• Aug 10, 2011
Having a car in high school can immediately vault you several rungs on the cool-kid class meter. However, choose the wrong car and you can actually lose points, sending your popularity down faster than the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Kelley Blue Book has put together a list of vehicles that it believes will appeal to the kids out there with driver's licenses, and we're not entirely sold on all of the choices.

Here is a quick breakdown of KBB's choices for both new and used vehicles:

New:
5. 2011 Chevrolet Cruze
4. 2011 Fiat 500
3. 2012 Ford Focus
2. 2011 Honda Fit
1. 2012 Hyundai Accent

Used:
5. 2007 Nissan Sentra
4. 2007 Ford F-150
3. 2007 Kia Sedona
2. 2008 Chevrolet HHR
1. 2007 Suzuki SX4

The new choices all make sense, since the vehicles are affordable, efficient and attractive enough not to make our inner teens cringe in shame. Something tells us the little Fiat might really score much higher on the desirability list.

The used car choices, however, have at least one eyebrow raiser in their midst. While we've grown to fully appreciate the utility of a minivan, there isn't a teenager in the entire country that wants to be seen driving one. Sure, they'd be able to pack all their friends inside, but teens aren't known for making sensible decisions.

We're also a bit curious about the F-150. Yes, it's best-selling vehicle in America and arguably the leader of its class, but it's hardly fuel efficient. Not quite an obvious choice in our minds.

Still, it's hard to say no to any car at that age, which explains why our first cars are far from our dream rides. We're curious: What was your first car? Feel free to sound off in the comments.


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  • 165 Comments
      Justin
      • 3 Years Ago
      The oldest car in the list is 4-5 years old for a high schooler / first car?
        MechE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Justin
        Yeah really, 8-10 years old should be about the average for a high school kids 1st car, or <$5,000. 10 year old cars are barely showing their age these days. In the 90's an 80's era GM car that was 10 years old and +100K miles was on its last leg worth about $350, and that would be a normal 1st car.
        jonnybimmer
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Justin
        Seriously, parents these days must be loaded with cash.
      bobmarley
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't think any new car for teens is a good choice unless they pay for it themselves so they fully appreciate it and learn to take care of it. But if they are buying a new car almost any new compact sedan is a decent car now days.
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      High School kids don't buy new cars! They're supposed to get crappy little secondhand used cars! My first car was my dad's hand-me-down Sterling. Biggest piece of crap I've ever owned. When my kid is old enough to drive, I'm not going to buy him anything that costs more than $5000 in today's money.
        jjund
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        Have faith in us! My car in high school was a new Honda Pilot from my parents, but once I got to college I bought myself a '94 Sabb 9000 Turbo.
        Dan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        Wow....Sterling. Almost forgot about 'em.
      nst1o1
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wouldn't recommend the HHR. I had one for a little over a year and a half and it was in the shop seven times which included replacing the throttle body twice and the computer once.
        Jay
        • 3 Years Ago
        @nst1o1
        The HHR also holds its value a little too well to warrant a purchase for a teenager, in my opinion. Even at 3-4 years old, you will be lucky to find a fairly basic model in good shape for under $10k. Not worth it considering your other options.
      Rob
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is a big error to buy an 18 y/o a new or almost new car. The odds are 90% It is going to get wrecked and/or abused. A good5 or 6 year old car is more pratical and let your little prince or princess kick in at least 50% towards the cost and the insurance to learn some responsibility and accountability. When i graduated high school and right before I started college I bought an 8 year old car and a full year of insurance with my own money by a J.O.B. I worked hard at. Mom and Dad also made sure it was clear that I paid for all the repairs and gas as well. It was that or 1) ride a bike 2) walk 3) take a bus.
        jonwil2002
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rob
        A big reason parents want their kids to be driving newer cars is that newer cars are going to have more safety features.
      Leather Bear
      • 3 Years Ago
      First car was a Triumph Spitfire Mk1 (1962 body, interior from a '64 donor car, and drivetrain from a '67). Had to sell 2 years later when I got a ticket and got bumped into the assigned-risk insurance pool (with a 1.2L engine and 65hp, they considered it a "high-performance sports car").
      Silent Dreams
      • 3 Years Ago
      My first car was a $1500 Samurai. I loved it to death and was sad when the engine went up on it after 70k miles of good times. Had the thing for 5 years and it went all over the country. Needless to say these days it belongs to some Desert rat with a passion for these things and found itself a full blown trailrig afterlife.
      ilmhmtu
      • 3 Years Ago
      The new list makes sense to me. Practical, cheap, and safe. Yes, safe. New cars are outfitted with so many airbags, crumple zones, and strong frames that it would be plenty safe for today's youths. That said, I wouldn't get a car for a teen that's worth over 5 grand, cause it will be trashed. All the cars in the used list are ridiculous except maybe the Sentra. My first car was a 1996 Accord EX 2-door. Hey, wait... I still have that car :) 187,000 miles and still chugging along.
      John
      • 3 Years Ago
      My first car was a 1977 Oldsmobile 98 Regency. It was almost a foot longer that a Suburban and had a 0-60 time on par with a train. It had brakes, but I do still wonder to this day if that is a true statement. It was upholstered with what I could best describe as a velvet couch (yes, the bench seat was basically it's own planet), the padding was at least 4" thick. To this day I have never driven anything as tippy, comfortable, slow and scary all in one. I still remember the time when a guy came up to the car in a rough neighborhood thinking it was a drug dealers car. (The mirror tint did not help)
      Phillip
      • 3 Years Ago
      My first vehicle was a 1957 Lambretta 3 wheel scooter, my first car was a 1953 Chevrolet I paid $20.00 for. Oh, yes it did run.
        donnieorama
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Phillip
        Those are much too pedestrian for today's youth--they've gotta have brand sports cars.
      emperor koku
      • 3 Years Ago
      The year: 2001. The car: a 1989 Merkur XR4Ti (w/stick). The cost: $1100 by way of McDonald's. My parents could have bought me a car but thought I should start learning the value of money and hard work. Is buying your kid a new or slightly-used car in their best interest? And, second, how many parents these days can really afford to buy their kid a car? Is this list for the top 10% or what?
        MechE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @emperor koku
        That is a nice first car, must have been a lot of fun and a lot of work to keep it working. I'd imagine you have to learn to work on it yourself or else just pay $$$$ for the unique repairs. I knew a guy that got a Merkur Scorpio (?) 4-dr and although he loved it had to deal with some costly repairs. I almost roped myself into a high mileage Subaru SVX, I have a feeling I dodged some costly upkeep on that one.
      the wheelerZ
      • 3 Years Ago
      First was a 1986 ford escort, bought for $900, then sold 4 months later for $800. And 2nd was my baby! 1983 Olds Delta 88, bought in 2003 for $500. An extra $400 to get it on the road including the safety check. Then drove it for 90,000 km only needing to buy a set of brake lines and a full set of tires, plus two winter tires. Finally traded it for a case of beer almost 5 years later!
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