What’s the best car to get your new teen driver?

Is your teenager ready for their first car? Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are out with their 2023 list for best cars for young drivers.

Unfortunately, crashes sometimes happen. “And we think that parents should want their kids to be well protected in that eventuality,” said David Zuby, the chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Overall, traffic deaths rose over the last few years after decades of declines. Teen road deaths have followed the same pattern, increasing 11% in 2021. Over 3,000 teens died that year.

The list of best cars for teens focuses on used cars at different price points with above-average reliability, better than average stopping distance and better than average handling.

For 2023 models, they focus on top safety picks.

Most vehicles range from small cars to mid-size SUVs. One truck also makes the list. But you’ll find no micro cars on this list.

“We think it’s important that people not put their youngest drivers in the smallest cars. Small cars, by their nature of being small, do not offer as much crash protection. And teen drivers have some of the highest crash rates of any drivers on the road,” said Zuby.

Larger trucks and SUVs are left off the list because while they offer more protection, they’re harder to maneuver, have longer break distances and “in the unfortunate circumstances of hitting a pedestrian, they do much more damage.”

One piece of advice: Zuby said for parents whose kids aren’t quite of driving age, if they’re in the market for a car themselves, they might think of choosing a car with a high level of safety that they can hand down.

“We think that’s a good strategy for helping young drivers get vehicles that aren’t too old and have some of the latest safety features,” said Zuby.

The full list of cars is below:

Best Used-Car Choices for Teens

Model (year range) Starting price
SMALL CARS
Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback (2014-20; built after October 2013) $9,100
Ford C-Max Hybrid (2014-16) $10,000
Toyota Prius (2014; built after November 2013) $12,900
Subaru Impreza sedan or wagon (2018, 2022) $14,500
MIDSIZED CARS
Subaru Legacy (2013-21; built after August 2012) $7,800
Mazda 6 (2014-18) $10,200
Toyota Prius V (2015-17) $14,500
Volkswagen Passat (2017) $14,500
BMW 3 Series (2017 or newer; built after November 2016) $16,500
LARGE CARS
Toyota Avalon (2015 or newer) $14,600
Hyundai Genesis (2016) $18,000
SMALL SUVS
Volvo XC60 (2013, 2017) $9,600
Mazda CX-5 (2014 or newer; built after October 2013) $11,800
Mazda CX-3 (2016, 2019) $13,900
Honda CR-V (2015 or newer) $15,200
Honda HR-V (2017 or newer; built after March 2017) $16,000
Toyota RAV4 (2015 or newer; built after November 2014) $16,100
Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid (2018) $18,900
Subaru Forester (2018 or newer) $20,000
MIDSIZED SUVS
Subaru Outback (2015-18, 2022) $12,200
Nissan Murano (2015 or newer) $12,400
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (2018) $15,700
Toyota Highlander (2014 or newer) $17,100
Acura RDX (2016 or newer) $19,300
MINIVAN
Toyota Sienna (2015-20) $15,700
PICKUP TRUCK
Toyota Tacoma extended cab or crew cab (2016 or newer) $17,900
Make & Model Price
SMALL CAR
Mazda 3 $23,000
MIDSIZED CAR
Subaru Legacy $25,100
SMALL SUVS
Honda HR-V $24,400
Subaru Forester $27,700
Mazda CX-5 $27,800
Mazda CX-50 $28,900
Toyota RAV4 $29,300
Honda CR-V $29,700
Lexus UX $36,000
Lexus NX $39,800
MIDSIZED SUVS
Subaru Outback $29,300
Subaru Ascent $34,600
Hyundai Palisade $36,600
Toyota Highlander $37,100
Mazda CX-9 $38,300
MINIVAN
Honda Odyssey $38,100

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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