Finding the right car for a first-time driver can be an ordeal, especially if the new driver happens to be a teenager. From the way the vehicle handles to its safety in a crash, there are plenty of factors to consider when selecting that first car. We’ve done the legwork for you to find some of the best cars for new drivers, and have assembled a list of best cars for first-time drivers.
Things to Consider When Buying a Car for a New Driver
To come up with our list of the best cars for new drivers, we used the following qualities to narrow down our choices:
- Vehicle Safety: In addition to an IIHS five-star crash safety rating, we feel that any car for a new driver should include a forward collision warning system, a crash notification system, and a backup camera.
- Fuel Economy: First-time drivers don’t always pay attention to their fuel tanks, so a car with good fuel economy can help minimize the risk of running out of gas.
- Price: Any car for a first-time driver should ideally cost less than $25,000.
- Reliability: First-time drivers have enough on their plates without worrying about their cars breaking down. A reliable vehicle allows new drivers to concentrate on the road, not on the car.
- Type of Vehicle: Midsize sedans are best for new drivers. Smaller cars don’t fare well in crashes, sports cars encourage reckless driving, and trucks and SUVs are more difficult to control and more likely to roll over. We’ll be concentrating on midsize sedans for our list.
If you’re planning to buy a new 2016 vehicle for a new driver, any of the following cars could be an excellent choice.
2016 Honda Accord Offers Great Fuel Economy and Driver Assistance Tech
The 2016 Honda Accord has been newly redesigned, offering a fresh, aerodynamic exterior wrapped around a roomy and comfortable interior. The Accord is a perennially reliable car that’s easy to handle and pleasant to drive. It offers good fuel economy and a host of optional driver assistance technologies, including adaptive cruise control and lane keeping, to keep first-time drivers safe.
Specifications: 185 horsepower, 0-60 mph time of 7.6 seconds, top speed of 125 mph. An optional V6 engine is available.
Starting Price: $22,205.
Interior Tech: Voice-activated navigation and infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Standard Safety Features: Front airbags, side curtain airbags, back-up camera, and active front head restraints.
Optional Features: Blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, and front collision warning with automatic braking.
2016 Ford Fusion Comes with the MyKey System to Keep New Drivers Safe
With its sculpted design reminiscent of Aston Martin’s legendary styling, the Ford Fusion is one of the sharpest looking vehicles that a new driver can enjoy. The Fusion handles well and is well equipped with voice control technologies to keep drivers focused on the road. Ford also offers the MyKey system to help teens ease into the responsibilities of driving. When the system is engaged, parents can set limits on top speed, incoming texts and calls, music volume and more.
Specifications: 175 horsepower, 0-60 mph time of 7.5 seconds, top speed of 125 mph. There are three other optional engines available: a turbocharged 4-cylinder with 181 horsepower, a turbocharged 4-cylinder with 245 horsepower, and a V6 twin-turbo engine with 325 horsepower. It would be best to stick with the 175 HP engine for the first time driver.
Starting Price: $22,120.
Interior Tech: The Fusion comes with Ford Sync, a voice-activated infotainment and navigation system that allows drivers to control all features of the car with their voice.
Standard Safety Features: Front knee airbags, side curtain airbags, and front side airbags.
Optional Features: Lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, rear cross traffic alerts, front collision warning and mitigation, blind spot monitoring, drowsy driver detection, inflatable rear s
eat belts, and automatic emergency notification.
2016 Chrysler 200 did a Great Job on Eliminating Distractions for New Drivers
Although the Chrysler 200 doesn’t win any awards for style, this vehicle features a cabin that’s tailor-made for the new driver. The car’s infotainment system is laid out thoughtfully for ease of use, and its big icons and intuitive design reduces distraction. The 200 offers a number of safety features to make the road safer for new drivers. The rear seat isn’t terribly roomy, but that may be a blessing in disguise for new drivers; with less room for extra passengers, the driver might not have to deal with the distractions that can come with extra occupants and focus on getting used to driving safely.
Specifications: 184 horsepower, 0-60 mph time of 8.4 seconds, top speed of 118 mph. An optional V6 engine is available.
Starting Price: $21,995.
Interior Tech: Chrysler Uconnect system with touchscreen, integrated voice commands, hands-free calling, and voice-based texting and voice recognition.
Standard Safety Features: Rearview camera (not available in the base model), side curtain airbags, front side airbags and front knee airbags.
