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Best Used Cars to Buy for a Teenager

July 8, 2010

Best Car for Teenager It's not easy having a teen driver, nor is it easy finding an affordable car that's also safe.

One safety feature that we insist on, cost notwithstanding, is electronic stability control.

Though it hasn't been around that long, limiting its availability on older vehicles, studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that ESC could be the most important safety feature since the safety belt, saving as many as 10,000 lives per year if all vehicles were so equipped.

Our advice: Buy your teen driver the safest, most reliable, and newest vehicle you can.

Remember, the $10,000 necessary to buy a good used vehicle with ESC, curtain air bags, and other safety gear that might save your kid's life isn't cheap. But it's cheaper than even one day in a hospital.

Here are the top car picks for teens:

VehicleEstimated Price
2000-2003 BMW 323i/325i$6,600-$9,450
2000-2003 BMW 528i/525i$6,100-$8,400
2006 Hyundai Sonata$8,450-$10,000
2007 Kia Rondo (5-pass. version)$10,000
2002 Lexus ES 300$9,600
2005 Saab 9-3 Linear$9,150
2008 Saturn Aura XE$12,825

The cars listed below take some more careful shopping, as ESC was optional. In the case of the Camry and Optima, it often required a higher trim level. Curtain air bags were also optional in the Camry in some years.

VehicleEstimated Price
2002-2004 Toyota Camry$8,250-$10,900
2006-2007 Kia Optima EX$7,500-$9,850
2007 Volkswagen Rabbit$12,000

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My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar No-Haggle and Edmunds Price Promise are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.

California Residents - Important:

There is a new online car buying service called Roadster, available only to California residents, which I highly recommend you try - especially if you hate the stress of haggling with a car salesman. They provide an expert concierge who negotiates the price of the car and delivers it to your home with zero hassle - you never have to interact with a dealership. Here is my in-depth review of Roadster and why I recommend it.

- Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

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