Safety, style and reliability make this list of cars top picks by AAA Auto Buying experts:
Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit TDI: Despite having compact exterior dimensions, these hatchbacks are roomy and flexible. Handling is predictable and stability control has been an option since 2003. The TDI (Turbo Diesel) is the diesel option, with lower horsepower and much better fuel economy ratings than the gasoline powered versions. Teens should avoid the speedier GTI (Grand Tourer Injection) edition; it can be too powerful for less experienced drivers.
Ford Focus: In addition to being pleasant to drive and a solid performer with good handling, the latest Focus models also give parents the MyKey feature, which will limit speed, radio volume and prevent teens from turning off safety systems. The Ford Focus provides good fuel economy advertising up-to-40 hwy mpg on the SE with SFE package.
Honda Civic: A perennial and parental favorite, the Honda Civic offers solid handling, a stout structure, easy maneuvering and good fuel economy. When shopping around, do note model types, as the Si model may be too powerful for younger drivers.
Hyundai Sonata (2011+): This newest Sonata is offered only with a four-cylinder engine. Handling is secure and the ride is comfortable. Beware of the turbocharged version; it is unnecessarily powerful for teenage drivers.
Ford Fusion: The Ford Fusion features secure handling and a comfortable ride. Increasing safety, upper trim levels in recent years can be equipped with an optional cross traffic alert feature, which makes backing out of a parking space with limited visibility safer. Choosing the four-cylinder motor or gasoline-electric hybrid are better choices for teen drivers.
Kia Sportage: The Sportage, one of Kia’s midsize crossover utility vehicles, handles well and received 4 stars and a “no tip” evaluation in the NHTSA New Car Assessment Program. The Sportage is economical, dependable and comes with a wide range of safety features.