How to Choose the Best Car for Your Teen

by Community Manager ‎02-11-2015 01:43 PM - edited ‎03-05-2015 09:22 AM (3,619 Views)

Looking for a car for your teen driver? There are several things—not just the price—to consider. Here are some guidelines to help you make your decision.


Buying your teenager’s first car can be daunting. There are many considerations—from affordability to reliability to safety. And more teens die each year in car crashes than from any other cause, so choosing the right car for your child is important. That’s especially so if your teen is a new driver: Teens have a 50 percent higher crash rate in their first month of driving than after a year.

To ensure you choose the safest car possible for your child, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

Vehicle Power
Sports cars and other vehicles with powerful engines may tempt some teens to speed. A vehicle with a four-cylinder engine is less capable of rapid acceleration—and is a safer choice for teens.


Vehicle Size
Larger, heavier vehicles offer better protection than small cars, and teens are less likely to crash them, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). But pickup trucks and larger SUVs also have a higher rate of rollover crashes. Midsize and large sedans and small SUVs are good options.


Vehicle Safety Features
Several safety features offer added protection for your teen. Electronic stability control can improve vehicle control on slick roads or at high speeds. It also reduces risk on a level comparable to seat belts, according to IIHS. This safety feature is a must for teens.

In a crash, head restraints provide head and neck protection and, when adjusted properly, offer the maximum protection against whiplash. Also, air bags—frontal and side-impact—help reduce injury risk during crashes.

Many parents struggle with whether to buy a used or new car for their teen. A used car may be appealing because it’s likely less expensive. The tradeoff—that it may not have the newest safety features—is one that parents must consider. Learn more about the best safe and affordable used cars for teen drivers here.

AAA encourages parents to recognize that teens are still learning and improving their driving skills. Parents should continue to coach their teens and be cautious about the amount of driving responsibility that they give them. By working with teens and buying safe cars, parents are helping their children to have a safe, enjoyable driving experience—for life.


To find safety ratings for cars and other tips for your teen driver, visit


A version of this story appears in the March/April 2015 issue of AAA Living magazine.

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