The day has come: Your teenager has shown maturity behind the wheel, and you’ve decided that it’s time for a car of their own. But there’s a lot to consider before picking the best first car for your teen. This advice will put you on the path to an informed purchase.
1. Start with safety.
Teenagers are among the riskiest drivers, so it’s important not to skimp on safety. Features that are particularly helpful for teens include crash protection and avoidance features, such as automatic emergency braking and side-crash prevention systems. Also consider how the size of the car impacts safety. Midsize sedans, for example, offer better crash protection than small cars, and they’re easier to maneuver and tend to have shorter braking distances than most SUVs.
2. Weigh the pros and cons of new and used vehicles.
More than 80% of parents who bought a car for their teens said they bought a used one, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). If you’re thinking of buying used, keep in mind that the money you save on an older car could wind up being spent on repairs and maintenance. Another consideration: The crash-avoidance technologies you want may only be available in newer vehicles.
For specific recommendations, review this information from the IIHS and Consumer Reports, which have released lists of top new and top used vehicles for teens.