For teenage drivers, it’s imperative to avoid cars that are too fast, too big, too small, overly luxurious, a complete write-off, or loaded with technology (aka, distractions).
For a young person looking for their first car, safety and reliability should always come first — whether you’re on a budget or you’ve got lots of money to spend (or your parents are buying the car).
And no matter what vehicle you choose,
car insurance is essential. Teenagers generally pay higher premiums than more experienced drivers, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find great coverage at an affordable price.
Trusted insurance broker and comparison app
Jerry can help you do just that!
So, get ready to roll — just not in the following automobiles!
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12 cars that teenagers should avoid
When deciding what car to drive, you should always err on the side of safety and reliability, especially if you’re a new driver.
Getting your driver’s license is an important life milestone. But it’s so important for teen drivers to be prudent in deciding what to drive. As an inexperienced driver, picking
a fast, flashy car — or a poorly built one, for that matter — can have big consequences.
On that note, here are a dozen cars that teenage drivers should definitely avoid.
Chevrolet Aveo may fit into your budget, but it has a reputation as a poorly built car that doesn’t handle well.
A sweet, ‘lil Aveo is a dangerous car to drive? Don’t be fooled by its demure look or low price. If you’re an inexperienced teenage driver, the last thing you want is to be on a busy road in a shoddy car known for its lack of handling skills. Not a good combination.
If you’re on a strict budget, keep looking for a better-built car with a reputation for easy handling. Your safety may depend on it.
Chevy Astro Cargo Van
Big vans built between 1960–1990, such as the
Chevy Astro Cargo Van, are not suitable for teen drivers due to their age and lack of modern safety attributes.
There are many people out there who think "
it's a van—what could go wrong?" Plenty.
First off, the Astro is a big van, and it’s not ideal for a teen to be negotiating traffic in. Second is the aforementioned lack of modern safety features. You want a car to contain at least the following features, none of which the Astro has:
Electronic stability control
A driver’s side airbag at a minimum
You also want to be wary of the safety and
accident record of a car this age. Vans such as the Astro may be on the road with expired parts and may not have been taken in for recalls.
Key Takeaway Teens should avoid cars built before 1990. Don’t be fooled by the illusion that a van is "safe" just because of its size—it may not be.
Honda Civic Type R
With plenty of
horsepower, this compact sports car can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. Despite its size, the Type R has an angular body, making it easier to hit objects that you think you’ll avoid. A great little car, but not for teenagers.
Mazda RX 8
Mazda’s RX 8 may be a quick little speedster, but that’s one major reason a teenager should not be driving it. Plus the fact that its rotary engine requires a decent amount of maintenance — more so than the more common piston engine.
Besides the aforementioned maintenance, the RX 8 is known for its poor fuel efficiency. This isn’t a car for an inexperienced driver.
Dodge Caliber SRT4
Caliber is another affordable ride with a surprising amount of power, but its quality, handling, and interior leave a lot to be desired.
The Caliber offers more than 300 horsepower in a deceptively drab package that can appeal — at least on the surface — as a good car for a teen to have. But its power makes it dangerous, and therefore not a suitable fit for an inexperienced teenage driver.
Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
The Demon is incredibly fast, featuring more than 800 horsepower on standard fuel. That means it’s definitely not for teenagers.
It may be the definition of
a modern, affordable, American muscle car and features the most powerful HEMI engine Dodge has ever made. But let’s take a step back for a second — the car has Demon in its name. This may sound cool to the average teenager, but should put a good amount of fear into their parents.
The Demon’s size can also be an issue. With a wide, heavy body, the car can be difficult to maneuver in traffic. This one’s a definite no-go for teenage drivers.
Jeep Wranglers are a bad idea for teenage drivers because they give the impression that they can do anything. They cannot.
The Wrangler is a rugged 4x4 that can handle
a variety of difficult terrain, but that does not mean a teenage driver is up to the task of handling it.
This is precisely why teenage drivers should be steered away from this kind of rugged ride. A teenager with a vehicle like this scares parents and insurers alike.
No one wants to see a teenager think they can conquer the world by ramming their Wrangler through a fence or snowbank, or off-roading on their unsuspecting science teacher’s front lawn.
