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safe inexpensive car for teen driver

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


I'm looking for a dependable car for my 22 year old daughter who's been a safe driver for 4 years. I would like a car that she will be able to continue to use for another 6-8 years without too many large repairs.

Priorities: Safety & braking / Driving position & visibility / Warranty, maintenance cost

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 80000
Maximum age: 7 years

Maximum price: US $ 10000

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Response from avshelden

3:36 pm January 16, 2018

I was not expecting your "teen" to be 22 with 4 years of driving experience, so maybe my recommendation won't be as good of a fit (pun not intended).

I have a 14 y.o. at home who will be driving soon and if we didn't have a hand-me-down to pass along, my first option for him would have been a Honda Fit. Good saftey ratings, not expensive, very practical. From what I've read, even has a little bit more "fun to drive" factor than some of it's nearest competitors. Reliabilty scores well here on TrueDelta and you can have a look at Michael's review of the current (2015+) generation here:https://www.truedelta.com/Honda-Fit/pros-and-cons-M176


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Honda Fit

Response from LectroFuel

8:18 pm January 16, 2018

The Fit is a good car for a teen, reliable and efficient. I would get something a little bigger though. IIHS only recommends midsize sedans and larger for teen drivers. We got my 18 year old a 2015 Mazda3 last month coming out of a 2005 Prius. It is much more substantial than a Fit. It is still not a midsize sedan, but it isn't a subcompact car either.

Just make sure your daugter gets all the safety features you guys are willing to pay for. The mandatory feature is Electronic Stability Control, which was mandated for all cars since 2012. A backup camera is also a nice feature. Automatic braking would be out of your budget.

The Toyota Prius is probably the best car for a new driver that doesn't have a lot of gas money. 2010 and newer gets at least 45 MPG; the 2012 and newer gets at least 50 MPG. There is a lot of cargo space and the back seat is spacious. The Prius is super reliable, with most old ones going past 300k miles after replacing the battery once. It is a more premium car compared to the Corolla, Civic, Cruze, and other compact sedans. Active safety features were available since 2010.

My second suggestion is the 2014+ Toyota Corolla. It is a reliable compact sedan that is easy to drive, pretty stylish, comfortable, efficient and roomy.

The Mazda3 is the most stylish option. It is the most fun to drive out of these cars. You could afford a 2012-2013, right before the current generation. Road noise was pretty loud in these and the ride was sort of firmer than the Corolla and definitely the Prius. The Mazda3 was reliable. 2012 and newer had a much more efficient engine.

All these cars are easy to see out of.

Some cars to avoid are the Ford Focus (transmission failures), Dodge Dart (junk), VW Jetta (expensive to fix), 2012 Honda Civic (reliable, but didn't drive well at all), Chevy Cruze before 2016, and any subcompact other than the Fit.


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Toyota Prius
Toyota Corolla
Mazda Mazda3

Response from mkaresh

2:02 pm January 23, 2018

Some very good suggestions above, for compact cars. A midsize that often hits the safe/reliable/affordable sweet spot is the pre-2013 Ford Fusion. (The newer one isn't as easy to see out of.) The 2010 update had some initial issues, but has been good in our stats lately. To avoid these issues entirely maybe look for a 2011 or 2012.


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Ford Fusion

Response from Rkdavs24

1:22 am January 29, 2018

I would say pretty much any Corolla from 2013 or later would probably fit the bill. Some of the most reliable cockroaches on the road and as long as it's regualrly maintained there is very little cost that is required to own the vehicle.

A Civic from around the same model year would probably do just as good.


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Toyota Corolla
Honda Civic
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