If your teen is a newly licensed driver or has their driving permit, you may be considering cars for first-time drivers. As you’ll probably remember, getting your first car is one of the most exciting moments. For possibly the first time, you won’t be relying on someone else to take you where you need to go. But for parents, finding a good car for first-time drivers can be nerve-wracking. You want something safe, affordable, and reliable–which may mean that you have a very different priority list than your teen.

There are so many vehicle options to choose from–how do you know which one to pick? When deciding which vehicle is the right fit for your teen, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration. Examples include reliability, safety, and gas mileage. With all of this in mind, we’ve narrowed down some of the best cars for first-time drivers.

In Cars for First-Time Drivers, Safety is Key

When deciding on your first vehicle, safety is the most important factor you’ll want to consider. Driving a car that’s in good condition with excellent safety features will give you peace of mind while your child is on the road. Some key components you will want to look for in cars for first-time drivers include:


Airbags are made to deploy in the event of a crash to cushion both the driver and passenger from impact points such as the steering wheel, windows, and dash. They became standard in 1998, so look for cars with a year model from 1998 to now. 

Antilock brake system

Antilock brakes will prevent your wheels from locking up if you suddenly have to hit the brakes hard. This system uses sensors on each wheel to pulse the braking system during hard braking to prevent the wheels from locking up. This feature helps you to keep control of your car if you have to slam on your brakes.

Traction control

Traction control is a safety feature that limits how much the wheels can spin when accelerating. This means that you can rest assured that your tires have the most possible traction, even in wet or slippery conditions. Traction control systems pair with the antilock system to put the brakes on when a wheel starts to spin too fast, routing power to the opposite wheel to prevent skidding.

Safety belt 

Safety belts are one of the most obvious (and vital) safety features you will want to find in a vehicle. They secure the driver or passenger in their seat in the event of a collision or sudden stop. In 1964, a law changed that mandated seatbelts in all vehicles.

Tire pressure monitoring system

The tire pressure monitoring system is a relatively new standard safety feature on cars. It wasn’t until 2007 that automakers were required to include a TPMS on their vehicles. The system will detect and alert drivers to low air pressure on one or more of their tires. 

When looking to purchase a vehicle suitable for your teen, or if your teen is purchasing their own vehicle, you will want to ensure that it has all of these safety features first. Some good options include:

  • Toyota Camry
  • Honda Accord
  • Subaru Forester
  • Nissan Altima 

In Cars for First-Time Drivers, Fuel-Efficient is a Bonus

When it comes to fuel efficiency, you’ll want to get the most bang for your buck. Car manufacturers are coming out with more and more fuel-efficient vehicles every year and improving models that have been around for years. By purchasing a vehicle with excellent gas mileage, your teen will spend less time and money at the pump, and more time driving. Some great fuel-efficient options are:

  • Toyota Prius
  • Chevrolet Cruze Eco
  • Honda Civic

Another great option, if it falls within your budget, is an electric vehicle. In recent years, electric cars have extended their range to about 250 miles on one full charge. Some models can even get up to 350 miles on one charge. Another plus to choosing an electric vehicle is that the vehicle’s lifespan is around 200,000 miles. Some popular choices include:

  • Nissan Leaf
  • Chevrolet Bolt EV
  • Ford Mustang Mach-E

In Cars for First-Time Drivers, You’ll Want A Car That Is Repaired Easily

As a new driver, it’s possible that your teen may collect a few dings and dents along the way. This may not always be the case, but should you need to repair your car, you will want it to be easy. Some vehicles, such as German cars, can be harder to repair because not all mechanics are comfortable working on them. This means you will have to take your car to a specialist, which can add up quickly. By choosing a more popular vehicle, you’re ensuring that you will be able to find a mechanic or body shop worker that knows how to fix your car for a fair price. Some vehicles that are easy to make repairs to include:

  • Honda Civic
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Subaru Outback
  • Chevrolet Silverado 

Gifts for First Time Drivers

If you’re looking to buy a gift for a first-time driver, a gift card for gas or an oil change will go a long way. These expenses will be new, and covering their first tank of gas will help to ease some of that stress.

Another great option is jumper cables or an emergency kit. Often, drivers don’t have jumper cables, accident report kits, or cones ready when they need them and have to call for help. A portable battery-powered set of jumper cables will allow them to jump their car themselves, and an emergency kit will give you and your teen some peace of mind if a problem ever arises.

Lastly, for anyone that loves that “new car smell,’ consider gifting them a complete car care kit. They can keep their new car looking good on the inside and out. Buying a gift for a first-time driver will be sure to leave them happy and ready to get behind the wheel. 

Being a first-time driver can be a nerve-wracking experience on its own. Remembering to use your blinkers, keeping an alert eye on other drivers, and making sure to stay in your lane can all be stressful. But choosing your first car should be fun, and there are definitely cars better designed for first-time drivers than the rest. By doing your research and picking the car that best fits yours and your teen’s needs, you ensure a more comfortable and confident driving experience. 

Interested in helping your teen get their driving permit online? Click here to start the driving course today!