1984 Corolla

Top 10 cars for your teenage driver

We all remember coming of age, getting our driver's license and then pining after our first car. For most of us not born with a silver spoon, our first car was less than desirable, but now we look back on that old beater with fondness. Here are the best cars for today's coming of age.

My first car was a 1984 Toyota Corolla sedan - a golden four door with cruise control and air conditioning. It was a 5-speed manual and I couldn't tell you what the miles per gallon were. I bought it with 155,000 miles on it and spent $650. A princely sum when your job pays well under four bucks an hour and is only part time.

I have fond memories of that car. My parents firmly believed that buying a car for your kid only results in them wrecking it. That seemed to pan out, since all of my sisters were given cars and all of them got in wrecks. That little Corolla lasted until it hit 289,000 miles. I maintained it myself and put a lot of love into its care, though I wasn't exactly the nicest driver - I took that little car off road to various fishing holes and camping spaces often.

Still, that Toyota Corolla lasted a long time. It had the three things any great teenage car should have:

  • 1 - Cheap to buy and insure.
  • 2 - Reliability and easy maintenance so it's easy to care for and won't let you down.
  • 3 - Absolutely nothing that can get your teenager into trouble beyond the ability to deliver them to it - i.e. no racing ability, no excessive "coolness", etc.

Each of the following cars are great choices for the teenager. They can be had for under $2,500 and insured for very little. They're known for reliability and ease of maintenance too.


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These cars are reliable for their age but lack severely in safety. These cars (with the exception of the Taurus) are small and the IIHS has proven small cars are less safe. Even though the Taurus is a little bigger, it has no side airbags and didn't do all that well on the side test. The IIHS released a list of safest used cars for teens and suggest midsize or larger cars with stability control and good crash protection. While some budgets only allow for a cheap car, the IIHS recomends to pay a little more if you can. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people and while there is no perfect car,you are most likely to survive in a decent sized car with up to date safety features and good crash ratings. Some of these cars have high death rates and horrendous crash test records. When buying a car for a teen safety should be a factor in addition to cost.