driving Lesson With Female Instructor

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Now that your teenager has their driver’s license, it’s time to look for a new or pre-owned vehicle for them to drive. Teenage drivers are risky drivers because of a combination of inexperience, immaturity, and social pressures. Therefore, you’ll want to choose a car that has plenty of safety features with high reliability ratings. Please keep in mind that some vehicles manufactured before 2013 won’t have anti-lock brakes, traction control, or stability control.

Read on to explore certain features that you really want in your teenager’s first car and review a list of suggested vehicles.

Features To Look For in Your Teenager’s First Car

While young drivers may want a hot rod, souped-up pickup truck, or vintage car, these types of vehicles might not be suitable for your teenager’s first car. You should always prioritize safety and reliability over style and design. This doesn’t mean that safe cars aren’t attractive. It’s important to find the perfect balance of safety, reliability, and style. Here are a few key features to look for when shopping for a car for your new driver:

Safety and Driver-Assist Systems

Along with anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control, look for cars that come equipped with standard safety features like forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Chevrolet, for instance, equips nearly all its models and trims with the Teen Driver and Buckle to Drive suite of features. These technology features let you set volume and speed controls and receive a performance report. If the car is in Teen Driver mode and they haven’t buckled up, they won’t be able to shift the car into gear. Other driver-assist features to look for include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and a lane departure warning.


You want to know that your teenager won’t get stuck on the side of the road, so it’s crucial to research vehicles that have a high-reliability rating like Toyota, Honda, Mazda, and Hyundai. If these brands are a little bit out of your price range, consider shopping for a certified pre-owned vehicle.


While driving, teenagers enjoy listening to music, charging their mobile devices, and using navigation features to help them get to their destination. Many newer cars have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. These features allow drivers to listen to their favorite playlists, use hands-free calling, and access navigation apps on their smartphones.

Some newer cars come with technology features like a wireless charging device, extra USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hot spot that can help keep your teenager’s devices charged and let them stay connected. In addition, select vehicles come with apps that help your teen remotely start the car, adjust the temperature, and help find their parked car.

The 6 Best First Cars for Teenagers

To help you navigate through the number of vehicles available, we’ve made this list of the best first cars for teenagers based on vehicle class.

Compact Cars

These compact cars are perfect for city driving, cruising back and forth to school, and parking in challenging spots:

Toyota Corolla Hybrid

If you’re looking for a fuel-efficient compact car for your teenager, the four-door Toyota Corolla Hybrid is a good choice. This car gets about 53 mpg in the city and 52 mpg on the highway. Toyota’s voice-activated controls make accessing the infotainment system a breeze.

Hyundai Elantra

Teenagers will enjoy driving the Hyundai Elantra with its sporty good looks and high-tech features. This four-door sedan can fit up to five people and has 14.2 cubic feet of storage space in the trunk. Technology features include smartphone connectivity, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and the available wireless charging device.

Midsize Cars

If your teenager needs more room for carpooling to school or carrying sporting equipment, consider either of these two cars:

Honda Accord

Honda has long had an outstanding reputation for reliability. If your teenager wants a larger car, consider the Honda Accord. This midsize sedan has flexible seating configurations so they can carry larger items like a painting easel, a camera tripod, or golf clubs. The Honda Accord also comes equipped with Honda Sensing, a suite of driver-assist features like a frontal collision mitigation system, adaptive cruise control, and front and rear parking sensors.

Volkswagen Jetta

The Volkswagen Jetta is a stylish car that’s fun to drive and comes with plenty of standard safety and technology features to please you and your teenager. This sedan comes with lots of storage spaces in the cabin that are perfect for personal items and water bottles. Volkswagen has equipped the Jetta with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity along with Volkswagen’s Car-Net mobile app for remote functions.

Compact SUVs

SUVs are ideal for carrying anything from sports equipment to school supplies. The compact SUV market is very popular, and for good reason. Many small SUVs come with all-wheel drive for better traction, flexible seating solutions to increase cargo space, and good driver visibility. Compact SUVs are the ideal size for your teenager’s first car, and these two have exceptional features:

Chevrolet Trailblazer

This compact SUV has two rows of seats that can fit up to five people, and depending on the seating configuration, the Trailblazer can get up to 54.4 cubic feet of storage space. You can get the Trailblazer with all-wheel drive for extra traction on slippery roads.

Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 has a great suspension system that makes handling this small SUV easy for new drivers. All-wheel drive comes standard on the new CX-5, and the design of this SUV gives drivers clear visibility through the windshield. Your teenager will also have access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and voice-activated controls.

Choosing a first car for your teenager requires some research to ensure their vehicle has the features to keep them safe, comes with communication and navigation devices, and is one they’ll enjoy driving. You’ll want to have the best insurance coverage for your teenage driver, so research the best auto insurance companies to help you get the best rates and features for your teen.

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.


About the Author

FIXD Research Team

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

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