teenage girl driving

Best First Cars For Teenagers

By Randall Johnson

What are a few things that run through our minds when we think of buying that first car for our teens? Not having to hire one of those lawyers that handle lemon law in San Francisco is one, for sure, and equally as important is getting a vehicle that’s going to be safe for them to drive. So, which options can strike this balance between reliability and safety? That’s what we plan on exploring today, as we take a look at some of the best automobiles for the teenage driver.

The Mazda 3

A starting price of around $18,000 and a better-than-you’d-expect look might be reason enough for some to fancy the Mazda 3. For those looking for more reasons to give this compact a thought, however, It’s packing plenty more punch beneath that exterior.

Automated emergency braking, the Activsense advanced features, and an optional six-speed automatic transmission are just a few of the safety features that you’ll find under the hood of this slick sports car. And beyond the safety features, this is a car that is equal parts fun to drive and easy to control. Sleek and responsive, this car might be just as tempting for a seasoned driving vet as it is for a young teen freshly behind the wheel.

Subaru Impreza

Almost by nature, five-door hatchback designs feel as if they were intended for younger drivers. The Subaru Impreza leans into this common perception, pricing their newer models below $20,000 to make them an even bigger hit with the new-driving crowd (and their parents).  

The ergonomic interior and thrilling suite of infotainment features are a definite plus, but for the safety-minded, there’s even more in store here that will keep you interested. It’s got all-wheel drive, for one, and that’s coupled with some incredible safety ratings that add a feeling of security out on the road. Thanks to its design, the Impreza has minimized blind spots, and like other models on our list, it’s a joy to control when out on the road.

Toyota Corolla

Fuel efficient and reasonably priced. The Toyota Corolla hybrids are sure to spark interest if you’re looking for a ride your first-time driver can enjoy. Beyond the looks (which have been updated to fit a curvier style with a lower stance), the L, LE, and XLE models are packing a zippy 1.8L four-cylinder engine that can get up to speed without being too much for a new driver to handle. Sportier models have a 2.0L engine, which gives them a bit more pop.

And of course, this is all in addition to the Corolla’s fantastic safety features, such as the pre-collision system, departure alert system, steering assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Hyundai Elantra

Last up we have the Hyundai Elantra. If a compact sedan with a quiet interior is what you’re after, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many options that are as good in this incredibly-reasonable price range. It’s nimble on the road, easy to control, and that standard 2.0L four-cylinder engine grants you just enough “get-up-and-go” to tackle highway driving with ease.