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Auto Club Automotive Research Center’s 2016 Best Cars for Teens

teen driver gets keys

Your son or daughter just turned 16 and is going to get their driver’s license.  But what will they drive?


The family car?  A used car?  A new car? Teens may want a sporty car and parents may want something large and presumably safer. What should families do?  


During National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 16-22, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) reminds teens and their parents to review what it means to be a safe and responsible driver. That’s because car crashes are the number one cause of death and injury for teens, and one in five teen drivers will be in a crash during their first year of driving.   


The Auto Club’s ARC has released its 2016 list of Best Cars for Teens.  The list can help guide parents during the decision-making process when buying or leasing a vehicle for their teen driver or determining which existing family car to let their novice driver use.  The list consists of midsized cars and crossovers which met certain criteria, including government crash-test scores. 


“In order to help new drivers with limited driving experience and parents who may think that bigger is better, AAA recommends a midsized sedan or small crossover with a 4-cylinder engine, automatic transmission and high crash-test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” said ARC Manager of Automotive Engineering Megan McKernan.  


The ARC selected only vehicles that scored NHTSA’s maximum 5 stars overall.  Cars not tested by NHTSA were not included on the list.  The manufacturer suggested retail prices (MSRP) are nearly all for 2016 base-model vehicles with an automatic transmission, including destination charges.  


Automotive Research Center’s 2016 Best Cars for Teens


Make Model MSRP (including destination charge)
Acura TLX $32,840
BMW X3 $39,945
Buick Encore $24,990
Buick LaCrosse $34,735
Buick Regal $27,990
Chevrolet Malibu $22,500
Chevrolet Trax $21,195
Chrysler 200 $22,990
Ford Fusion $22,995
Ford Fusion Hybrid $26,060
Ford Fusion Energi $31,995
Ford Edge $29,595
Honda Civic $20,275
Honda Accord $23,840
Honda Accord Hybrid $30,440 (2017 price and crash rating)
Honda CR-V $24,745
Honda HR-V $20,915
Hyundai Elantra $18,985 (2017)
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid $26,835
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport $26,245
Hyundai Tucson $23,595
Kia Forte $17,340
Kia Optima Hybrid $26,845
Kia Sorento $25,995
Kia Sportage AWD $23,885 (2017 price)
Lexus NX 200t $35,915
Lincoln MKZ $35,935
Mazda Mazda 3 5-Door $20,430
Mazda Mazda 6 $23,830
Nissan Altima $23,335
Subaru Forester $24,470
Subaru Outback $26,520
Subaru Legacy $22,815
Subaru Crosstrek $22,445
Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid $27,245
Toyota Avalon Hybrid $38,995
Toyota Camry $23,965
Toyota Camry Hybrid $27,685
Toyota Corolla $18,195
Toyota Highlander $31,450
Toyota RAV4 $25,310
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid $29,420
Toyota Prius $25,095
Volkswagen Passat $23,260
Volvo XC60 $37,595

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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.