More Cheap, Safe New Cars for Teens

January 25, 2011

What’s the best vehicle to buy for your responsible teen to get around it? You want a reasonably priced one that gets good gas mileage and is equipped with lots of standard safety features. Your teen wants something that looks cool and drives like a hoot. Therein lies the challenge: how to accommodate the two often divergent views.

Here are five more selections FamilyCarGuide chose for their combination of affordability (base price under $20,000), abundant safety features, good looks, and great handling. The cool factor is up to your teen – but these might just fit the bill.

2011 Hyundai Elantra

 Updated for 2011, the compact five-seat Hyundai Elantra competes with the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Fiesta, and Honda Civic. Most reviewers say Elantra is no longer overshadowed by the competition but is now front and center as a compelling product offering. Starting base price for the GLS model is $14,830. Power comes from the 148-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine paired with either six-speed manual or automatic transmission resulting in EPA-estimated fuel economy of 29 mpg city/40 mpg highway. The Elantra features six airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and an intelligent vehicle stability management system. The Elantra also comes with Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. See why editors give Elantra an 8.2 (out of 10) overall rating here.

2011 Kia Forte 5-Door

2011 Kia Forte 5-Door

2011 Kia Forte 5-Door Hatchback

New to the Forte lineup for 2011, the Forte 5-Door hatchback carries a starting price of $16,895 (EX). Standard powerplant is the 156-horsepower 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission (six-speed automatic is optional). Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway (manual) and 26/36 with automatic. The Forte 5-Door hatchback is longer than the Ford Fiesta or Honda Fit. In addition, the Forte 5-Door has full-length side-curtain airbags, dual front seat-mounted side airbags and front advanced airbag system. Want more details? Read Bengt Halvorson’s piece in The Car Connection.

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