In short, the Wrangler is not a car for a teenage driver to learn on.
Key Takeaway 4x4s can be great fun, but they can be dangerous in the hands of an inexperienced driver.
Dodge Ram SRT10
The Dodge RAM SRT10 is not only
a sturdy truck, but one of the fastest trucks you can find. The latter feature makes it a dangerous choice for a teen driver.
A parent may think their teen is safer in a truck, and depending on the model, there may be some truth to this. But the Ram is not the truck to trust your teen in.
Not only is it big, but it’s fast. The Ram features an 8-liter V10 engine with 500 horsepower, going from 0-60 in just 5 seconds. That’s a lot of truck barreling down the roadway.
And its aforementioned size makes it a hassle to park and maneuver on city streets.
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Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
The Corvette may be America’s dream car, but in the hands of an inexperienced teen driver, it could be the stuff of nightmares. The ZR1 goes from 0-60 in an astonishing 2.85 seconds.
The Corvette is a fast and powerful car best left to enthusiasts and experienced drivers.
BMW’s M4 is an admittedly beautiful car, but its power and difficult handling make it a bad choice for a teenage driver.
Whipping over alpine roads through picturesque Bavarian towns in an M4 is a nice fantasy, but it's a reality that can be dangerous for young drivers. Despite BMW’s reputation for excellent handling, the M4 is a lot to handle and has been known to kick its back end out violently before straightening itself out.
Driving a powerful car featuring a very fast 3.0 six-cylinder engine with 460 horsepower can be a disaster in the making for a young driver encountering this kind of handling problem. The M4 is a ride best left to experienced drivers.
This massive and expensive vehicle is a bad idea for teenage drivers, precisely for those two reasons.
From tactical to practical? Not quite. When General Motors unveiled the Hummer to the world, the idea of driving a tank-like behemoth—to the office—was an intoxicating fantasy for many drivers. Put this beast in the hands of a teenager and any worries about damage a Wrangler can cause should be multiplied tenfold.
Back in reality, the Hummer is big, nigh-impossible to park, and difficult to handle in traffic. A Hummer driver has nowhere near the same margin of error in avoiding collisions as a driver in a normal-sized car.
Don’t get us wrong—the Hummer is a sight and features a beautiful interior and great sound system. If your teen wants to sit inside one, no problem. But driving a Hummer? Not a good idea.
Admittedly, this last one is for the Davos set. The McLaren 720S is effortlessly powerful and fast, and is not a good fit for most drivers, let alone teenagers.
The McLaren bests the aforementioned Corvette, going from 0-60 in an insane 2.8 seconds. The 720S is considered a supercar for a reason and should only be driven by trained and experienced drivers.
If you’ve got a ton of money to spend on your teen (and other things), don’t spend it on one of these. If you teenager wants a cool car to drive, make them earn it. Safety, reliability, and responsibility always come first.
A McLaren supercar can happen in a decade or so, on a closed course and with a helmet. Not anytime soon.
Everything you DON’T want in a car for a teenager
You might have noticed the cars on this list have some similar qualities. Here’s what you should not look for in a car for your teen:
Cars that are notorious for speed
As is obvious, speed can kill — especially in the hands of an inexperienced teen driver. It is never a good idea to drive something you can’t handle. Speed should not be a consideration for any teenager looking for a car.
Distractions coupled with speed is a dangerous combination. Nowadays, many cars have sophisticated consoles that pair with smartphones. While fun and convenient, these systems can be very dangerous if your attention strays from where it should always be: the road.
On the speed angle, sports cars, muscle cars, and luxury vehicles aren’t good for teen drivers to learn on. With teenage drivers, safety, reliability, and low maintenance should always win out over a fancy car.
Old cars: On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want to saddle yourself, or your teenager, with a car that’s well past its best before date. Sure, a beater may be cheap, but older cars aren’t as safe as newer vehicles and break down far more easily.
Key Takeaway Teenage drivers should always be steered away from any car that is fast and powerful. These cars can be dangerous in inexperienced hands and young drivers shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
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