Best Safe New Cars for Teenagers for Under $20,000
When a child gets a driver’s license, the last thing they want to do is drive your car unless you own a really cool set of wheels. And if you own a really cool set of wheels, the last thing you want is for your child to drive your car. To keep the peace in the household, it might be a wise idea to simply get another vehicle for your teenager to drive.
If you agree, know that Speedy Daddy strongly recommends choosing a safe vehicle for your new driver, and advises getting a reliable used model to reduce purchase and insurance costs while keeping maintenance and repair costs to a minimum. Another benefit to choosing a used car is that the used car market offers a far broader array of choices and more widely variable price points than the new car market does.
Review our research determining the best used cars for teenagers for under $10,000.
Many parents, however, prefer to get their child a brand-new vehicle that will serve as faithful transportation for their daughter or son through college, and get them well on their way in their careers before requiring replacement. When purchasing a new vehicle for your teenager to drive, you can also enjoy full warranty and roadside assistance protection, modern technologies like Bluetooth with streaming audio, and up-to-date safety features.
HOW SPEEDY DADDY DETERMINED THE LIST OF FINALISTS FOR BEST NEW CAR FOR TEENAGERS
To help parents focus on the safest new cars for their teenagers to drive, Speedy Daddy took a look at the entire 2012 model year lineup, crosschecking crash-test scores for all models with a base price of less than $20,000. If the vehicle received a 5-Star overall crash-test score in tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a “Top Safety Pick” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), we included the model as a finalist.
As you will see below, only six models made the final cut based on currently available crash-test data. This highly select group will likely do the best job of protecting your child in a collision in exchange for the least amount of money, thereby helping to ensure that you will become a grandparent and exact sweet revenge upon your offspring.
We list the models in order of our recommendation below, and since they all meet our basic crash-test and price requirements, won’t dwell further on the fact that they are all safe and inexpensive to purchase.
1st PLACE: 2013 HYUNDAI ELANTRA SEDAN
The 2013 Hyundai Elantra lineup expands with the addition of a new Elantra Coupe and a new Elantra GT hatchback, but it is the Elantra Sedan that receives top-notch crash-test scores as this post is produced. We recommend the Elantra GLS with the Preferred Equipment Package, which includes Bluetooth and a set of 16-inch aluminum wheels for well under $20,000.
Hyundai has built a reputation for value, in part thanks to competitive prices but also for its excellent warranty coverage, which guarantees the engine and transmission for 10 years or 100,000 miles, and covers the whole car for five years or 60,000 miles. Hyundai also provides free 24-hour roadside assistance for five years. Add a combined fuel economy rating of 33 mpg with the automatic transmission, and it’s clear that the stylish 2013 Hyundai Elantra Sedan ought to be on any parent’s shopping list.
2nd PLACE: 2012 SCION TC
Among the choices on this list, the 2012 Scion tC is clearly the sportiest model. A three-door hatchback designed to look like a stylish coupe, the Scion tC is priced at $19,305 with the standard manual transmission. An automatic will run a grand more.
This is a well-equipped small car, including 18-inch aluminum wheels, a panoramic glass sunroof, a Bluetooth-compatible Pioneer sound system with HD Radio and a USB port with iPod control. And while the Scion tC’s warranty coverage isn’t terribly impressive at five years or 60,000 miles for the powertrain and three-year/36,000-mile coverage for the entire car, the Scion does includes a two-year/25,000-mile free maintenance and roadside assistance program. Fuel economy is 26 mpg in combined driving, regardless of transmission choice.
Scion dealers offer myriad ways to customize the tC, giving your teenager lots of latitude in personalizing the car and plenty of opportunity to blow cash earned from summer jobs.
Hmmm. Maybe the Scion isn’t such a good idea after all.
3rd PLACE: 2012 CHEVROLET SONIC
Though the 2012 Chevy Sonic is smaller than the Cruze, it features the same engines and is one of the heavier – and safer – models in the subcompact class. Additionally, buyers can select between five-door hatchback and four-door sedan body styles, and because prices start well below $15,000, you can get a Sonic Sedan with nearly all the trimmings for under $20,000.
