7 Best Cars Suited For Young and New Drivers

7 Best Cars Suited For Young and New Drivers

If you're the parent of a teen, especially a teen that drives, you probably have a few concerns about them and what they're doing when they're on the road. 

You want to know that they're safe and that they're keeping others safe, too. On top of that, you hope they're driving responsibly because good first cars can be expensive to replace if anything goes wrong. Really expensive, with the current pandemic-related supply crunch, so perhaps buying new isn't in the cards right now. 

But what about buying used?

Options abound out there, so it's important to remember that reliability, ease-of-handling, and excellent safety features are key factors when shopping, especially since studies show teenagers are four times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Fortunately, you don't need to break the bank to keep your kids safe, and if you choose the right car, it can lower your long-term costs when it comes to repairs, insurance premiums, and gas mileage. At Shift, used vehicles help this process by offering the best-in-class service contracts at a fair price, without the sales pressure of a dealership lot. You can also shop online at your convenience, and by buying through Shift, you can get the price of a used car while receiving the protection of a new car purchase.

Below, we've put together a list of the best used cars for teens, using the metrics set forth by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a guide. 

To be included on this list, each car must have a four- or five-star safety rating by the NHTSA, low insurance claim rates for the target demographic, and a high safety rating by the IIHS when it comes to collision tests.

Our list also excludes vehicles that may encourage reckless driving or those that would be difficult to handle for new drivers, such as sports cars and oversized vehicles that are tricky to maneuver in a tight spot.

Now that the fine print is out of the way, let's dive in and look at some popular teenage cars.

No items found.

Honda Accord

Honda Accord

The Honda Accord is one of the most widely recommended and safest used car options for beginners. With the coupe and sedan versions cashing in as the IIHS’s top safety picks for 2013, it is the perfect starter vehicle with a small, maneuverable size.

Featuring a beautiful, sleek frame that is about as trendy-looking as a starter vehicle can get, the Honda Accord is the perfect marriage between parental concerns and a teenager’s desire for a winning ride. The current model includes 192 hp for the base model, a 10-speed automatic transmission for the uplevel, and 47 mpg for the hybrid. 

Responsive handling enables easy driving, and forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking come standard in each vehicle.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test DrivesButton Text
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Honda Accord
Honda Accord

The Honda Accord is one of the most widely recommended and safest used car options for beginners. With the coupe and sedan versions cashing in as the IIHS’s top safety picks for 2013, it is the perfect starter vehicle with a small, maneuverable size.

Featuring a beautiful, sleek frame that is about as trendy-looking as a starter vehicle can get, the Honda Accord is the perfect marriage between parental concerns and a teenager’s desire for a winning ride. The current model includes 192 hp for the base model, a 10-speed automatic transmission for the uplevel, and 47 mpg for the hybrid. 

Responsive handling enables easy driving, and forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking come standard in each vehicle.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Honda Accord

Toyota RAV4

Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is a fantastic SUV that has a leg up on its competitors for the simple fact that it entered the crossover market earlier than most others. As a domestic bestseller that pops up on every road, this vehicle deserves its accolades. Why? Because it’s one of the safest cars out there. 

Additionally, its economical 27 mpg gets you far on a budget, and its roomy interior means that it can double as your family car, too. The Toyota RAV4 model includes responsive handling, especially around corners, and an all-wheel-drive, with built-in forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. The 2015 model was the IIHS’s top safety pick.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test DrivesButton Text
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Toyota RAV4
Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is a fantastic SUV that has a leg up on its competitors for the simple fact that it entered the crossover market earlier than most others. As a domestic bestseller that pops up on every road, this vehicle deserves its accolades. Why? Because it’s one of the safest cars out there. 

Additionally, its economical 27 mpg gets you far on a budget, and its roomy interior means that it can double as your family car, too. The Toyota RAV4 model includes responsive handling, especially around corners, and an all-wheel-drive, with built-in forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. The 2015 model was the IIHS’s top safety pick.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Toyota RAV4

Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 is a small four-door SUV that packs a big punch: big enough to be considered a direct competitor to the Toyota RAV4. First introduced in 2012, it has built up a winning reputation for its responsive handling, steadiness on the road, overall reliability, and decent fuel economy. It’s also one of the best-used cars for teens that you can buy from Shift.

The current model of the Mazda CX-5 has 24 mpg with a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard models included forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. In 2014, the Mazda CX-5 was one of the IIHS’s top safety picks, so those earlier models are still some of the safest used cars out there.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test DrivesButton Text
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Mazda CX-5
Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 is a small four-door SUV that packs a big punch: big enough to be considered a direct competitor to the Toyota RAV4. First introduced in 2012, it has built up a winning reputation for its responsive handling, steadiness on the road, overall reliability, and decent fuel economy. It’s also one of the best-used cars for teens that you can buy from Shift.

