Ford Fusion

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