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If the thought of handing your car keys over to a freshly licensed teenage driver fills you with foreboding dread, well, you’re probably not alone. But growing up – and taking on the open road – is an inevitable part of life. Help keep your kids a little safer on the road by selecting a car that’s safe, reliable and teen-proof (or as close as any car can be).
Some may have the option of passing down an older family vehicle but for those who are looking to purchase a car for their child, this list may be helpful. The cars listed have a proven ability to serve the teenage crowd well. They are included because of their reliability and safety but price has also been taken into consideration.
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1. Hyundai Elantra
If it’s safety you’re after, you can’t go wrong with the Hyundai Elantra. In fact, Kelley Blue Book named the car a top pic for teen drivers due to its 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association (NHTSA) and an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick. The Elantra features a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty too, which may save you some money on repairs down the line. See listings near you.
2. Ford Taurus
It may not be the sporty coup your kid has dreamed of, but the Ford Taurus is both reliable and fuel efficient, getting more than 20 miles to the gallon in combined city and highway driving. According to Forbes, the Taurus is also a great pick for teens because it allows mom and dad a full-size car with a roomy trunk whenever they happen to need it (as long as your teen is willing to share). See listings near you.
3. Chevrolet Malibu
Its overhauled design and impressive price tag has made the Chevy Malibu one of Consumer Report’s top recommendations for teen drivers. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck by picking up a used Malibu; you can score a 2010 for less than $15,000. See listings near you.
4. Ford Focus
With its small size and roomy interior, the Ford Focus always makes an appearance on any “best cars for teens” list. And its fuel-efficient too, boasting an average 26 MPG. Teens will be particularly impressed by the interior bells and whistles added in recent model years. See listings near you.
5. Volkswagen Jetta
The quintessential teen-college car, the VW Jetta is as cute as it is safe. But to avoid a shock to the checkbook, choose a newer used model. According to Consumer Reports, the five-cylinder 2009 model is more reliable than other model years, with stellar crash test scores. See listings near you.
6. Toyota Corolla
What it lacks in sleek design, the Corolla greatly makes up for in reliability and fuel economy. Under $19,000 new, Bankrate.com recommends the LE model, which comes with a few features that will tickle your teen: Bluetooth connectivity, four-speaker audio system and an iPod interface. See listings near you.
7. Subaru Legacy
If you’re a parent of an outdoor enthusiast, or just live somewhere a little, uh, snowy (sound familiar?), the Subaru Legacy is a good option. With standard all-wheel drive, the Legacy will help keep your teen safe even on slick winter roads. See listings near you.
8. Scion tC
Safety is the calling card of the Scion tC, which offers impressive crash test results and several impressive safety features, like front and rear head curtain airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags and electronic stability control. Plus it made Nationwide Insurance's list of recommended cars for teens. See listings near you.
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