Consumer Reports

Helping Your Teen Select Their First Car

Remember your very first car? Consumer Reports asked its auto test experts to remember theirs:

"A 1988 Subaru GL Coupe, manual transmission and I loved this car," one person said.

"A 1985 pickup truck. A friend of mine liked to refer to it as a rolling death trap," another reported.

Gone are those days. When it comes to buying cars for teens, Consumer Reports picks safety over style.

"You don't want a car that's really fast, that 's just going to entice young drivers to get in trouble," said Jen Stockburger, Consumer Reports Auto Expert.

So, no sports cars. Instead go for mid-size sedans or smaller SUVs. Avoid minivans, large SUVs and trucks. They are harder to handle and hold more passengers which can be distracting.

"Most parents are going to buy used so buy as much safety as your budget will allow you to afford," Stockburger said.

"When I was buying cars for my kids, I was definitely looking for airbags and stability control to keep them on snowy roads," said Patrick Olsen, Consumer Reports Auto Expert.

And keep them in their intended path. Also opt for forward-collision warning that alerts drivers of obstacles or vehicles in front -- and automatic emergency braking that senses a collision and applies the brakes if you don 't.

Like it or not kids will be tempted to use their phones in the car -- but Bluetooth lets them use phones hands-free so they keep their eyes on the road.

And as for those first cars?

"Nostalgic. It just brings back memories of high school," said Erik Dill, Consumer Reports Auto Expert.

If you're looking for which specific cars Consumer Reports recommends for teens, you can find a whole list of both new and used ones on their website.

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