The Sonic offers five years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection combined with free 24-hour roadside assistance. Fuel economy ranges from 28 mpg for the standard engine to 33 mpg with the optional turbocharged engine and a manual gearbox.
We recommend sticking with the Sonic 2LT model, which includes an automatic transmission and offers a Connectivity Package with Bluetooth, a USB port, cruise control, and steering wheel audio controls. Add the optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine, upgraded 16-inch wheels, and fog lights, and the Sonic is a sporty, safe, and practical way to get your kid off to a good start.
4th PLACE: 2012 CHEVROLET CRUZE
The 2012 Chevy Cruze is available in a variety of trim levels, with a choice between two engines. There’s even a Cruze ECO model that gets 31 mpg in combined driving with the optional automatic transmission (compared to 27 mpg with the standard engine). Additionally, the Cruze includes a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty with free roadside assistance.
We recommend the Cruze LS with the Connectivity Package (Bluetooth) and the automatic transmission to stay well below the $20,000 price threshold. Alternatively, the Cruze 1LT provides standard Bluetooth, aluminum wheels, a wider variety of interior and exterior colors, upgraded interior trim, and a more fuel-efficient turbocharged engine for $20,345. A Cruze ECO model with the automatic will run $21,215.
One thing parents might want to keep in mind is that Consumer Reports takes a dim view of the Cruze, giving it the research organization’s worst possible reliability prediction despite favorable performance in nearly all assessments.
5th PLACE: 2012 HONDA CIVIC SEDAN
While the 2012 Honda Civic lineup offers diversity thanks to a choice between coupe and sedan body styles, and multiple powertrains ranging from alternative (natural gas) and hybrid to performance-oriented in nature, it is the Civic Sedan that passes muster with the NHTSA and the IIHS. And within the Civic Sedan lineup, it is the LX model that slides in under the $20,000 price point with an automatic transmission.
The Honda Civic LX Sedan provides buyers with the basics. Bluetooth is not among them, an important feature for tech-addicted young drivers. To get that, you must spend over $20,000 for the Civic EX Sedan. Warranty coverage is also weak, with five years or 60,000 miles of engine and transmission protection. Unlike most automakers, Honda does not offer a free roadside assistance plan.
Basically, the Civic meets the minimum standard here, combined with a deserved reputation for reliability and fuel economy of 32 mpg with the automatic transmission.
6th PLACE: 2012 KIA SPORTAGE
The only crossover SUV to make our list, the 2012 Kia Sportage slides under the wire by virtue of its base trim level, limited color and option selection, manual gearbox and front-wheel-drive configuration. To get an automatic transmission, buyers must select the Sportage LX, which costs $21,600.
If your child can operate a manual transmission, the Sportage is a stylish and roomy little SUV. Bluetooth hands-free calling and music streaming is standard, and the least-expensive Sportage even has a USB port, an auxiliary audio input jack, and a set of 16-inch alloy wheels. Sophisticated braking and traction systems include four-wheel-disc ABS with brake assist, as well as stability control, Downhill Brake Control, and Hill Start Assist.
Keep in mind that the base Sportage also includes a comprehensive 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and free 24-hour roadside assistance for the first five years of ownership. If there’s any downside to the Kia Sportage, aside from the manual transmission, it’s a combined fuel economy rating of 24 mpg.
SPEEDY DADDY SAYS…
The former car-crazed teenagers in us vote for the sporty and stylish Scion tC, but the practical parent in us strongly recommends the excellent Hyundai Elantra Sedan.
– Christian Wardlaw
Category: Buy, Car Advice, Car Lists, Car Ratings, Chevrolet, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Safety Ratings, Scion · Tags: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze, 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, 2012 Chevy Cruze, 2012 Chevy Sonic, 2012 Honda Civic, 2012 Hyundai Elantra, 2012 Kia Sportage, 2012 Scion tC, 2013 Hyundai Elantra, affordable new cars for teenage drivers, affordable new cars for teenagers, best cars for teenagers, best first cars for teenagers, best new cars for teenage drivers, best new cars for teenagers, good cars for teenagers, safe new cars for teenage drivers, safe new cars for teenagers