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Best Cars for Teens Awards

Executives from and recently named the top new vehicles for teens based on safety, price, size and ‘fun factor.’
VehicleVoice Counterpoint
The vehicles selected used input from Power’s Mechanical Reliability Ratings and Consumer Reports Reliability Histories. They also used crash test scores and IIHS ratings.
In the flurry of COTY awards, the Best Cars for Teens seems soft and not particularly well thought out. It appears like a no teen was asked for their opinions and only government- and industry-available information was used. Based on AutoPacific and VehicleVoice research Teens (or lets broaden that to GenY buyers) most likely would buy a used car (because they can afford it) or larger vehicles (because they aspire to them).
Study this list and you conclude that a Teen only wants a small, fuel effiicient, inexpensive cars and trucks. Au contraire, they want vehicles where they can carry their friends and their stuff plus go places their lifestyles demand. A Mazda3, no matter how nice a little car it is, won’t do all a Teen requires of it.
The top teen car recommendations from and include:
Mazda3– “sporty and affordable”
Honda Civic – having “it all”
Scion tC – “feels rich for the price”
Mini Cooper, – “stops, goes, corners like a BMW”
Subaru Impreza -“good all around performer”
Mazda MX-5 – “affordable convertible”
Volvo S40 – “Volvo safety at an affordable price”
Hyundai Tucson, described as “a lot for the money”
Toyota RAV4 – “larger and stronger than before”
Subaru Forester – “surprisingly roomy inside”
Nissan Frontier, crew cab – “perfect truck option for teens”
Toyota Tacoma, double cab – “Toyota quality in a tough truck”

What They Say About the Best Cars for Teens Awards…
“We kept in mind that many parents are more concerned about safety, while their child is looking for style,” explained Joe Wiesenfelder, senior editor of “This list offers new car choices in various body styles and a wide range of prices likely to meet the needs of parents and teens.”
Gary Tsifrin, founder of, which is a drivers education resource, added, “It’s essential for teens to be involved in the car-buying decision, so that they both understand the responsibility of the driving privilege and feel comfortable behind-the-wheel of their car.”
Safety a Factor
Executives said the safety of these vehicles was highly weighed, although neither or can designate a vehicle as safe or unsafe. Executives said they interpreted crash-test ratings and completed an audit of safety features. The crash-test scores came from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
As SUVs have a rollover risk, executives explained that the most important features in these models were electronic stability systems and side-curtain-type airbags. When looking at the smaller vehicles, executives said side-impact airbags and curtains were highly weighted, as they can prove to be the difference between a Poor and Good IIHS rating for each model. Company officials also pointed out that no vehicle with a weak crash-rating was eligible for the list.
Cost/Reliability Important
Another factor contributing to the list was cost/reliability, as executives said low ownership cost can easily compensate for a higher sale price. Repairs were also a significant component in the total ownership cost and executives said they utilized J.D. Power and Associates’ Mechanical Reliability Ratings and Consumer Reports’ Reliability Histories to review the vehicles. Other factors in the cost of ownerships included fuel economy, required fuel grade and insurance costs, as many teens will be covering these costs on their own, executives concluded.

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