Consumer Reports Releases List of Best Cars, SUVs for Teens

The cost of new and used vehicles has risen during the pandemic, though recent high used car prices have begun to level out according to Cox Automotive. New cars continue to be sold with thousands of dollars of premiums attached.

The rise in price has made many newer models, chock full of safety and with a high level of predicted reliability, economically unreachable for families with teen drivers.

That reality has caused the number of vehicles recommended for teen drivers by Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to decrease in 2022. Just 49 models were recommended this year compared to 61 last year. Twenty-one new models are recommended, down from 29.

The used vehicles recommended are priced from $6,000 to $19,000. New vehicle pricing ranges from a base price of $21,200 to $38,900.

"As the pandemic has altered both the way people travel and the way they spend, demand for reliable used cars is notably high — meaning it may be more challenging to make your budget meet your needs," said Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center. "This list is designed to help you stretch your dollars further."

2021 Honda Insight
The Honda Insight is one of Consumer Reports’ recommended models. American Honda Motor Co.

The science and education group and membership organization have divided the vehicles into two groups, Best Choices and Good Choices.

There is overlap between the groups in terms of features. They all have standard electronic stability control, which actively works to keep a vehicle connected to the ground; above-average reliability based on Consumer Reports' member survey; dry braking distances of less than 145 feet from 60 miles per hour (mph); Good or Acceptable ratings in IIHS crashworthiness testing and four- or five-star National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ratings.

All new models are winners of 2022 IIHS Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ awards, a designation that signifies that the vehicle has met the highest levels of crash test safety IIHS tests for in multiple types of testing.

There are some caveats to the list. Only 2022 model year vehicles that have vehicle-to-vehicle automatic emergency braking standard are included. If headlights rated as Good or Acceptable by IIHS that don't come as standard, recommendations specify qualifying trim levels and options.

Used Car Best Choices for Teens:

  • 2013 or newer (built after August 2012) Subaru Legacy
  • 2013 or newer (built after August 2012) Subaru Outback
  • 2014-2015 Ford C-Max Hybrid
  • 2014 or newer Mazda Mazda3 sedan or hatchback
  • 2014 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2014-2019 Mazda 6
  • 2014 or newer (built after October 2013) Mazda CX-5
  • 2014 or newer Toyota Highlander
  • 2015-2018 Toyota Sienna
  • 2015 or newer Honda CR-V
  • 2015-2017 Toyota Prius V
  • 2015 or newer Lincoln MKZ
  • 2015 (built after May 2015), 2020 Ford Edge
  • 2015 or newer Nissan Murano
  • 2015 or newer Lexus NX
  • 2015, 2018-2020 Subaru Impreza sedan or wagon
  • 2015, 2017 Volkswagen Passat
  • 2015 or newer Toyota Avalon
  • 2015-2018 Toyota Sienna
  • 2016 Hyundai Genesis
  • 2016-2019 Audi A6
  • 2017 Volvo XC60
  • 2017 Kia Sedona
  • 2017, 2020 or newer Honda Odyssey
  • 2017 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 2017 GMC Terrain
  • 2017-2019 (built after March 2016) Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2017 Kia Sedona
  • 2017, 2020 or newer Honda Odyssey
  • 2018 or newer Subaru Crosstrek
  • 2018 Volvo S60
  • 2018, 2021 Hyundai Kona
  • 2019 Mazda CX-3
  • 2019 or newer Toyota Corolla hatchback
  • 2019 or newer Honda Insight

Used Car Good Choices for Teens:

  • 2011-2013 (built after December 2010) Mazda Mazda3 sedan or hatchback
  • 2011 or newer Toyota Prius
  • 2011 Ford Taurus
  • 2011 Hyundai Genesis
  • 2011-2014 Toyota Avalon
  • 2012-2015, 2019 or newer Honda Civic sedan
  • 2012-2013 Lexus CT200h
  • 2012-2014 Toyota Prius V
  • 2012 or newer Toyota Camry
  • 2012 or newer Honda Accord sedan
  • 2013 or newer Honda Accord coupe
  • 2013 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2014 or newer Toyota Corolla sedan
  • 2014-2020 Nissan Rogue
  • 2015, 2018 Ford Fusion
  • 2016 Volkswagen Jetta
  • 2016 BMW 3 Series sedan
  • 2017, 2020 Nissan Altima

Recommended New Vehicles for Teens:

  • Mazda Mazda3 sedan or hatchback
  • Honda Insight
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Kia K5
  • Subaru Outback
  • Lexus IS
  • Chevrolet Trailblazer
  • Mazda CX-30
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Ford Bronco Sport
  • Buick Encore GX (Essence trim)
  • Toyota RAV4 (XLE, XLE Premium, SE, XSE, Adventure, Limited or TRD trims)
  • Honda CR-V (Hybrid EX, Hybrid EX-L, Touring or Hybrid Touring trims)
  • Lexus UX (with Triple Beam LED Headlamps with auto-leveling)
  • Hyundai Santa Fe (built after July 2021)
  • Hyundai Palisade
  • Nissan Murano
  • Mazda CX-9
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Honda Odyssey