• Mar 7, 2007
No matter how dramatic your explanations of how you walked barefoot uphill in the snow both ways are, the fact remains that teenagers will at least need access to a car from time to time. Given that your youngun' will be talking on the phone, listening to the radio, text messaging, chewing gum and chatting with passengers (all while breaking graduated-licensing laws), you want to give him or her the best chances of surviving a possible crash. Better yet (especially for the passengers, who never seem to fare as luckily as the driver), a car that can handily avoid an accident is the safest of all. That's part of the reason why we Autobloggers like a little starch in the ride, swift action from the steering, good strong brakes and enough power to get the hell out of the way should the need arise.

Forbes Magazine also sees the need for kids to have cars that emphasize safety. They've compiled their list of Smart Cars for Teen Drivers, and that doesn't mean a bunch of those little bean-shaped things, either. Forbes picked 15 cars as good rides to put teenagers in. While they may not all generate a lot of excitement in the hearts of the kids they envision getting behind the wheel, we don't see a problem with them. After all, we sure didn't get new cars when we started driving. We delve into a few of the picks after the jump.

[Source: Forbes}

It makes a certain amount of sense to put the youngest, most inexperienced driver in the newest and safest car in your fleet. In an effort to keep things close to reality, Forbes figured that parents shopping for a "kid's car" would be looking to maximize value. Only vehicles with base prices below $20,000 were considered, and cars without accident-avoidance ratings from Consumer Reports or J.D. Power were also kicked out. NHTSA test ratings below two stars and a lack of rollover-resistance numbers gave Forbes further criteria to eliminate vehicles. Making the list this year are the Ford Fusion for safety (high scores in IIHS crash tests), good chassis dynamics, high quality and reasonable price. The Honda Civic's good handling means it can stay out of trouble, while low buy-in price and reliability make it a good choice on virtually everyone's list. The Hyundai Sonata also makes the cut with lots of five star safety ratings and high quality overall. Hyundai has been refining and improving its cars steadily, and the current Sonata is arguably the best value on the market for a family-size sedan.

Forbes attempted to analyze matters as if it was the parent. Cars without good fuel economy were eliminated, and insurance costs were also taken into account. Motorheads like us are left cold by this "by the numbers" method of car purchasing, but for 99 percent of the car-buying world, it has merit. We just hope that little Biff and Buffy know how lucky they are to be provided with a brand-new car to trash.

The complete list is as follows. Head over to Forbes for the rationale behind each selection
  • Chevy Malibu
  • Chrysler PT Cruiser
  • Ford Escape
  • Ford Fusion
  • Honda Accord Sedan
  • Honda Civic
  • Honda Element
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Kia Spectra
  • Mercury Milan
  • Pontiac Vibe
  • Subaru Outback Wagon
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota Matrix


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  • 84 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I find this amusing. Putting one of the most dangerous vehicles in rollover accidents (Ford Escape)on this list for young drivers (who are more likely to not know how to handle an SUV) is just plain stupid. Yeah, good idea to let them drive these if you want to see your kids head smashed. Trust me, I done the roof crush testing to know that the roofs on the Escape are just plain garbage.
      • 7 Years Ago
      brakes*
      • 7 Years Ago
      Every kid wants that Subaru Outback wagon...riiiiight.

      Not a bad list persay, but I dont think kids should get new cars. Get a nice used one instead.

      Now for the Forbes bashing...stop doing lists. You suck at it and it isn't reporting, it's filler.
      • 7 Years Ago
      #11 is right. I honestly feel that playing racing simulators like Gran Trurismo as a kid has made me a better driver when it comes to how a car handles. You learn nothing like this in drivers ed. There have been a few occurances that I've gotten myself out of spin (ice) that could have been otherwise a crash because of my reflexes. I just know what to do and how the car will react.

