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Best New Cars for Teens

CR picks safe, reliable models that are well-suited for young drivers

Best New Cars for Teens

Parents choosing a car for their teen driver have a tough decision to make, primarily because it involves striking a balance between cost and safety.

The temptation—and often the necessity—is to buy a cheap, bare-bones model or to pass down an older family car. But because the car will be transporting their children, parents want to pick the best and safest car the budget allows. (See our list of the best used cars for teens.)

More on Car Buying

Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency reports, "In 2016, a total of 818 teen (15- to 18-year-old) drivers and 569 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers, and 58 percent of those passengers were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash."

Parents should start by selecting a car with a solid reliability track record and excellent safety marks. We suggest they go further and pick a model that's well-suited for inexperienced drivers.

Generally speaking, bigger and heavier vehicles perform better in crash tests. But very large vehicles can be hard for inexperienced drivers to handle, and they return poor fuel economy. In addition, they can hold lots of passengers, potentially a major distraction that increases a young driver’s risk of crashing. That's why there aren't any minivans, large SUVs, or pickup trucks on this list.

Sports cars are also a poor choice for young drivers. They beg to be driven too fast and have a higher rate of accidents than other cars. Consequently, they often carry higher insurance premiums. Because of all that, they are also not on our list.

New models generally offer more safety features and provide better crash protection. Parents should try to buy the best safety equipment their budget allows. Specifically, features such as forward-collision warning (FCW) and automatic emergency braking (AEB) have been shown to provide real-world safety benefits in avoiding crashes. CR strongly recommends these features.

For this list, we avoided cars with 0-60 mph acceleration times faster than 7.5 seconds or slower than 11 seconds, those with braking distances longer than 145 feet in dry conditions, and those with mediocre or worse emergency-handling scores.

Each car we chose carries a Consumer Reports recommendation, meaning it meets our stringent standards for test performance, reliability, and safety.

All of the vehicles listed below are 2019 models. 

For complete road tests, reliability, owner satisfaction, pricing, and much more, click on the model names below.

2019 Honda Accord: a good choice for teen drivers.
2019 Honda Accord