The current model of the Mazda CX-5 has 24 mpg with a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard models included forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. In 2014, the Mazda CX-5 was one of the IIHS’s top safety picks, so those earlier models are still some of the safest used cars out there.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Mazda CX-5

Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V

The second Honda to rank on this list is the Honda CR-V, which has built itself a reputation as a reliable starter vehicle with easy handling.

Featuring 28 mpg, 190 hp, and standardized forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, the current model of this compact vehicle is perfect for a broad range of purposes, be it the car your kid drives to the family bus for the beach. Earlier CR-V models such as the 2015 edition are not to be overlooked, given its IIHS safety awards. 

Best of all, the CR-V’s popularity as a starter vehicle means that it has high resale value.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test DrivesButton Text
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Honda CR-V
Honda CR-V

The second Honda to rank on this list is the Honda CR-V, which has built itself a reputation as a reliable starter vehicle with easy handling.

Featuring 28 mpg, 190 hp, and standardized forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, the current model of this compact vehicle is perfect for a broad range of purposes, be it the car your kid drives to the family bus for the beach. Earlier CR-V models such as the 2015 edition are not to be overlooked, given its IIHS safety awards. 

Best of all, the CR-V’s popularity as a starter vehicle means that it has high resale value.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Honda CR-V

Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is precisely the kind of vehicle you would expect from the rugged name: dependable, stable, superb for long trips, and an excellent alternative to a standard SUV. If your new driver craves the idea of independence, but you crave reliability, it’s a good compromise. 

In short, you can’t go wrong with this vehicle, and it’s one of the best cars for teens.

The Subaru features responsive handling, all-wheel drive, and standard forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, making driving in iffy weather that much easier. Its four-door entry and spacious cabin also mean that it can double as the family’s favorite method of transportation.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test DrivesButton Text
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Subaru Outback
Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is precisely the kind of vehicle you would expect from the rugged name: dependable, stable, superb for long trips, and an excellent alternative to a standard SUV. If your new driver craves the idea of independence, but you crave reliability, it’s a good compromise. 

In short, you can’t go wrong with this vehicle, and it’s one of the best cars for teens.

The Subaru features responsive handling, all-wheel drive, and standard forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, making driving in iffy weather that much easier. Its four-door entry and spacious cabin also mean that it can double as the family’s favorite method of transportation.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Subaru Outback

Honda HR-V

Honda HR-V

Also on our list is the Honda HR-V, whose name admittedly sounds similar to the Honda CV-R.

Confusion over car names aside, the HR-V has comparable safety ratings to other members of the Honda family and is usually the less expensive option, making it the king of cheap cars for teens (or their parents who are car shopping for them).

Small and compact with flip-down rear seats to make room for additional cargo space, the current HR-V features a 141-horsepower engine that achieves 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The four-door entry means easy access to the car interior, and possible additions to the standard model include a sunroof and heated seats.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test DrivesButton Text
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Honda HR-V
Honda HR-V

Also on our list is the Honda HR-V, whose name admittedly sounds similar to the Honda CV-R.

Confusion over car names aside, the HR-V has comparable safety ratings to other members of the Honda family and is usually the less expensive option, making it the king of cheap cars for teens (or their parents who are car shopping for them).

Small and compact with flip-down rear seats to make room for additional cargo space, the current HR-V features a 141-horsepower engine that achieves 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The four-door entry means easy access to the car interior, and possible additions to the standard model include a sunroof and heated seats.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Honda HR-V

Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester

Last but not least is the Subaru Forester: a small, popular SUV that has been winning hearts and minds for many a year, thanks to its simple controls and responsive steering.

Safety has always been a top feature for Subaru, making the all-wheel-drive Forester an ideal option for teen drivers. Winning components of the current model include a standard fuel efficiency of 28 mpg, a forward-collision warning system, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. 

The AWD Subaru Forester’s lauded road traction means that it is suitable for adverse weather conditions, too.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test DrivesButton Text
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Subaru Forester
Subaru Forester

Last but not least is the Subaru Forester: a small, popular SUV that has been winning hearts and minds for many a year, thanks to its simple controls and responsive steering.

Safety has always been a top feature for Subaru, making the all-wheel-drive Forester an ideal option for teen drivers. Winning components of the current model include a standard fuel efficiency of 28 mpg, a forward-collision warning system, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. 

The AWD Subaru Forester’s lauded road traction means that it is suitable for adverse weather conditions, too.

30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Subaru Forester

Find Good First Cars with Shift

Cars – like kids – are a huge responsibility on multiple levels. A good car can save you money and take you places, and when you're shopping for a new driver in your life, you want to make sure that your loved ones arrive safe and sound by looking for vehicles that are as cost-effective as they are reliable. 

You'll want to make sure there are no outstanding recalls or safety concerns before you buy, too. 

If you're not searching for a new driver, however – and you're simply looking for affordable cars that don't sacrifice quality in the process – then check out this additional list of cheapest cars to buy in 2021.

No items found.

No items found.

No items found.

No items found.

No items found.

Author
Shift Editorial Team