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—often born of 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 their 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. The agency reports that in 2017, a total of 1,830 young drivers (15- to 20-year-olds) and 979 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by young drivers, and 47 percent of drivers who died 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 selecting a model that’s well-suited for inexperienced drivers.

Generally speaking, bigger and heavier vehicles do better in crash tests. But very large vehicles can be difficult for inexperienced drivers to handle and take longer to bring to a stop, and they return poor fuel economy. 

Sports cars are also a poor choice for young drivers. They beg to be driven fast, and they have a higher rate of accidents than other cars. Consequently, they often carry higher insurance premiums. Because of all that, they’re 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 will allow. Specifically, features such as forward collision warningautomatic emergency braking, and blind spot warning have been shown to provide real-world safety benefits in avoiding crashes. CR strongly recommends them.

For this list, we avoided cars with 0-to-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 that it meets our stringent standards for test performance, reliability, and safety.

All the vehicles listed below are either 2019 or 2020 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