Kiplinger’s Personal Finance announced the 10 Best Cars for Young Drivers, a list of youth-friendly new and used vehicles that won’t bust the budget and get high marks for both safety and reliability. The 10 Best Cars for Young Drivers is available exclusively online.
Each of this year’s picks received a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and have stability control and at least six airbags. Kiplinger’s also looked for the technology kids want, including Bluetooth and USB or iPod hookups that allow you to select songs on an in-dash screen.
“Whether you have a high-schooler looking for a first car or recent graduates setting out on their own, safety and reliability are top of mind,” said Jessica Anderson, Associate Editor at Kiplinger’s. “Our list combines safety and value with the features that tech-savvy young adults crave, spotlighting reliable vehicles that are fun to drive.”
Used-car prices are from Kelley Blue Book and assume very good condition and average mileage for their age. New cars are listed with sticker price, invoice price and KBB’s Fair Purchase Price to give buyers an idea of negotiating room. All models are priced with automatic transmission. Five-year service costs—the expected outlays for maintenance and repairs—are from Vincentric.
2011 Honda Civic—Honda’s Civic is a perennial pick for good value. The three-year-old Civic costs about one-third less than the new version. Besides navigation, Bluetooth and a USB port are standard. Used dealer price for EX-L model with Nav: $17,245
2011 Kia Soul—With its funky looks and plentiful amenities, the Soul + is a bargain. It handles like a go-kart but doesn’t have too much power, plus has plenty of legroom and storage space. Used dealer price for + model: $14,107.
2011 Scion xB—The Scion xB was created with younger drivers in mind, featuring quality at a lower price and looks that millennials love. The roomy interior is complemented by a peppy engine that puts out 158 horses. Used dealer price for xB base model: $14,662.
2011 Volkswagen Golf—VW’s versatile Golf hatchback is more than meets the eye. Available in both gas and diesel configurations, it is thrifty on fuel and no skimp on power. It has a nimble feel and is sneakily spacious with plenty of cargo space. Used dealer price for 2.5L 4 dr model: $13,882.
2014 Chevrolet Spark—This minicar might be small, but it’s packed with features including ten airbags and Chevy’s MyLink connectivity system that allows you to connect smartphones via USB or Bluetooth for calls and music. Sticker price for 1LT model: $15,820.
2014 Kia Optima—Sporty styling keeps the Kia Optima looking cool while it provides for all your young driver’s needs. The base engine is powerful but efficient and a hybrid model is available. Sticker price for LX model: $22,300.
2014 Mazda6—The sharply carved exterior beckons you inside where you’ll find premium materials and features. USB is standard and the i Sport model comes with Bluetooth, a rearview camera, Pandora Internet radio and SMS text messaging that can read texts aloud. Sticker price for i Sport model: $23,490.
2014 Mazda CX-5—The base model has a class-leading highway mileage of 35 mpg; the Touring model adds Bluetooth, Pandora Internet radio, rearview camera and blind spot monitor. Sticker price for Touring model: $25,645.
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport—Mitsubishi’s small SUV has scored high reliability for years, plus, it’s fun to drive, seats five comfortably and has copious cargo space. Bluetooth and USB are standard; upgrade to the SE for a rearview camera. Sticker price for ES model: $21,520.
2014 Nissan Rogue—Nissan’s best-selling crossover seats up to seven, has a comfortable and spacious cabin and keeps annual fuel costs to just $1,800. Bluetooth and USB are standard, and additional technology includes Nissan’s Around View Monitor. Sticker price: $23,650.