This post may include affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we'll receive a commission at no extra cost to you. This support helps us maintain and grow our site. Thank you for your support!

Choosing the best car for teenagers is not easy. After all, parents have to strike a balance between cost and the safety of their teen drivers.

Not everyone has the budget for a new car. However, the increase in smart technologies used in various cars today will surely keep your kids safe and sound. Vehicle safety is prone to changes over time, which means that a car that wasn’t much popular in the past may be the best choice for your teen driver today.

Some of the best cars for teenagers include the Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta, Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, and Subaru Impreza.

The car’s driver assistance features, reliability, and crash test ratings are essential features that parents should look for, although teens might be more interested in a vehicle’s infotainment system and looks. Fortunately, dependability and safety take priority because parents are the ones who are most likely to purchase the vehicles for their young drivers.

We understand that choosing the best car for teenagers can be overwhelming, especially because many options are available. Luckily, our team of experts and car enthusiasts has compiled a list of the top cars for teenage drivers to make the process easier for you. So let’s get right to it!

Table of Contents

Best Car for Teenagers – The Ultimate List

Mazda 3 2018

The 2018 Mazda 3’s compact size makes it easy to maneuver through traffic and convenient to park, whether at a grocery store or in congested urban metropolitan regions. Teens and rookie drivers will like the included six-speed manual transmission, which allows them to acquire a crucial skill while having fun. A six-speed automatic transmission is available for individuals who prefer the Mazda 3 to do the shifting for them. In either case, if you’re used to riding public transportation or using a rideshare service, getting behind the wheel of this car can give you a sense of confidence and control.

The following features come standard on the 2018 Mazda 3:

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Touch screen display
  • Rearview mirror cam
  • Audio system with six speakers


The 2018 Mazda 3 received an overall five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (out of a possible five stars). It also achieved a “good” rating in all IIHS crash tests and an “average” rating in the headlights test, where “good” is the maximum score. It also received a “superior” rating in the front crash prevention evaluation after avoiding collisions at 12 and 25 mph speeds. “Superior” is the highest possible rating. The 2018 Mazda 3 received a “Top Safety Choice” award and a certification from the IIHS.

All 2018 Mazda 3 cars come standard with automatic emergency brakes and front collision warning. The package includes additional driver-assist technologies such as high beam assist, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot warning in the Grand Touring level.

2019 Hyundai Elantra

Drivers of various ages and experience levels may discover a Hyundai Elantra that fits their needs in the 2017-2019 models. The Elantra is offered in sedan and hatchback body types and several variants from the fuel-efficient 2017-2018 Eco to the energetic 2019 GT N Line. In 2017, a wholly redesigned Elantra sedan was introduced, followed by a cosmetically revised model in 2019. The eco sedan’s frugality, which earns an EPA-estimated 35 combined mpg with its turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder power train, may appeal to new drivers. Even the performance-oriented 2019 GT N Line with a turbocharged 1.6L engine achieves an EPA-estimated 32 mpg on the interstate while providing 201 horsepower. The following are some of the features included in the 2019 Hyundai Elantra:

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Rearview mirror cam
  • Audio system with six speakers and USB port
  • Split-folding 60/40 rear seat


The NHTSA gave the 2019 Elantra GT hatchback and Hyundai Elantra sedan a four-star overall grade (out of five stars). After scoring “good” in all crashworthiness tests and the headlights when fitted with the optional LED lights, got the 2019 IIHS “Top Safety Pick Plus” designation. However, the standard halogen headlights were rated as “poor.” The Hyundai Elantra car received a “superior” rating in the vehicle-to-vehicle impact and an “advanced” rating in the vehicle-to-pedestrian impact in the front crash prevention test. The Elantra GT hatchback received identical scores as the sedan. However, its LED headlights are only given an “acceptable” rating when installed with automatic high beams, lowering its IIHS rating.

Rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot tracking are only available on the lowest version of the Hyundai Elantra GT hatchback. The optional Sport Tech package on the GT N-Line with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic includes automatic emergency braking, driver attentiveness alert, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, pedestrian recognition, and front collision warning.

