Consumer Reports’ Recommended Cars for Teen Drivers

Summer is a busy time for used car dealers across the country as parents shop for affordable rides for their high school graduates.  According to, there are a number of safe, reliable options available. The independent, non-profit organization recently published its list of “best used car deals for teens.” The list includes model years 2008 through 2010 vehicles that sell for under $15,000.

Some of the organization’s choices offer a number of advanced safety features like side curtain air bags and electronic stability control.  All of the models on the list were deemed to be appropriate choices for inexperienced teen drivers.

According to, all of the choices on the list are “suitably equipped” with safety features for the target budget of $15k and below, and average between 15 percent and 51 percent below retail price for similarly equipped new dealer models. They have also been rated as average or above average in reliability by Consumer Reports’ subscribers who participated in the organization’s most recent survey.

The typical 2008 model year vehicle on the list had 66,000 miles on the odometer, while that average 2009 model had about 51,000 miles of use. Buyers can expect that a typical 2010 model will have seen around 40,000 miles of use.

The list includes a mix of midsized and small cars, as well as small SUVs and crossovers.  Consumer Reports does not recommend that parents buy midsized or large SUVs or pickup trucks for their teens because of their more difficult handling characteristics and the increased risk of roll overs.  These vehicles are also more expensive to own and operate than their smaller counterparts. Sports cars are also not recommended as they tend to encourage speeding and generally have higher insurance premiums.

Prior to purchasing any used vehicle, the organization recommends a thorough inspection by a trained and trusted auto mechanic to ensure it is mechanically safe and sound.

Making Consumer Reports’ list are the 2008 – 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, 2009 and 2010 Ford Focus, 2008 – 2010 Hyundai Elantra and Hyundai Sonata, 2010 Kia Forte, Optima and Soul, 2009 and 2010 Mazda6, 2008 and 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander, 2010 Nissan Altima, 2008 and 2009 Nissan Rogue, 2010 Nissan Sentra, 2008 – 2010 Scion xB, 2009 Subaru Impreza, 2008 Subaru Legacy, 2010 Toyota Corolla, 2010 Toyota Matrix, 2008 Toyota RAV4 and 2009 Volkswagen Jetta.

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