      As for the guy saying you should be 21 to drive, you are out of your mind. I've had a job since I was 15 and I'm a month away from 20. If I didn't have a car starting when I was 16 I would have a hard time getting to work. I'm now a sophomore in college and I don't think I could go there if I didn't have a car. I commute 15 miles to college and 15 miles to work.
      Bryan
      • 7 Years Ago
      I remember both of my 1st cars. Yes, my grandparents spoiled me. I started driving in 94 and and drove a 93 F150 supercab, and a 91 Pontiac Grand Prix. Did not keep the GP long, it had over 70k miles when bought and was just troublesome. We kept the the truck until 99 or 2000, and sold it because it was not being used. I drive a truck now (have had cars and trucks on and off). I think the best vehicle today for a kid to drive is a truck. Why? Well most of them are pretty safe, you can make your child learn responsibility and get a job and pay for their own gas. With gas prices so high, they shouldnt be as tempted to go fast especially paying for gas out of their pocket. In my opinion, cars and teens do not go together. Many of them are deathtraps. I lost a few friends, and a few people I didnt know, in auto accidents in HS. In fact, that was the only cause of death to students when I was in school. No one ever died from anything but an auto accident. Oh and everyone, ignore Jeff, he is just as bad as Ben a Turd for life. They aren't on here to discuss issues they are on here to act like little immature children. They are exactly the type who should NOT have a license.
      • 7 Years Ago
      nothing wrong with buying your kid a 86' jetta.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I should have added that Audis or Bimmers are not cheap to fix.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I can't think of a single good reason to buy a new 16 year old driver a brand new car over a good used car. The insurance will be sky high, the odds that it gets damaged are ridiculously high, and it teaches the teenager poor money management. I know I was one of the most responsible of my friends simply because I was in charge of paying for any repairs to my used car and for paying the insurance (all paid for using summer job money). There's so many reliable used cars out there for a fraction of the price that buying a new car for a teenage driver is like burning a huge pile of money.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What we need is to ban distracting things like cell phones from being used. That includes alot of things including the radio but we don't need to be that drastic. And we should have annual license retests or something of that sort. The mistakes people make are incredible. Lets not just go after young kids, they learn from adults and they are big offenders also. If everyone pays attention, remembers that we are playing with human lives, and leaves home earlier then we won't have this danger
      • 7 Years Ago
      i'm #44....

      I KNOW! Teenagers from my era SUCK at driving, i'll be the first to admit it. Drivers ed is a joke, the regulations against not having peers in your car until 6 months after acquiring your license is hardly upheld.

      #48, you're right. I just didnt want to get WAY too cocky.

      and #49, my ford is in nearly Mint condition (minus wear and tear of everyday driving, etc). The fact that i have a car that new makes me want to take absolute perfect care of it. I understand (but disagree with) your idea behind teens having a newer car. I take care of my explorer very well.
      • 7 Years Ago
      21? are you fucking kidding me?

      The problem is that the "pimp factor" is such a big selling point. i drive a 1984 camaro with no radio,much less a DVD player or gigantic 27in rims. (i have 16" anthracite American racing wheels in my garage,but they're not going on until the snow clears.) The aftermarket needs to stop marketing so much emphasis on entertainment and gadgetry. I've had my license for less than a year.(have been driving around my farm for longer.)My 1986 buick Regal was totaled by a kid talking on his cell phone in a white 2000ish honda civic. one of your "Safe" cars. he merged lanes into me and pushed my car under a tanker,crushing it from the c pillar back. He ducked out and ran. Distraction is the problem,and so is the emphasis on parallel parking. Handling a car at less than 30mph alone like on the driving test is easy. I'd like to see a requirement that you take the test on a manual,personally.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I forgot to add that apart from the 91 Caravan, I gave the majority of cash for purchasing the rest of those vehicles except the Cherokee (bought the Stratus outright, payed for 60/40 split with my parents on the Wrangler). The Cherokee was an exception because my dad wanted a Magnum and saw the car with the most resale value (and the one that was having 'slight' issues) was my Wrangler, so they traded it and got $7,500 out of it as opposed to the $5 grand the Cherokee is worth, so I'm not counting it that I got a "free car" for this last one.
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