The Best Cars for your Teens

By: Kraig Johanssen

Teenage life involves several explorations. This is the time of one's life where many of life's crucial discoveries occur. And this is also the start of their wanting to own a car.

With summer season just around the corner, this is probably the best time to give your teens the car they want. But it is understandable for parents like you to have scattered ideas as to what car to buy. As you always remind your children when they were still small, safety is still the top priority in looking for the right car for your teens. Other factors such as price, economy of operation and reliability are just under the SAFETY umbrella.

But your teens, since they have not yet experienced much you did, would prefer styling and performance when looking for one. In this case, it is better to look for a vehicle that offers the characteristics that both you and your teens prefer, without compromising safety.

But you must take note that high-performance cars are often too dangerous for inexperienced young drivers. Plus, these cars consume a lot of gasoline. Performance, therefore, should be the last priority. This is also to ensure practicality.
Teens should have safe vehicles. And it goes with saying that larger vehicles are better; they will burn more fuel, though. Safety experts agree on that. And the larger the vehicle and the bigger the amount of cargo, the more fuel it burns.

Consumer Reports editors identify a list of new and used vehicles as appropriate for young or teen drivers. The 10 bests are the Ford Focus (from 2002 to present, except two-door models), Honda Accord EX four-cylinder (1998 to present), Honda Civic EX, Mazda 3, Mazda Protege ES (1999-2003), Nissan Altima 2.5 S four-cylinder (2003 or later), Subaru Forester 2.5X, Toyota Camry XLE V-6 and LE four-cylinder, Toyota Corolla LE (1999-present) and the Toyota RAV4 (models 2001- present).

Though larger cars imply a huge safety, Consumer Reports did not list trucks, only two SUVs and both are car-based compact crossovers. The magazine also does not recommend anything more than a four-cylinder engine for teen drivers.

Consumer Reports believes that they had a pretty good list in terms of reliability and economy of operation.

Really, the more high-performance the car is, the faster the teen driver will drive it. And the faster it goes, the higher is the risk of accidents.

The magazine understands that because of the size factors in crashes, there are strong arguments for putting teens in mid- or full-size pickups rather than in small cars such as the Focus, Civic and Corolla.

G. Chambers Williams III, a New York Times Editor, said that the more steel the kids have around with them whenever they are on the road, the higher is the possibility of their survival in a crash. Another point he would like to defend is that teens should go for pickups with only a front bench seat or a pair of bucket seats. According to him, the back seats are important for the occupants who might be a major distraction to the teen driver if they opt for the front seats. And if you opt for a vehicle with a pair of bucket or dash seats, your teen will be able to take just one other person along. And that is not fun for some teens.

Chevrolet Silverado Classic and Ford F-150 and other brand-new regular-cab full-size pickups cost about $25,000 or less. This cost is about just the same when you opt for a new small car. The editor also recommends compact-midsize pickups, which are usually less expensive than the full-size models and easier to operate. Most of these are offered with ample fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines. And that is what economy means.

Famous for their long-term reliability and economy of operation, the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, Ford Rangers, Chevrolet S10s, GMC Sonomas and the new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyons are among the options. The Mazda B-series trucks with quality also belongs to the choices.

G. Chambers Williams III said writes that when you balance the rollover potential with the overall structural safety of SUVs, these vehicles might also be a good choice for some teens. Vehicles like RAV4, Honda CR-V, Honda Element, Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner/Mazda Tribute, Chevrolet Equinox/Pontiac Torrent/Saturn Vue, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Santa Fe and Hyundai Tucson are examples of crossovers that you might also want to consider.

He also suggests Nissan Xterra, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner because according to him, these are the best truck-based SUVs. Latest wagon models such as the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe, Suzuki Forenza, Scion xB and Scion xA are also recommended. He stated that those aforementioned smaller vehicles provide few structural protections but they offer higher economy operation.

All V6 engine using cars are also recommended because they are fun to drive, at the same time economical. Examples of this are the Mustang, Mazda 3 and the Altima - the last two are in the latest Consumer Reports list. The magazine also stated that all Volkswagen models are fun to drive as well as economical on gas.

Those were Consumer Reports' recommended vehicles. But the last decision is still in your hands. Just choose the right one; the vehicle that will not compromise your teens' safety. After all, that is what parents always remind their kids: "Take care!"

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