Best Cars For Teens: Top 5 Vehicles For Young Drivers Most Recommended By Experts

The best cars for teens are typically those with strong safety records, reliable performance, and reasonable fuel efficiency. Parents should prioritize vehicles equipped with advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assistance. Additionally, choosing a car with a reputation for low maintenance costs can help ensure a stress-free ownership experience for both teens and their parents.

Driving independently is a massive responsibility, and despite all the practice, nothing can replace the great teacher of experience. Still, it’s important to understand and prepare teenagers for the risks and dangers of driving. Studies show that teenagers are eight times more likely to crash in the first months after getting their driver’s license. And it’s more than urban legend that teens are attached to their phones, as research has found that teenage drivers hold their phones for 30 percent of their drives, and speed 40 percent of the time. 

With all these risks, it’s no wonder that parents are concerned about their teens’ safety when getting behind the wheel on their own. Thankfully, technology has come a long way when it comes to vehicles, and there are an abundance of great options to help protect young drivers as they hit the road. 

Whether your teenager is getting licensed tomorrow, or you’re just looking to prepare for down the road, StudyFinds is here to help. We’ve scoured 10 expert websites for the best cars for teens — and that means the safest, most durable, and longest-lasting vehicles. And as always, if you have your own recommendations, let us know in the comments below!

woman wearing headphones inside vehicle during daytime
(Photo by Igor Starkov on Unsplash)

The List: Best Cars for Teen Drivers, According to Experts

1. Mazda3

With high gas mileage and top-of-the-line safety features, the Mazda3 is our top recommendation for teen drivers. “Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, it’s tough to beat the Mazda3 in its segment,” says Kelley Blue Book

2019 Mazda3 Fastback
2019 Mazda3 Fastback (Credit: Mazda)

On top of its great features and function, the Mazda3 won’t break the bank. BankRate names it their top pick for tight budgets, with “the base model Mazda 3 [starting] at around $16,000 for a 2012 model year.” 

As an added bonus, your teen is likely to be just as thrilled about the look of the Mazda3 as you are about the safety features. “The Mazda3 punches well above its weight in terms of cabin quality,” says CARFAX. “The fit-and-finish and clean, elegant layout give some luxury cars a run for their money.”

2. Honda CR-V

Our next recommendation packs the power and safety of an SUV into a compact, fuel-efficient package. “​​If you’re looking for a well-rounded compact SUV, the Honda CR-V is tough to beat. It’s safe, upscale, accommodating, and fuel-efficient,” says CARFAX.

2023 Honda CR-V Sport Touring
2023 Honda CR-V Sport Touring (Credit: Honda)

Built to withstand all kinds of weather and road conditions, the Honda CR-V is great for a newly minted driver. “You get a practical, compact SUV that can handle snow, ice, mud, and just about any other weather condition,” says Rategenius. All that function doesn’t mean compromising on appearance, however. “The CR-V has sharp styling, comfortable seating for five, and boasts good cargo space and fuel efficiency,” adds Kelley Blue Book.

3. Mazda CX-5

Mazda’s second appearance on our list goes to the CX-5, which packs a powerful punch of safety, fuel efficiency, spaciousness, and sporty appeal. “The Mazda CX-5 is a small SUV with great fuel economy and a host of safety features. It performs beautifully in crash tests and is highly reliable,” says ACV Auctions.

Mazda CX-5
Mazda CX-5 (Credit: Mazda)

“The CX-5 is available with many high-tech comfort and safety features like LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning,” adds Rategenius. Your teen will be quick to get on board, as “it handles more like a sports car than an SUV and provides impressive ride quality and strong acceleration with the optional 256-horsepower turbocharged engine,” says CARFAX.

4. Toyota Corolla

A classic for first cars, the Toyota Corolla remains favored for its safety and longevity. “A list of great cars for beginner drivers wouldn’t be complete without the Corolla,” says CarMax. “New drivers typically want a car that feels comfortable and gives them confidence, and the Toyota Corolla can check those boxes.”

2022 Toyota Corolla Apex
2022 Toyota Corolla Apex (Credit: Toyota)

According to CARFAX, “the Toyota Corolla is one of the best-selling compact sedans, and with good reason. It earns terrific crash-test scores, has a long list of standard ADAS features, and has a great reputation for reliability.” Though smaller than the compact SUVs on our list, the Corolla is not to be overlooked. “The Corolla is comfortable and easy to drive, and you may be surprised by how roomy the rear seats are,” says Kelley Blue Book.

5. Honda Civic

It should come as no surprise that the Honda Civic makes our list. Renowned for its reliability and durability, the Honda Civic makes for a great first vehicle for any young driver. “The Honda Civic has consistently been one of the best small cars sold in the U.S,” says CARFAX.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback with Accessory Wheels
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback with Accessory Wheels (Credit: Honda)

“Civics are known for safety, comfort, and fuel efficiency,” states Kelley Blue Book. At Bankrate, the Civic earns their top spot for its overall top-notch value. “The Honda Civic has been one of the best-selling small cars in the United States for years, with a winning combination of price, features, safety, reliability and resale value,” says Bankrate.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.


  1. I appreciate seeing this article and learning about the best cars for teens. The part that got me was your suggestion of b getting the Toyota Corolla as it is known for its safety and longevity. A friend is planning to get a car for his sister, so I will suggest this to him as soon as I can. That way, she can get started on familiarizing herself as soon as she finishes her driving lessons.

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