Top 5 Cars for Teen Drivers

Many cars have excellent safety features—but can you guess which ones top this list for your teen driver?

couple driving together

The teenage rite of passage: learning to drive. But what car is best for your newly licensed teen? And does “best” mean most bang for your buck, coolest, most fuel-efficient? With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans aged 16-19, Quoted defines “best” in terms of safety.

If most American teenagers want one thing, it’s freedom, and the ability to drive where and when they please opens a whole new world of experience. But if parents want one thing, it’s for their kids to be safe. How to reconcile the two, especially with videos like these depicting real life teenagers driving while distracted? If you’re going new, Consumer Reports recommends choosing the newest model, with the best reliability stats and the most safety features and equipment (especially antilock brakes, electronic stability control, and multiple, multistage airbags), that you can afford. And if you’re in the market for a used car, look for one with the most advanced safety features, and choose one with the best crash-test record. In general, bigger and heavier will mean safer, and steer clear of cars with extra power–like turbo and increased horsepower.

Quoted’s Top 5 Cars for Teen Drivers:

And, drum roll please, the number 1 car for teens: The 2016 Chevy Malibu

While many cars offer excellent safety features and get across-the-board high marks on crash data, Chevy has combined the latest in safety with a truly innovative driving system tailored to not only protect your new driver, but to actually help them learn good driving habits. All the safety features in the world won’t help a teen who isn’t wearing their seatbelt, or who hasn’t learned that looking at the radio for several unbroken seconds, then abruptly swerving back into their lane is not a safe way to drive. Parents and Drivers Ed teachers work hard to teach and reinforce good driving behavior, but Quoted is excited about a new way of seeing the picture: using the car itself, along with the teen’s actual driving record, to teach safe driving habits, point out areas for improvement, and offer the latest in safety technology when needed.

The car won’t be revealed until the New York Auto show next week (April 3-12), but Chevy has teased some details already. Engadget reports that the sedan will have a Teen Driver feature (that can be turned on and off by a parent, making it a good choice for the whole family). The overarching aim appears to be teaching teens good habits in real-time, with consequences if drivers don’t follow the rules. For example, if front seat belts aren’t fastened, the radio will automatically mute until belts are engaged. Anyone who’s ever ridden in a car driven by someone dead-set against fastening their belt, despite repeated beeping warnings, and seen the driver just raise the music to drown out the safety feature will appreciate this smarter, firmer consequence.

The 2016 Chevy Malibu won't let you listen to music until you buckle your seatbelt.

In addition to forcing good behavior by taking away privileges (hey, it worked when they were little!), the 2016 Malibu also features safeguards if teens get into trouble on the road—like having a parent watching over their shoulder, ready to help. Parents can set a maximum speed limit, and the car also gives drivers both audio and visual warnings if they exceed the posted speed limit. There are active safety features, such as forward collision alert, to help avoid a crash. The car keeps track of the driver’s stats, so parents can view a report card summary of what happened while their teen was on the road. The report includes distance traveled, the maximum speed the teen hit, how many over-speed warnings the teen received, and the number of forward collision alerts the car gave. The Malibu will also keep track of how often the car used stability control, which will alert parents to possible unsafe driving (such as looking away from the road, then abruptly correcting).

The Chevy Malibu is more than the sum of its parts and more than the latest in safety technology. Crash data showing that 16-19 year old drivers are three times as likely to die in a car crash than drivers over 20 proves that teenagers need more guidance and reinforced safety habits in the early days of their driving careers. We hope Chevy’s smart, interactive Teen Driver system spurs other manufactures to follow suit.

The 2016 Chevy Malibu will be unveiled at the New York Auto Show next week, where we’ll get our first look at the exterior, and see detailed demonstrations of the Teen Driver feature. Stay tuned!