5 Safe Cars for Teenage Drivers

These affordable rides offer all the tech needed to appease parents and kids alike.

Red undefined Gray Mazda cars parkedMazda

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If you are a teen driver—or you're shopping for one—finding the right car can be overwhelming. It's easy to get hung up on safety and cost and think there's no fun to be had. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Every car on this list comes in under $25,000 and has received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick+ award. Each is also available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, which works so well, your teen should not have a need to look down at their phone while driving.

Orange 2022 Honda Civic Si drivingHonda

2022 Honda Civic

The compact Honda Civic is a great first car for anyone. It starts at about $23,700 in sedan form or $24,700 as the hatchback and provides a reasonably powered 158 hp four-cylinder, standard adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen. Spend a little more for the EX trim and you’ll get blind-spot monitoring and the marginally more efficient 180 hp turbo 1.5L, not to mention heated seats and dual-zone climate control.

Blue Mazda CX-9 parked outside building garageMazda

2022 Mazda3

For those seeking a sporty ride with laudable handling and an elegant interior, the Mazda3 is a good choice. Its 8.8-inch infotainment display isn’t a touchscreen, which may or may not appeal to you. The sedan costs about $22,200, but we recommend the hatchback for its superior cargo volume (about 20 cu.-ft. to the sedan’s around 13 cu.-ft.). That model opens at about $24,200. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available on higher trim levels of both, but we must say, if you live in the snowbelt, nothing provides assurance on icy roads better than dedicated winter tires.

Neon 2023 Subaru Crosstrek driving in snowSubaru

2023 Subaru Crosstrek

If you desire a taller ride with standard AWD and some off-roading chops, consider the Subaru Crosstrek. The base model comes equipped with a manual transmission for around $24,900, but you’ll likely want to spend the $1,350 to get the CVT, as it brings Subaru’s EyeSight suite of safety tech (i.e., automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control with lane centering). There’s a hybrid on the menu, too, though that model costs above $38,000.

Blue 2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback driving down highwayToyota

2022 Toyota Corolla

The price leader on our list, the Corolla sedan starts at around $21,500. The hatchback is only a touch more expensive, at around $23,000, but it comes standard with a manual transmission. If you want a CVT in the hatch, you’ll need to fork over around $24,000. Fuel-conscious shoppers should look at the hybrid variant, which manages 52 mpg combined and is surprisingly affordable, at around $25,100. Whichever form you buy, though, the ubiquitous Corolla will undoubtedly serve you well, imbued as it is with Toyota reliability and the brand’s comprehensive safety suite.

Yellow 2023 Chevrolet Trailblazer parked in desertChevrolet

2023 Chevrolet Trailblazer

With the base 137 hp turbocharged three-cylinder under hood, the Trailblazer won’t win any races, but it will merge onto the freeway with minimal stress and return 30 mpg combined. Included in this subcompact crossover’s about $23,500 base price is Chevy’s Teen Driver Technology suite, which allows parents to cap vehicle speed at 85 mph and set audio warnings and reminders to encourage safe driving. The system will also keep track of how many times the driver received a forward collision alert and hit wide open throttle, among other things.

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Nelson Ireson
Nelson Ireson is a car writer, photographer, and editor with 15 years of experience in the fast-paced world of online automotive news, reviews, and video production. Nelson’s passion is driving the latest in luxury and performance cars, translating his experience behind the wheel into words, emotions, and enthusiasm.