Choosing the right car for a teen driver doesn’t have to be a white-knuckle experience — for parents, anyway.
U.S. News & World Report released its Best Cars for Teens list on Tuesday, just in time for back-to-school. And while parents will feel peace of mind with the list’s focus on safety and tracking features to keep young drivers on the right path, teens might balk at being spied on.
Almost 40% of teenage drivers ages 14 and older had texted while driving at least once in the past month, according to a Nationwide Children’s Hospital study. And a 2013 report found that more teens are killed by distracted driving than drunk driving.
So every one of the vehicles on the 2019 Best New Cars for Teens list includes forward collision warning and forward automatic emergency braking, and most of them also have lane departure warnings in case the young driver starts drifting. They’re also listed by price range, so parents can select the best car for under $20K (the 2019 Hyundai /zigman2/quotes/204364212/delayed HYMTF 0.00% Accent) or the right ride for between $35K and $40K (the 2019 Toyota /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM -0.05% Camry Hybrid).
“Inexperienced teen drivers are more at risk for an accident, and the car they drive can either contribute to or help mitigate that risk,” said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars, in a press release. “The Best Cars for Teens have top-of-the-line safety features, including accident prevention and crash protection technologies, as well as features that allow parents to track their new drivers. All that tech can not only protect teens but also help them develop safe driving skills.”
Not to mention tailing them. Many of the vehicles pair with smartphone apps that alert parents when the car goes over a set speed limit, or whenever it leaves a set geographic area or is driven after a certain time of day. (So much for missing curfew or cruising somewhere other than where the driver said they would be!) The report says these Big Brother-like features let parents set limits for their teens and spark conversations about responsible driving habits. A 2016 Insurance.com report noted that teen drivers who have no driving restrictions are more likely to break curfew, drive unsupervised, speed and drive under the influence. (What’s more, parents who added a 16-year-old to their insurance policy raised their average bill by 152%.)
So the report explains that vehicles qualified for the Best New Cars list by meeting the ideal combination of predicted reliability ratings, crash test scores, available advanced driver assistance features and top critics’ recommendations in the U.S. News Best Cars ranking. Toyota scored three vehicles on the list, including best SUV for $35K to $40K. Hyundai, Volkswagen /zigman2/quotes/204431732/delayed VWAGY -1.57% , Honda /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC -1.02% and Kia /zigman2/quotes/206019389/delayed KR:000270 -1.23% were also awarded top spots.
To qualify as one of the Best Used Cars, the models had to be from 2014 through 2016, and also have the best combo of dependability and safety ratings, ownership costs, positive reviews from critics when the vehicles were new, as well as collision-prevention features. The 2016 Toyota Prius was tapped as the best used small car (as well as a top pick for 2016’s affordable small cars), with the average buyer paying between about $19K and $22.5K. The 2016 Buick /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM -1.81% LaCrosse drove off with the best used large car (and also scoring the No. 1 affordable large car title the year it came out), with the resell price in the ballpark of $18K to $25K.
Take a look at the best picks below, or read the full report here .