Choosing the Best Car, Truck or SUV for Your Teen Driver

August 7th, 2020 by

Choosing the Best Car, Truck or SUV for Your Teen Driver


It’s an exciting time when your teen receives their driver’s license. For you, this means no more dropping them off at school, sports, or at their friend’s houses. But this can also be a scary time as the crash rate for 16-19 year-olds is almost three times higher than for drivers of all ages. Thankfully the risk of a crash declines as your teen driver gains experience behind the wheel.


While no car or truck can completely protect your teen from harm, there are plenty of safe and affordable options if your child is going to have their own vehicle.


Here’s what to look for in your teen’s first car:


What to look for in your teen’s first car



For safety, consider models that rank on the Top Safety Picks list from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Ford Edge and the Ford Escape are both on the list and are great starter SUVs for a teen driver. When you are choosing a vehicle, look for features like side curtain airbags and electronic stability control which help the driver keep control of the car on slippery roads. Another popular feature is blind-spot monitoring which alerts drivers when a car is in their blind spot.


For teenage drivers, the IIHS recommends bigger, heavier vehicles that best protect drivers in a crash. Large vehicles, like full-sized SUV’s and trucks, can be expensive and harder to maneuver. Small cars can be more affordable and easier to drive and park, but they do not score as well on crash tests.


Compact or midsized SUVs fall in the middle on both size and price. They’re heavy, so they sustain less damage in crashes, but they’re small enough to drive easily, and they offer good visibility. Such models are priced similarly to midsized sedans and offer similar fuel economy, says Colin Thomas, senior analyst at Jumpstart Automotive Media, a digital marketing firm. “And the advantage of sitting up higher may make parents feel safer,” he says.



All cars require routine maintenance, but if your teen’s vehicle requires frequent repairs, it could be a safety concern and a major inconvenience. If you buy an older vehicle from a private seller make sure it is in good condition. You can check a vehicle’s history report by checking the car’s Autocheck. Also, request any of the owner’s maintenance records and have a mechanic you trust inspect it before you buy.


Purchasing a pre-owned car from a dealership for your teen provides you with the reassurance that the car has been inspected.  Often times the repair costs are covered under a factory warranty or you can purchase an extended warranty for that added peace of mind.


Whenever you are buying a car you need to determine how much you can afford to spend. When buying for your teen here are a few questions to ask yourself and your teenager:

  • Do you have the money to buy a new car or would a used car be a better fit for your budget?
  • Will you be financing the purchase?
  • Can your teen afford to pay for part or all of the car?
  • Will your teen help pay for gas, insurance, or monthly car payments?
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