If you simply want the fastest answer to that question, without explanation, we would say the Honda Civic is the best all-around car for teens. The Toyota Corolla would be a close second.
If you don’t like the Civic or Corolla there are other cars with similar characteristics and different styling that might suit you better.
But what is it about the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and similar models that make them great as a first car for teenage drivers?
First, they are economical — relatively inexpensive to buy, inexpensive to insure, and inexpensive to drive.
It doesn’t cost much to buy a new or relatively new Civic. Used models might be a little higher priced that other brands but that works in your favor too. When you get ready to sell or trade, Honda and Toyota vehicles hold their resale value better than most.
Second, these cars have outstanding gas mileage, better than some hybrids, as much as 36 miles per gallon. And they run on regular fuel, the least expensive kind. Maintenance doesn’t cost much because the cars are so reliable — far more reliable than many other brands. The cars are relatively small and are driven by 4-cylinder engines that perform as well as many 6-cylinder models.
Next, the Civic and Corolla are safe. Many people equate small size with poor safety. Not true. The Civic and Corolla have “Top Safety Pick” ratings by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and consistently score well in Government crash tests. Both cars come with better than average safety features. Some models have Stability Control Assist, which is especially important for inexperienced drivers, and is highly recommended for all teenagers.
Finally, the Civic and Corolla are relatively inexpensive to insure, especially for teen drivers who pay the highest rates anyway. Four-door sedan versions are less expenisve to insure than 2-door coupes.
We’ve discussed our choices for best first car for teens. If you should decide on a different make or model, whether you buy new or used, make sure it has most of the same characteristics of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
You can get free price quotes for any of the mentioned vehicles at Edmunds.com. The prices you get will contain any price discounts and manufacturer incentives currently available.