It’s that time of year when teens descend upon campuses nationwide with new sneakers, tablets and various other back-to-school essentials. Some will be carpooled or take public transportation while many image-conscious young adults will be pulling up alone in a fresh set of wheels, courtesy of their parents.

Whether your teen is a college student who got their license a few years ago or a new driver who’s fresh out of the permit-driving stage, experts say safety, reliability and cost override all the sleek design and cool tech teens would want.

“The way that we think about it is, if the teen is excited about the car, it’s probably the wrong car,” said Jamie Page Deaton, the executive editor of U.S. News which just released its annual list, aptly titled the Best New and Used Cars for Teens.

U.S. News’ list spotlights the cars with advanced safety features that encourage healthy driving practices coupled with low lifetime ownership costs. This year’s round-up suggests that there’s some common ground between vehicles young adults will be content with and safety technology that allows parents to breathe a sigh of relief.

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Most of which have basic connectivity features like Apple Car Play that young adults can use to stream music from their smartphone that’s rarely out of reach. 

Almost all of the cars offer lane departure warning, which lets the driver know that the car is straying out of its lane, and most of the cars also have driving controls that send notifications to parents when the vehicle is going over a safe speed.

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Some of the cars use apps to let parents know when the vehicle has left a set geographic area or if a teen is going for a driver after a certain time of night. 

Page Deaton says that the list comprises cars and connectivity systems “that put parents in the driver’s seat,” even when the teenager is riding alone. Criteria for selection included predicted reliability ratings, crash test scores, available advanced driver assistance features and price.

In order to be named best overall, a used car had to have a model year between 2014 and 2016 as well as have high dependability and safety ratings. Ownership costs and positive reviews from critics were also taken into consideration.

The best new cars, SUVs for teens in 2019, according to U.S. News:

From lowest to highest priced

1. Hyundai Accent, Under $20,000

2. Volkswagen Jetta, $20,000 to $25,000

3. Honda HR-V SUV,  $20,000 to $25,000

4. Kia Forte, $25,000 to $30,000

5. Kia Soul SUV, $25,000 to $30,000

6. Toyota Camry, $30,000 to $35,000

7. Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, $30,000 to $35,000

8. Toyota Camry Hybrid,  $30,000 to $35,000

9. Toyota RAV4, $35,000 to $40,000

To be named a Best Used Car for Teens, U.S. News required that a vehicle be from the 2014 through 2016 model years. Page Deaton said cars from earlier years don’t have enough advanced driver assistance technology to be considered the best for inexperienced drivers.

The best used cars for teens, according to U.S. News:

Instead of by price, the best used vehicles are categorized by their size.

1. 2016 Buick LaCrosse, Large Cars category

2. 2016 Toyota Camry/Camry Hybrid, Midsize Cars category

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3. 2015 Chevy Traverse, Midsize SUV category

4. 2016 Toyota Prius, Small Cars category

5. 2016 Hyundai Tucson, Small SUVs category

Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown. 



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