Optional Features: Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, rear cross traffic alerts, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning with lane keeping assist.
2016 Subaru Impreza Scores High on the List Thanks to Its Handling Prowess and Active Safety Tech
The boxy, choppy exterior of the 2016 Subaru Impreza belies its roomy interior; despite its outward appearance, the Impreza boasts one of the roomiest interiors in its class. With its standard all-wheel drive transmission, this vehicle is a top choice for any new driver who may experience slick, slippery conditions. The engine is powerful enough to get out of trouble, but it’s not powerful enough to tempt inexperienced drivers to get into trouble. The Impreza also features a number of active safety technologies to help keep teen drivers safe, including collision warning.
Specifications: 148 horsepower, 0-60 mph time of 8.6 seconds, top speed of 122 mph.
Starting Price: $18,295.
Interior Tech: Subaru Starlink voice-activated infotainment system, Bluetooth hands-free calling, and voice-activated GPS system.
Standard Safety Features: Rearview camera, active front head restraints, side curtain airbags, front side airbags, and driver knee airbag.
Optional Features: Adaptive cruise control, front collision warning with automatic braking, and lane departure warning.
2016 Chevrolet Malibu Keeps New Drivers Safe with Teen Driver System
Chevrolet redesigned its classic Malibu model for 2016, giving the vehicle a sleek, powerful look that will make any first time driver proud to sit behind the wheel. The interior is polished, classy, and roomy, and the car features a number of technologies to keep the ride quiet and pleasant. In addition to its reliability and easy handling, the Malibu features a Teen Driver system that places a number of safety restrictions on the vehicle. Parents can also access a report card through the system that provides detailed information on the teen’s driving habits.
Specifications: 163 horsepower, 0-60 mph time of 8.0 seconds, top speed of 130 mph. An optional 250 horsepower engine is also available.
Starting Price: $21,625.
Interior Tech: Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, hands-free calling, compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and OnStar safety system.
Standard Safety Features: Front side airbags, rear side airbags, side curtain airbags, front knee airbags, and the OnStar telematics system
Optional Features: Lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, front and rear parking sensors, rearview camera, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, rear cross traffic alerts, and blind spot monitoring.
2016 Mazda 6 Brings Great Styling and Active Safety Technologies
The Mazda 6 features a swooping, elongated hood and sleek styling, making this one of the most attractive cars in its class. Drivers love this car, and it’s a favorite among new drivers who enjoy driving for its own sake. Despite its crisp handling and speedy attitude, the Mazda 6 is one of the safest vehicles around; it includes a number of active technologies designed to prevent crashes and keep its occupants safe if a crash does happen.
Specifications: 184 horsepower, 0-60 mph time of 7.3 seconds, top speed of 135 mph.
Starting Price: $21,495.
Interior Tech: Touchscreen tablet infotainment and navigation system with voice command options, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, and audio playback of text messages.
Standard Safety Features: Rearview camera (not available on the Sport model), active front head restraints, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags.
Optional Features: Blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alerts, and forward collision warning with automatic braking.
2016 Toyota Camry Comes with Safety Connect that Calls for Help if Needed
The Toyota Camry is a long-running model that has earned its place on the list of best cars for first time drivers through decades of dependable performance. It won’t wow bystanders or win many races, but it does its job of ferrying drivers to their destinations safely and comfortably. It features fairly standard exterior styling wrapped around a roomy and comfortable interior. Camry offers a multitude of safety features to new drivers, and they will appreciate the Safety Connect system; in addition to an emergency assist button, the system can automatically notify emergency services of a collision and help police locate the vehicle if it’s ever stolen.
Specifications: 178 horsepower, 0-60 mph time of 7.9 seconds, top speed of 115 mph. An optional V6 engine is available.
Starting Price: $23,070.
Interior Tech: Wireless charging, voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic alerts, voice-activated Entune app suite, and hands-free voice-activated calling.
Standard Safety Features: Rearview camera, front and rear side airbags, front knee airbags, and side curtain airbags.
Optional Features: Lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alerts, front collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring.
When choosing a vehicle for a first-time driver or a teen, it’s important to pick a vehicle that is safe, reliable and easy to use. Keeping the price below $25,000 keeps the cost of a new vehicle manageable, and good fuel economy helps in managing the cost of fueling the car. Modern technology can help compensate for inexperienced drivers while minimizing distractions from within the cabin, ensuring that they stay safe on the road.