Can you believe your teen is about to be driving all by themselves? Time really does fly. Well, 44% of teens in Canada receive their driver's licenses within one year of the minimum age, so it's best to prepare them as soon as possible.
Roads in Canada are unpredictable, but there's a lot you can do to make them safer. Let's talk about the best cars for teens.
To start off, we want to mention our primary criteria. Some teens will need a larger vehicle for their sports, trips with friends, recreational activities, or other lifestyle differences. Because of that, we will not factor that into our decision but will instead try to incorporate both smaller and medium-sized vehicles.
Our criteria focus mainly on a combination of safety, price, and reliability. You and your teen won't want to rely on frequent trips to the mechanic, expensive tank fills, and especially emergency rooms. Make sure you know what your insurance plan covers before even looking for a car, too. With that in mind, here are some of our top picks.
Cars for Teenage Girls
While cars can be considered gender-neutral, we all know that teenage girls and boys can be a little picky. We won't break down models by year and instead go over how well they have performed since the late 2000s. The newer the model, the more safety features they will have.
Toyota Camry, Prius, or Corolla
When it comes to sedans, there's simply no better vehicles than these two popular Toyotas, and that goes back year after year. Camrys and Corollas are some of the most popular models on the road, making them extremely affordable vehicle options, they have great safety ratings, and they have a reputation for being the most reliable and practical vehicles.
They both offer great fuel mileage for your teens, typically close to 50 kpg (with Prius models far exceeding that), and they are all built to last your teen into their twenties.
The best part about these vehicles is that you can pick a model from just about any year since the late 90s and count on them to go well over 200,000 miles with proper care. However, the newer you go, the better the safety features will be.
Great alternatives would be a Toyota Avalon, Honda Accord, Honda Insight, or Subaru Impreza.
Jeeps are very popular among younger girls and for good reason. If your teen is sporty or has friends they will be driving around, the Jeep offers impressive room, 4-wheel drive, and plenty of safety features.
We chose the Wrangler because of its popularity but any Jeep will be a safe option for a teen, especially in Canada. Teach your teen how to use the 4WD system to get out of sticky situations in the snow.
Great alternatives to Jeeps would be Subaru Foresters, Subaru Outbacks, Volkswagen Tiguan, Toyota Rav4, and Honda C-RV.
Cars for Teenage Guys
Most teens will want to avoid coupes, which is probably for the better in the snowiest regions of Canada. 2-door vehicles are great but not very practical in the snow.
The added benefit of these vehicles is that not only are they comfortable sedans with excellent fuel economies, but they are also extremely safe to drive in the winter. If you've ever wondered what makes a Subaru a Subaru, the answer is that they all come with some of the most technologically advanced all-wheel-drive systems on the market.
Great alternatives would be a Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, or Chevy Impala. All of them perform well throughout the seasons for their sizes and come with great safety features.
Highlanders, as well as comparable-sized SUVs, are excellent for a mid-sized SUV. Many models come with advanced AWD systems, and newer models often have impressive fuel economies, especially in the hybrid models.
Great alternatives would be the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevy Equinox, Ford Explorer, Subaru Ascent. All of them are roomy, tough vehicles that are great for all types of sporting equipment, escorting friends, and driving in rough terrains.
Best Used Cars for Teens
Used cars are the way to go for teens. Buying within the last 2 to 6 years will help lower your insurance rates and save you money on the upfront costs without harming the quality or lowering the safety rating substantially. Here are some of the bests.
It isn't opinion to say that Honda and Toyota have produced the most consistently high-quality sedans since the start of the century. The Corolla and Camry, as well as their Honda counterparts in the Accord and Civic, have been the top sedans for a long time, and for good reason.
These cars are safe, durable, and built to last. Many of them last beyond 300,000 miles with proper maintenance and they are inexpensive to maintain, fill up, and replace parts on.
The Prius and the Insight are the best models for fuel economy and are just as reliable as the vehicles mentioned above.
Coming close behind are Hyundai Elantras, Ford Focuses, Nissan Altimas, and others. However, for driving in the snow, the Subaru Legacy and Impreza beat all of the sedans mentioned above for their AWD systems, making them a top contender for those willing to make a small sacrifice on fuel economy.
These models have performed at the top tiers of their competitors since the early 2000s when it comes to safety and other important metrics, and newer models have become even safer, especially since 2012.
Best Sedans for Long Time Use
Best Sedans for Fuel Economy
Best Sedans for Winter Season
Honestly, the best mid-sized vehicles from the last 10 to 15 years consistently (in no particular order) are:
If your teen is driving in the snow, all of these vehicles have impressive handling, the right amount of weight and control, and excellent safety ratings. This is true for these models from 2008 to the present.
Very few teens will require large vehicles but some may be entering trades, participating in major outdoor sports, or be helping out with a larger family. In that case, some options are better than others.
When it comes to large SUVs and pickup trucks, American models tend to beat Japanese and Europeans in a lot of metrics. There's a reason that the Ford F-150 makes up for 90% of Ford's profits globally. If your teen wants a truck, it's hard to beat that model.
For larger SUVs, the Chevy Tahoe, Chevy Traverse, Toyota 4Runner, and the Ford Expedition are all excellent choices.
If your teen will be escorting friends or family often, those SUVs provide plenty of room. However, a minivan would also do the trick. For minivans, it's hard to beat the Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan, or the Kia Sedona.
Best Pickup Truck
Best Larger SUVs
Dodge Grand Caravan
Safe Cars for Teens
From the last decade (the 2010s), there have been a number of outstanding vehicles when it comes to safety. This is the decade that added blindspot monitoring, rearview cameras, collision prevention, and other amazing safety features into mainstream cars.
The top tier of all vehicles is, in order, as follows:
The best part is that you can now get most of these vehicles for under $10,000 and keep your teen as safe as possible on the roads.
Worst Cars for Teenage Drivers
The truth is that most used cars of the 2010-2019 era are very safe compared to their ancestors. However, if safety is your number one concern (as it should be) and you want to know which cars to avoid, here's a list:
While these cars do meet plenty of safety requirements, they do not live up to the standards of a Subaru Outback or a Mazda 3. Get your teens the safest cars on the road!
Stay Safe This Winter
Now that you know some of the best cars for teens, you can make an informed decision when you go to purchase one. They learn to drive fast, so make sure you shop for the best vehicle and prepare them for driving in the snow! Stay up to date with our latest car safety news and contact us with any insurance or safety questions!