The 5 Best First Cars For Your Teen

Buying a car for your teenager? Find out what the five best first cars are for any teen.
By Alison Lakin  

2010 Mazda 3

As hard as it is to find that perfect vehicle for yourself, it’s even harder when shopping for one for your teenager. If your son or daughter is lucky enough to be getting his or her first car so soon after turning the big one-six, then the car you choose has to fit a number of requirements

2010 Ford Mustang

2010 Kia Soul

First off, safety is a priority and so is reliability, but you can’t count out fuel economy, space, comfort and the coolness factor (which, incidentally, is priority number one on their list). Considering afterschool activities and climate is important too. We’ve reviewed J.D. Power’s dependability ratings, total cost of ownership estimates, base price, gas mileage and safety ratings to bring you DriverSide’s top five cars for your teen.  

1. 2010 Mazda 3 - $15,715
The Mazda 3 is an incredible buy for the price. With a full redesign for this model year, the compact car looks even cooler before. The 3 has a low cost of ownership over five years, so you or your teen won’t be saddled with surprise expenses as the car ages. It also has a great crash rating, with five stars for front and side impacts. Gas mileage has improved to 33 mpg on the highway too, so your kid will be able to save up for the latest iPod Nano to plug into the car. 

2. 2010 Kia Soul - $13,300
At first glance, the Kia Soul just looks cool. When you see the sticker price, the Soul gets even cooler. Starting at $13,300, this Kia features a unique exterior design and has teen-centric accessories like an auxiliary mp3 jack. The Soul has standard ABS with brake assist and stability and traction control for added safety and also delivers one of the best powertrain warranties in the industry, at 10 years or 100,000 miles. 

3. 2009 Honda Civic - $15,305
The Honda Civic sports one of the lowest costs of ownership totals in its category. Whether it’s you or your teen paying for things like gas and maintenance, you know that the car won’t cost a fortune to keep up. J.D. Power also rates the Civic’s initial dependability higher than average in most categories. Time spent away from the dealership means more time for homework. Though, only one of you will be happy about that. 

4. 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X - $20,295
Some parents feel that an SUV is the safest car for their kid to drive. A quick look at the crash ratings can tell you that’s not always the case. However, when it comes to the Subaru Forester, you’d be more than right. The Forester gets five-star ratings for almost every crash test, and its standard all-wheel drive keeps the four wheels firmly on the ground. The Forester’s low mpgs and tons of space are as perfect for jetting to school in the morning as they are for summer road trips to the lake. 

5. 2010 Ford Mustang - $20,995
We know what you’re thinking – we’ve been paid off by your kid to say that the Mustang is the perfect teen car. But seriously, if you trust your teen with the responsibility of a low-slung, V-6-powered two-door, then this is the one to get them. The pony has stellar crash ratings and great mileage – 26 on the highway – and J.D. Power has rated initial quality above average as well. See? That $20 deposit in our bank account had nothing to do with anyone in your household, we swear.


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