The cars on our Top 10 List not only have the cool factor, they meet the highest safety standards and they sell for under $10,000.
So before you put the brakes on your teen’s dream car, consider checking the safety ratings or finding a similar vehicle with top safety ratings that has the same features they want.
Most teens will shop for their first vehicle with their parents, but it can be difficult for them to agree on a vehicle when they often have conflicting wishes. Most parents want their novice teenage driver to have the safest vehicle they can afford. On the other hand, teenagers will choose a car based on what their peers are driving, its looks, gadgets and the “cool factor.” Certainly American kids are affected by popular culture. Cleverly-targeted internet youth marketing is a big influence. Some brands align themselves with events such as the X-Games as well as popular culture films and video games such as “The Fast and The Furious” series and “Grand Turismo Sport.”
So, in an effort to make both sides happy, California Lemon Advocates has put together a list of desirable vehicles under $10,000 that are also safe. Most of these will not compare to the pimped-up, iconic muscle cars on the silver screen or the dreamed up in your teen’s wildest imagination, but we think they’ll find something to love. We hope they agree there are cool factors and cool cars they will desire on this list.
“When choosing a vehicle for teenagers, keep in mind that young people are more willing to take risks and drive aggressively and they are inexperienced,” said James Johnson, a personal injury and lemon law attorney. “Remember, however, that teens are individuals and your child’s attitudes and behaviors should be taken into account when making a decision.”
Most experts agree that teenagers should avoid small cars, sports cars and SUVs, however our list includes one SUV (Honda Element), a sports car (Ford Mustang) and one small car. The mid-size or larger cars are the best bet. Also, steer your teen away from pickup trucks which in the hands of a teenager are twice as likely to be involved in a deadly crash due to their powerful engines, according to a study by the University of Texas and published in Accident Analysis and Prevention.
When choosing a car for your teen, some features important to have on a vehicle include electronic stability control and antilock brakes. Some special features to look for include a forward collision warning system to alert the driver of an object or vehicle in their pathway. Emergency braking is another safety feature that is helpful for teen drivers. If there is a collision, a crash notification system such as On Star will alert authorities if there is a serious crash involving airbag deployment. A backup camera with rear cross-traffic alert is another great feature as it sends a warning alarm if there are people or objects behind the vehicle.
Many vehicles now come standard with some of these options, but you’ll need to find out with a used vehicle and make sure they operate.
The following list was gathered after an extensive search of well-known internet safety sites such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Consumer Reports, the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Kelly Blue Book.
Teens are attracted to stylish reputable brands, they want great gas mileage and plenty of space for luggage, according to Fuse, a youth marketing agency in New York City.
Vehicles on our list earned good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. Some may have earned a single acceptable rating. Our legal team also checked these vehicles with scores made by the NHTSA. To be on the list, they had to earn 4 or 5 stars overall or 4 or 5 stars in the front and side tests under the old rating scheme.
We also made sure these contenders are reliable and not known lemons.
Here are some basic tips for choosing a vehicle for teenagers:
- Avoid vehicles with high horse power
- Heavier, large vehicles are safer
- Choose a manual stick-shift when possible to keep teens hands off cell phones/distractions.
- Pickup trucks are not a good choice for a first vehicle
The pricing is a combination of the listings found on the Kelley Blue Book, as of April 1, 2017 for the standard trim vehicle in good overall condition with typical mileage and private party purchase in California. Some of these vehicles may have been among the millions recalled for airbags or other issues so it’s best to check your vehicle’s VIN number and make sure repairs have been made prior to purchase.
Top 10 List: Safe Teen Vehicles Under $10,000
BMW 328i sedan 2008 to 2010 $5,900 to $9,307
Volvo S80 2007 or newer $4,082 to $4,997
Ford Taurus 2010 and newer $8,020 to $10,470
Buick Lacrosse CXS 2010 and newer $10,660
Buick Regal 2011 and newer $8,221 to $9,335
Lincoln MKS 2009 and newer $9,538 to $11,484 ** Poor front
Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2007 $8,133 to $10,392
Volkswagen Passat 2010 to 2014 $6,066 to $9,997
Ford Mustang 2010 $7,682 to $9,630 **acceptable side impact
Honda Element 2009 $8,648 to $10,093
Before you buy a vehicle make sure you check the VIN to see if there have been any recalls.
Nissan Rouge 2008 – 2013 or 2015 and above $6,050 and up (one marginal)
Hyundai Sonata GLS 2008 to 2010 $3,735 to $5,151