The 13 Best Cars For Teen Drivers

It’s almost graduation time, which means that lots of parents and recent graduates will be in the market for a dependable car for heading off to college or full-time work. Our cousins with the cool test track at Consumer Reports have come up with their annual list of Best Cars for Teens.

According to the CR car peeps, features you should be looking for include electronic stability control (not to be confused with traction control), antilock brakes, and curtain air bags, as well as good crash-test results.

Here’s more from them:

Stay away from trucks and large SUVs because they tend to have clumsy handling, poor fuel economy, and their high centers of gravity make them more likely to roll over. Sports cars or other especially quick cars are another bad idea, with a higher rate of accidents than other cars and insurance rates to match.

The good news is you can get a safe, reliable used car with those important safety features starting at less than $10,000.

And now, the list:
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

CR includes the Toyota RAV4 [(2006- ) 4-cyl., $13,625-$25,405] on their list with the caveat that they have temporarily suspended their recommendation of the vehicle because of the sticky accelerator issue.

And what about hand-me-down cars?

That’s fine, as long as it is a relatively recent model, with all the latest safety features, rather than a worn-out, low-value clunker.

What do you think of CR’s list? I know my college parking lot was pretty evenly split between relatively new cars like you’d see on this list and duct-taped beaters like the ’71 Chevelle I drove.

2010 Best cars for teen drivers [CR Cars Blog]