Best New Cars for Teens

To make the cut to be considered among the best new cars for teens, vehicles must have:

• A Consumer Reports recommendation, meaning that it meets our stringent standards for reliability, safety, and road-test performance.

• Good ratings in IIHS crashworthiness tests: Driver- and passenger-side small overlap front tests, updated side test, and either a Good rating in the original moderate overlap front test or a Good or Acceptable rating in the updated test. (Unlike the used cars, new cars are not rated for roof strength and head restraints because the IIHS discontinued those tests after nearly all vehicles earned good ratings for several years running.)

• Standard automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems.

• Good or Acceptable ratings for pedestrian front crash prevention by the IIHS. 

• Good or Acceptable ratings for headlights by the IIHS. 

• Average or better scores from CR’s emergency handling tests.

• Dry braking distances of less than 140 feet from 60 mph in CR’s brake tests.

• A curb weight over 2,750 pounds because small, light vehicles don’t provide enough protection in multiple-vehicle crashes. Despite their greater mass, large SUVs and pickups don’t make the list because the added mass also means they can be hard to handle and often have long braking distances. Sports cars are also excluded because they can encourage dangerous driving.

• A designation as either a 2024 Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus by the IIHS based on the model’s performance in key crash, accident avoidance, and headlight tests.

• A good or better rating by CR for the ease of use for their controls.

• Four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (if rated).