Good First Cars: Safe Choices for Teenagers

Searching for good first cars for teenagers may not seem like an easy task, but the current car market takes a fair amount of pain out of the process. Why? Because many of today’s cars are safer than ever, notes nonprofit Consumer Reports.

Thanks to government mandates and market demands, just about every new vehicle, regardless of price or type, comes with a full complement of airbags, anti-lock brakes, and traction and stability control systems. Today’s teens have more safety features available to them than previous generations did. Parents can rest assured knowing that safety is more of a priority than ever for manufacturers.

The three vehicles below offer a great combination of safety, space, and fuel efficiency. And none will break the bank, even when properly equipped.

Ford Focus

The Ford Focus is a popular pick in the compact-car class. Available as a sedan or hatchback with two engine options, a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder for power, as well as three transmissions to choose from and an optional electric-vehicle form. The Focus can achieve up to forty-two miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway, and both the sedan and hatchback versions earned five stars in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) overall crash-testing, which is the top score.

Chevrolet Malibu

The Malibu is a roomy sedan with start/stop technology as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems. Perhaps most attractive to parents will be the Teen Driver system, which mutes the audio of any paired device if those in the front seats aren’t wearing seat belts. It also sends out audio and visual alerts to the driver when the car is traveling faster than predetermined speeds. Additionally, parents can track their teen’s behavior with downloadable stats such as top speed, distance traveled, and use of active safety features. The Malibu gets up to thirty-seven mpg on the highway in nonhybrid form and also earned NHTSA’s top overall crash-test score of five stars.

Honda Civic

Another great buy for teens also comes from the Honda family. It’s a well-known nameplate, and the most recent Honda Civic model just so happens to be the 2016 North American Car of the Year. It’s available as both a coupe and sedan, with a hatch on the way. Depending on engine and transmission, it can get up to forty-one mpg on the highway. Available safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision alert.

Safety Considerations

What separates some vehicles from others is the availability of certain active and passive safety features that aren’t yet standard across the industry. Although features such as a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and various collision-avoidance and collision-mitigation systems are becoming quite common (along with telematics systems that can aid in the event of an accident), they aren’t always available in some less expensive cars that might be purchased for a teen. Additionally, the explosive growth of the crossover SUV, especially in compact and subcompact sizes, gives you even more options when searching for good first cars for your teen.

The goal is to find the right balance between price and safety features before purchasing a vehicle. Buying a car that’s right for a teenager has never been easier thanks to ever-increasing fuel economy and safety standards, but a few options still stand above the rest.