Teenagers present unique challenges for parents, and we’re not just talking about missed curfews, dating drama, or rebellious attitudes. Teens quite often dwarf their elders, yet on family outings kids usually still end up in the backseats. So for the sake of family togetherness, rear-seat head and leg room should be important. Plus, USB connections remain key as teens’ phones are almost a natural extension of their hands, and cargo space is needed to accommodate everything from backpacks to sports equipment.

But no teen wants to stay in the backseat for long. You’ll want a car that will help your child learn to drive and provide safe transportation once he or she gets a license.

The potential for a teen driving your new car is a reason to make sure it has the latest and greatest in terms of safety features, including forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, to help him stay safe while learning how to drive. 

You'll find specific savings for each model, including other trim variations, on the Consumer Reports car model pages linked below.

Consumer Reports Build & Buy: In addition to car research, ratings, and ranking Consumer Reports offers subscribers access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional cost. Through this service, a nationwide network of about 9,000 participating dealers provide upfront pricing information, as well as a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off MSRP (in most states). The pricing information and guaranteed savings includes eligible incentives. Consumer Reports subscribers have saved an average of $2,954 off MSRP with the Build & Buy Car Buying Service.

Subaru Outback

Best Cars for Families With Teenagers: Subaru Outback

Overall MPG: 24
Price Range: $24,995-$33,395

The Outback is basically a wagon with a raised ride height for light off-road duty and a modicum of SUV-like styling. Somehow this practical, durable, and extremely functional machine matches the Toyota Sienna minivan in terms of second-row head room, an impressive feat achieved courtesy of its tall stance. Its comfortable ride, secure handling, top safety marks, and standard all-wheel drive make it incredibly well-rounded. Cargo capacity is spacious, and the load height is low. We recommend the EyeSight safety suite, which adds forward-collision warning with automatic braking and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. It’s standard on the Touring trim and optional on Premium and Limited Outbacks, and at less than $2,000, it is a bargain for those technologies. The Outback also meets our criteria as a good choice for a teenage driver, if you choose to share it or pass it down.

Read our complete Subaru Outback road test.

Toyota Avalon

Toyota Avalon

Overall MPG: 24
Price Range: $32,650-$41,950

The large Avalon sedan is perfect for hauling around adult passengers. Its roomy cabin managed the best combined score of rear-seat head and leg room of any non-ultra-luxury sedan we’ve tested. Its trunk is expansive and well-suited to stuffing with everything from musical instruments to sports gear. And if fuel efficiency is a priority, Toyota offers a hybrid version that achieves an outstanding 36 mpg overall without much of a compromise to cargo space. The Avalon is also available with Toyota’s Safety Sense-P with forward-collision warning and automatic braking. 

Read our complete Toyota Avalon road test.


Buick Enclave

Buick Enclave

Overall MPG: 15
Price Range: $39,065-$49,515

The well-equipped Enclave is exceptionally roomy, with generous rear leg room and a third row that is large enough for teens. The seats are comfortable, the suspension soaks up bumps nicely, and the quiet cabin makes it an enjoyable long-distance hauler. The 288-hp, 3.6-liter V6 is smooth, but fuel economy is a paltry 15 mpg overall. A redesign is on the horizon, so this could be a good time to snatch an outgoing Enclave at significant savings.

Read the complete Buick Enclave road test.


Ford Flex

Ford Flex

Overall MPG: 18
Price Range: $29,600-$42,600

The three-row Ford Flex has the room of an SUV with the ride height of a sedan. It stands out from the swoopy-styled people movers with its distinct, rectangle-on-wheels styling, which is what makes it amazing at hauling families and their stuff. The Flex rides comfortably and is quiet. Its second-row head room rests head and shoulders above most of its rivals. And though it doesn’t quite match ultra-luxury cars such as the Audi A8 in terms of rear leg room, there’s still ample space in the back for all but the tallest adults. Two V6 engines are available, although neither one is a fuel economy standout.

Read the complete Ford Flex road test.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the November 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

Teen Driving School

Want your teen to become a better driver? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports expert Jen Stockburger explains the driving maneuvers and safety features that will help him or her do it.