Toyota Corolla - 2020

Our list of best cars for teenagers would be incomplete without mentioning the Toyota Corolla 2020 model. Toyota unveiled a revamped Corolla sedan for 2020. The 1.8L four-cylinder engine in the L, LE, and XLE Corolla sedan trim levels produces 139 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to get even the most inexperienced drivers up to speed while getting an EPA-estimated 38 mpg on the highway (L and LE trims). A 2.0L four-cylinder engine with 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque powers the sportier SE and XSE sedans. Toyota also unveiled a 2020 Corolla Hybrid vehicle with a fantastic EPA-estimated combined fuel economy of 52 miles per gallon.

The following features come standard on the 2019-2020 Toyota Corolla:

  • Pedestrian detection and a pre-collision system
  • Departure alert
  • Steering assistance
  • Cruise control
  • Touchscreen display (6.1 inches)


The IIHS named the 2020 Toyota Corolla four-door car a “Top Safety Pick,” giving it a “good” rating in all areas except headlights, which were given an “acceptable/marginal” rating, depending on trim level. The Corolla also received a “superior” rating for front accident avoidance, thanks to its ability to entirely avoid collisions in both the 12-mph and 25-mph auto brake tests. The NHTSA awarded the 2020 Toyota Corolla a five-star overall safety rating.

2017 Volkswagen Jetta

Although the sixth-generation Jetta’s production ended in 2017, the 2017 and 2018 model years saw significant enhancements to VW’s favorite four-door. Music fans of all ages will appreciate the updates to the Jetta’s infotainment system, which now includes USB connectivity and Smartphone integration. 2017 Jettas are powered by one of two turbocharged four-cylinder engines: a 1.4L with 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, or a 1.8L with an additional 20 horsepower.

The Volkswagen Jetta is equipped with the following features for the 2017-2019 models:

  • Rearview camera
  • Steering wheel with tilt and telescoping
  • Cruise control
  • Rear traffic alert
  • Blind-spot monitor


The 2017 Jetta has a five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Jetta received a “Top Safety Pick Plus” designation from the IIHS after receiving a “good” rating in all crash tests (the highest possible score) and an “advanced” score in the mitigation and front crash prevention test after reducing the impact speed of a 12-mph collision by nine mph. The Jetta got an “acceptable” rating on the IIHS’s new headlight safety test when equipped with the optional HID headlights. Park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control, frontal collision warning, and automatic emergency braking are all included in the Driver Assistance package that is now accessible on lesser trim levels.

2017 Honda Accord

The legendary 2017 Honda Accord is at the top of the list of the best cars for teenagers. The Accord has long been a favorite of new drivers thanks to its attractive design, generous features, and adequate cargo space (15.8 cubic feet), and the 2017 model is no exception. Honda updated the popular Accord with a redesign and new technology in 2016. That change helps the 2017 model, which has the same 185-hp, 2.4L four-cylinder engine. This sedan also features a convenient one-piece folding rear seat helpful in transporting large objects and sports equipment.

The following features are available on the Honda Accord from 2017 to 2019:

  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • Rearview camera
  • Automatic sound system
  • Automatic climate control


The 2016 Honda Accord coupe and sedan models received an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating. Since the car has remained unchanged since 2017, it’s projected to receive the same distinction for the next model year. Honda’s rollover sensors, side and front curtain airbags, and ACE body construction are passive safety measures. The road departure mitigation, collision mitigation braking ABS brakes, a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidance, daytime running lights, and brake assist are among the other standard and optional safety features.

Honda Civic 2012 and 2015

The ninth-generation Honda Civic may not have the cult following of the 1990s’ high-revving coupes and hatchbacks, but it is significantly safer and more fuel-efficient than previous Civics. According to the Fuel Economic Guide, its base engine is a 140-horsepower inline-four that gets 39 mpg on the interstate. It also comes with a manual transmission, which is likely the most significant requirement for a high school driver. Although most postings are for inexpensive CVT-equipped cars, finding a sub-$10,000 Civic sedan with fewer than 62,137 miles is relatively easy. Try the 201-horsepower Civic Si, which is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Some prominent features of the Honda Civic include:

  • Touchscreen radio
  • Audio speakers
  • Automatic climate control
  • Honda’s lane watch system
  • SE trim (15-inch aluminum wheels with black inserts)


The 2012 and 2015 Honda Civic comes standard with anti-lock brakes on all trim levels. The variable electronic power transmission, traction control, Honda’s ACE body construction, and six airbags are also standard. The 2012 Honda Civic is widely considered the safest Civic ever built.

