The Six Best Teen Cars for Cheap Insurance Rates

September 22, 2010

Hooked you on the title, right? Everyone with a teenager of driving age who wants a car to zip around with friends, to and from school and various activities is interested in the subject of best teen cars for cheap insurance rates.

Hey, it’s a tough topic in many households. I mean, kid wants to drive, parents are tired of toting them around at inconvenient hours (anytime becomes inconvenient after a while), but budgeting is tight these days and money isn’t getting any easier to come by. Then, there’s the whole issue of sky-high rates and risk pools and all that for teen drivers. Seems like the deck is stacked against parents and teens, doesn’t it? Well, there are some cars that are generally cheaper to insure for teen drivers – given the fact that the teen has a good driving record and a few other factors.

We’re not going to get into all those factors in depth here, except to note that driving record (at least three years in order to get a “good driver” discount), age, gender, location, type of vehicle, and amount of coverage all play a role in the amount of premium for the teen driver’s car. Keep in mind that new or newer cars have more standard safety equipment than some older models – and you want all the safety features you can get in a car for your teen: anti-lock brakes, extra airbags, electronic stability control, and traction control. Also look for models that scored better than average on government crash tests.

And now, the list

While there are certainly other cars that may offer reasonable (cheap relative to other cars) insurance rates for teen drivers, here are six that stand out. Maybe you drove one when you were a teen. At any rate, check them out. Your teen may thank you for it. And the family dinner table will be a lot less contentious.

1.    Ford Fusion - The mid-size Ford Fusion four-door sedan is mostly unchanged for 2011. Eye-catching style, available all-wheel drive, nice interior, great fuel economy (23 mpg city/33 mpg highway in base four-cylinder with six-speed automatic), and unique Ford SYNC system appeal to parents and teens.

Safety features, standard or optional abound, including six standard airbags, electronic stability control (ESC), traction control, and integrated blind spot mirrors, optional lane departure warning, and optional MyKey (which limits top speed to 80 mph, radio volume to 45 percent, and continuously chimes when seat belts are not fastened). Whether you buy this car for your teen or allow him or her to drive the family Fusion, it’s a great choice for less expensive insurance rates. Fusion is also a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

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2.    Ford Focus Dated styling (2011 is the last year before a much-needed redesign), but high fuel economy (25 mpg city/35 mpg highway in base inline four-cylinder and five-speed manual transmission), plenty of safety features (six standard airbags, electronic stability and traction control, optional MyKey), and available SYNC system make the 2011 Ford Focus a good choice for a commuter car for teens. It won’t win any beauty contests, but it may be less to insure.

2011 Ford Fiesta sedan

2011 Ford Fiesta sedan

3.    Ford Fiesta The all-new 2011 Ford Fiesta, on the other hand, available in hatchback and sedan models, is winning raves from automotive reviewers and young drivers alike. It’s fun to drive, has high build quality, is one of the least expensive small cars, and gets great fuel economy (estimated 29 mpg city/40 mpg highway). There’s a total of seven standard airbags – including side-curtain airbags and a driver’s knee airbag. And, like Fusion and Focus, integrated blind spot mirrors, ESC and traction control. The 2011 Ford Fiesta is the first minicar to win the Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS since the introduction of tough roof strength requirement for rollover protection. Ford also offers lots of options to customize Fiesta, further appealing to young drivers.

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4.    Honda Fit Kelley Blue Book named the Honda Fit one of its “10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000.” It’s easy to see why. Fit is versatile, fun to drive, and very fuel efficient (28 mpg city/35 mpg highway with four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission). Fit for 2010 also achieves a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in frontal crash testing, has six standard airbags and stability and traction control (Fit Sport with navigation).

5.    Honda Civic Another IIHS Top Safety Pick, the Honda Civic sedan is a traditionally inexpensive car to insure for teen drivers. Six airbags, ESC with traction control, and daytime running lights are standard. Fuel economy in the base four-cylinder engine with five-speed automatic transmission is 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway.

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6.    Chevrolet Cruze With a class-leading 10 airbags (including knee airbags for the driver and front passenger), the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, expected in dealer showrooms by the end of 2010, has outstanding safety features for a small car. It has not yet been tested by either NHTSA or IIHS. ESC and ABS are also standard. Fuel economy is 26 mpg city/36 mpg highway and up to 40 mpg highway with Cruze Eco.

Other best teen cars for cheap insurance rates to consider: Kia Soul, Nissan Cube, and Scion xB.

Note: It would be remiss not to mention other cars besides the Honda Fit that KBB designated as “10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000.” These include the Honda Civic, Nissan Cube, Scion xB, Kia Soul, and Ford Fiesta.

Bottom line: Check with your insurance provider regarding the best insurance rates for your teen driver. Be sure to inquire about premium differences between one vehicle and another. And stress the importance of maintaining a good driving record and getting good grades in school – both of which will have a significant impact on how much insurance will cost for them to drive.


[Chevrolet, Ford, Honda,  IIHS, KBB, NHTSA]

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