Learning to drive is an exciting time for a teenager, as it’s a sign they’re growing up and gaining independence. But as a parent, you have the responsibility of helping your son or daughter drive in a safe and responsible way. One of the most important things you can do is pick a suitable car for them to learn in. Here are some helpful tips when choosing a car for your teenage driver.

Vehicle Size

Smaller vehicles tend to be easier to handle and maneuver, making them better options for someone who is learning to drive. Buying your teen a larger car comes with the risk that they can carry more passengers, which might prove distracting while they’re driving.

On the other hand, larger vehicles such as SUVs typically do better in crash tests and can make drivers feel more secure because they get to see the road ahead from an elevated position. Smaller cars often have less protection if they are involved in a collision.

To balance the benefits of compact cars with the advantages of larger, sturdier vehicles, you might want to consider a compact or mid-sized SUV for your teen. These vehicles often boast better safety records while also being easier to handle than large trucks and full-sized SUVs. For example, the Jeep Compass is a compact SUV with seating for five that’s powered by a 2.4-liter engine and capable of 31 mpg on the highway.


Young drivers are more prone to accidents due to their lack of experience behind the wheel, so you’ll want to look for a car for your teen with a strong safety record. Both the National Highway Transport Safety Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provide safety ratings for every vehicle, making them great resources when you’re starting your research.

Common safety features you should look for when choosing your teen’s new car include forward collision warning, which provides the driver with an audio or visual signal when a vehicle or other object is up ahead, and automatic emergency braking, which automatically puts on the brakes when it detects a potential collision. Many vehicles also come with a teen driver mode, which allows you to restrict the speed of the car and other features to help keep your kid safe.

Even if you purchase an older vehicle, you can buy driver assistance technology to install.


Teens don’t usually have a large budget to fund expensive repairs and maintenance, so it’s a good idea to pick a car that’s reliable. New cars might be more expensive to buy than used vehicles, but the advantage of getting a new one is it shouldn’t require costly repairs for some time to come.

If you do purchase a used car, make sure an expert auto mechanic examines it thoroughly and corrects any issues before your teen hits the road. Also ask the seller questions about the vehicle, including why they’re selling it and how many owners the car has had. Their answers to your questions can help you determine if the car is in good condition. For extra peace of mind, order a vehicle history report on any car you’re considering.

Fuel Economy

Whether your teen is paying for their own gas or you’ve agreed to help them with this expense, a car with decent gas mileage is much more affordable to run. Small SUVs and mid-sized sedans, for example, often have fuel economies ranging from 25 to 30 mpg, compared to large pickup trucks that can have gas mileage as low as 10 to 15 mpg. If your teen plans to drive to school daily or go on frequent outings with friends, these differences in fuel efficiency might have a big impact on long-term costs. 

Maintenance Costs

No matter how careful your teen is on the road, cars require maintenance during their lifetime. To ensure such costs are manageable for your teen, try to select a car with parts you can replace relatively cheaply. For example, buying a luxury vehicle might not be practical, because they have specialized components and advanced technology that can carry hefty price tags if they require replacing. Sports cars are also generally more expensive to maintain because they include parts designed for high performance.

Car Insurance

There’s no getting around the fact that car insurance for teens is expensive, but you can take several steps to keep those costs down. One of the most important considerations is the type of car your teen drives. Insurers charge different rates depending on the make and model of the car and how old it is. Therefore, before you complete a vehicle purchase for your teen, do your research with several auto insurers to find out what the premiums will cost.

You might also want to consider adding your teen to your own auto insurance policy. This can be an effective way to save money.

Include Your Teen in the Decision

While you might be tempted to choose a car yourself based on your research, including your teen in the decision-making process might prove more effective. By explaining to them the costs that come with owning a car and the risks involved with driving, you can use the buying process as an opportunity to teach them about taking care of their vehicle and driving safely. In addition, if your teen feels they have an influence on the type of car they get, they might be more likely to treat it with care and responsibility.

We hope our guide to buying your teen’s first car has answered your questions and concerns. But if you still have something on your mind, we’d love to hear from you at Huffines CJDR Plano. Would you like to learn more about the safety ratings of the Chrysler and Jeep vehicles in our inventory? Or do you have further questions about fuel efficiency? Our expert auto sales team is waiting to take your call. Contact us today to get the buying process started. Image via Flickr by RL GNZLZ


You may also like

2024 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overview

2024 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overview
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}