When shopping for a car for a new driver, priorities may be different than they would be for someone with years of experience on the road — namely, safety features will likely be of the utmost importance.
“When shopping for a car for a teen, parents should look for safety features that can help prevent crashes, while also helping the teen develop their driving skills,” said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars. “Features like forward collision warning and front automatic braking can help when a teen has misjudged stopping distance. Lane-keep assist can provide real-time feedback as teens learn to hold their lane position. Of course, teens and their parents should not be dependant on these features, but they can provide a little bit of a safety net to new drivers.”
Parents may also want to choose a car that allows them to track their teen’s car usage.
“Features like smartphone apps or teen driver settings can help parents monitor or limit their teen’s driving,” Deaton said. “These are great tools, though parents should use them to continue the conversation about safe driving with their teens, not to play ‘gotcha’ or spy.”
No matter what your budget, there are cars available that provide many features that can give parents peace of mind when their teen hits the road. Here’s a look at U.S. News’ 2021 Best New Cars for Teens at every price point.
Best New Car for Teens $20,000-$25,000: 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid
The Hyundai Elantra Hybrid was chosen as one of U.S. News’ 2021 Best Cars for Teens because it is packed with a number of safety features including lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. These features come standard on the base Blue model, which has a sticker price of $23,550.
As a hybrid, it also boasts an excellent fuel economy — up to 53 mpg in city driving and 56 mpg on the highway.
Best New SUV for Teens $20,000-$25,000: 2021 Hyundai Kona
The 2021 Hyundai Kona was chosen as a best SUV for teens thanks to its safety technology, high crash test ratings and an above-average quality and reliability rating (81 out of 100) from J.D. Power.
Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert come equipped on the SEL trim, which starts at $22,300.
Best New Car for Teens $25,000-$30,000: 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
A high fuel efficiency — 59 mpg in combined city and highway driving — a plethora of safety features and a high dependability score all make the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid an excellent choice for teens at this price point.
The SE trim level comes equipped with automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The SE trim starts at $25,350.
Best New SUV for Teens $25,000-$30,000: 2021 GMC Terrain
The 2021 GMC Terrain comes standard with GM’s Teen Driver technology, which tracks driver behavior behind the wheel, and allows parents to set speed limits and see reports on their teen’s speed, distance and any activation of the forward collision warning system.
The SLE trim — which starts at $28,400 — has an available GMC Pro Safety Plus Package for an additional $695. This comes with blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
Best New Car for Teens $30,000-$35,000: 2021 Nissan Altima
The Nissan Altima has plenty of the top safety technology features available in any new midsize car on the market, US. News reported. The 2.5 Platinum trim with all-wheel-drive has numerous standard and available features including blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree camera.
The Altima also comes equipped with NissanConnect, a tool that parents can use to set alerts for their teen’s speed, curfew and location.
The Platinum trim with Intelligent AWD has a starting MSRP of $34,250.
Best New SUV for Teens $30,000-$35,000: 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid
The Kia Sorento Hybrid comes equipped with a wide range of safety features, including blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, forward collision warning and emergency automatic braking. It also comes standard with Kia’s UVO Link Remote Connectivity, which can send parents alerts if their teen has driven past any set boundaries. And because it’s a hybrid, it gets good gas mileage as well.
The 2022 Sorento Hybrid has a starting MSRP of $33,990.
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Best New Car for Teens $35,000-$40,000: 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid
The Toyota Camry Hybrid comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense suite, which includes technology like automatic emergency braking and lane-keep assist. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional safety add-ons. The Camry Hybrid is also available with Toyota’s Remote Connect feature, which lets parents set up alerts for speed, curfews and geographic boundaries.
The 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid is one of five hybrid cars to be chosen as a best car for teens.
“There is nothing special about a hybrid powertrain that makes a hybrid a good choice for a teen driver — though a lot of teens will appreciate the lower carbon emissions and spending less on gas,” Deaton said. “A lot of hybrids made the list this year because car companies tend to load their hybrid models with lots of active safety features. Since those are the same features that can help keep teens safe, selecting one of the hybrids from this list just makes sense.”
The 2021 Camry Hybrid starts at $27,270.
Best New SUV for Teens $35,000-$40,000: 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
Not only is the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid a best car for teens, but it’s also U.S. News’ top-ranked hybrid and electric SUV overall. The Santa Fe Hybrid comes standard with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist, as well as Hyundai’s Blue Link technology. This enables parents to set curfews and geofencing boundaries.
The Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid — which starts at $33,750 for the 2022 model — is one of four Hyundai models that was recognized by U.S. News as a best car for teens.
“Hyundai has a tendency to offer a lot of safety features for the money, which makes their cars good choices for new drivers,” Deaton said. “Features like a smartphone app for monitoring teen drivers, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, plus generally good crash test scores make these Hyundai models good fits for all drivers, but particularly those who are still developing their skills.”
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Photo Disclaimer: Please note some photos are for illustrative purposes only and might not feature exact models, base models or the cars’ specific trim levels. As a result, some of the cars in the photos might have different MSRPs than the ones listed in this article.