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Teen Driving 
 
Best Cars for Teens | 2014 

Many emotions are felt by a family once a teen gets their driver license; excitement and joy are felt by the new teen driver, and worry and apprehension are felt by their parents. A driver license in the hands of a teen opens the door to many questions: Should you let your teen use an existing family car? Should you buy them a new car? What features are most important to have in a car being driven by a teen? How do you begin to decide which car is best for your new driver?

The Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) is here to help. The ARC released its 2014 list of Best Cars for Teens, a tool to help guide parents in the decision-making process when buying or leasing a vehicle for their teen driver, and/or to assist in determining which existing family car is best for their teen to use.

In general, the ARC recommends a midsized car with a four-cylinder engine, an automatic transmission, and high crash test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Here’s why:

  • A midsized car is big enough to protect occupants in a crash but small enough for a new driver to handle easily.
  • The four-cylinder engine limits the car’s ability to accelerate, and generally provides better fuel economy (which also improves the car’s carbon footprint).
  • Automatic transmissions are easier to drive and allow the new driver to focus on steering, proper speed, and braking.
  • High crash-test scores generally mean better protection for your teen in the event of a collision.

Crash-test scores were taken from NHTSA’s website, safercar.gov; we selected only vehicles that scored the maximum 5 stars overall. Cars not tested by NHTSA as of press time were not included in the list. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP) listed are for base-model vehicles with automatic transmissions.

AAA’s List of Recommended Cars for Teens

Make Model MSRP
Audi A6 $44,345 With optional rear side air bags
Audi A6 Quattro $46,095 With optional rear side air bags
BMW 528i $50,425
BMW 528i xDrive $52,725
Buick LaCrosse e-Assist $34,460
Chevrolet Cruze $18,345
Chevrolet Malibu $23,165
Chevrolet Sonic 5 $15,595
Dodge Dart $18,240
Ford Fusion $22,795
Ford Fusion Energi $35,525
Ford Fusion Hybrid $27,095
Honda Accord $23,545
Honda Accord Hybrid $29,945
Hyundai Elantra $18,010
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid $26,810
Kia Optima $22,300
Lexus ES 300h $40,410
Lincoln MKZ $36,085
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid $36,085
Mazda 3, 5-Door $19,740
Mazda 6 $23,490
Nissan Altima $22,980
Subaru Legacy $21,090
Toyota Avalon Hybrid $36,615
Toyota Camry $23,235
Toyota Camry Hybrid $27,140
Toyota Corolla $18,195
Volkswagen Passat (5 cylinder) $23,065

Learning isn’t over just because a teen passes a driver’s test; continue to review the importance of distraction-free driving, how fatigue and impairment affect abilities, defensive driving techniques, and other critical topics. To view the many resources provided by AAA, visit teendriving.aaa.com