Toyota Camry – Best Midsize Car

The Toyota Camry has been America’s best-selling passenger car for 15 years, but that doesn’t imply it’s also the most incredible family sedan—it’s actually quite the opposite. However, we’re pleased to announce that the Camry is now a car teenagers can easily drive. It’s a compelling entry in the family-sedan class for the first time in many years, one that can win on more than its reputation for immaculate reliability and high resale value.

A hybrid with the highest EPA ratings of any family-sedan rivals, the most fuel-efficient gas engine we’ve ever tested, more refined interiors, and substantially improved handling and ride are among the new model’s strengths. Plus, Toyota’s dedication to providing a plethora of standard active vehicle safety remains unwavering.


The newest Camry outperforms the competition in IIHS safety tests, receiving a “Top Safety Pick Plus” designation in 2021. The NHTSA also gives Toyota’s midsize car a five-star overall safety rating. The Camry’s standard safety systems are remarkable. Toyota’s Safety Sense package includes adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, automatic high lights, lane departure alert with steering aid, lane tracing aid, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian recognition as standard features.

Subaru Impreza – Best All-Wheel Drive

The Subaru Impreza is an appealing choice, thanks to standard all-wheel drive, excellent safety ratings, and a full suite of entertainment options.

The Impreza has broad appeal because of its attractive but underrated exterior styling, robust business-like cabin, and predictable and athletic frame that makes driving more fun for youngsters. If only it had a more powerful engine and a better transmission, it would be perfect.

Both acceleration and fuel efficiency suffer in terms of performance. However, the Impreza is a vehicle we’re glad to recommend for teenagers when it comes to equipment and all-weather capability.


Subaru’s EyeSight suite of driver-assist active security features is standard on all CVT-equipped Imprezas. As a result, every CVT-equipped Impreza comes standard with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep-assist feature, and automatic emergency braking. Lane change assist, Rear cross-traffic warning, and blind-spot monitoring are also some of the additional features available on Premium and Sport grades.

The Impreza gets a 2020 IIHS Top Safety Pick due to the EyeSight package and the limited trim’s LED headlights. The headlights have a “marginal” rating without the LEDs, while all trims get “good” crashworthiness ratings. The NHTSA gives Impreza a five-star overall safety rating.

Safety Features to Consider

Teens and technology is a dangerous combination when it comes to driving. According to studies, 7% of teen drivers were involved in fatal car accidents in 2018. Therefore, even the very best car for teenagers should have the following features installed:

Control of Electronic Stability (ESC)

When a car begins to slide on twisty or slick roads, this automated system applies the brakes to assist drivers in regaining control of the steering. This technology is widely regarded as a significant advancement in car safety since the introduction of seat belts, reducing the probability of a fatal single-vehicle crash by half.

Rearview Cams

As of May 1, 2018, all new vehicles sold in the United States, except for the heavy vehicles, must have rearview cameras to assist drivers in backing up securely. The law was enacted when a pediatrician named Greg Gulbransen, whose son died after being run over by a vehicle, helped raise awareness about the dangerous blind space behind most vehicles.

Automatic Braking System

These systems use video, radar, and even lasers to determine if the vehicle’s speed exceeds the required speed limits. The device automatically slows or stops the car if there is a significant speed difference, suggesting a probable collision.

Blind Spot Detection

This device warns drivers when vehicles are coming but not yet visible, such as in the adjacent lane, making lane changes safer.

Lane Maintenance Alerts

A lane departure warning system uses video, laser, or infrared sensors to alert the driver if the vehicle wanders out of their lane.

Driver Safety Technology

Automakers may offer built-in driver-assist technologies that can be customized for new drivers in the near future. Intelligent key fobs and other gadgets that control speed and block electronic distractions are already available in some automobiles. In addition, several insurance firms provide new teen drivers with in-vehicle tracking and feedback systems.


Best Cars For Teenagers

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

Read More About Charles Redding