How to Find the Best Cars for New Drivers

Five Things to Consider When Buying Cars for Teenagers

Your teenager just received a driver's license and is begging you for his own car. You have your reasons for agreeing, but how do you go about finding the right cars for teenagers? Here are 5 things to consider before you head to the dealership.

1. Size of the Car

When it comes to finding the best cars for new drivers, size matters. If you're drawn to small, compact cars because of their quick, easy maneuverability, you may want to reconsider. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the smallest 4-door models have the highest fatality rates, while mid- and full-size cars have the lowest (except for sport models).

However, full-size cars may be too heavy and long for a teenager learning to drive, so you may want to consider a mid-size car. SUVs and trucks are not recommended because of their higher risk of rollovers.

2. Power of the Car

Teens are more likely to engage in risky driving behavior. Adding more horsepower may increase the temptation for teens to speed or develop other unsafe driving habits. However, you do want a car with enough power to merge safely onto highways. According to Edmunds, a good rule of thumb is to choose a car that can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 8 to 11 seconds.

3. Safety Features of the Car

The best cars for teenagers are the ones that have the most safety features. The cars that have the most safety features tend to be the newest models. If you or your teen cannot afford a new car, look for a good deal on a used model that is no more than 3 to 4 years old so you can still take advantage of important safety features.

Whether buying used or new, be on the lookout for the following essential features: electronic stability control (ESC), anti-lock brakes, driver and passenger airbags, side and curtain airbags and a seat-belt reminder system. Checking crash test reports from trusted organizations such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can also help you find some of the safest cars for new drivers.

4. Cost of the Car

New models with the latest safety features may cost anywhere from $12,000 to 15,000 or more. Whether you're buying the car, your teen is paying, or you're splitting the cost, a new car may not be the most affordable choice.

If you're looking to spend only a fraction of that price, "newer" used cars may be a good choice for your teen. It's possible to find one in your price range that offers important safety features and scored well on government crash tests; however, it may require a little more patience and research on your part. Checking with dealerships each week and researching car history reports can go a long way toward finding a great deal on the perfect "new" used car.

5. Car Insurance for Young Drivers

A final point to consider is car insurance for young drivers. It's no secret teens can be more expensive to insure. However, by choosing a safer car for your teenager, you can help avoid a larger insurance rate. Be sure to shop around and compare quotes to find the most affordable rate from a company you can trust. In addition, you can get discounts on your policy when your teen earns good grades in school or completes a driver safety course.

Finding the best cars for new drivers is really a matter of safety and affordability - buy a car with as many safety features as you can afford. Remember, a mid-size car with average horsepower and lots of safety features can help keep your teen protected on the road.

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