Washington, DC (written by Nick Foley/USA Today) -- Finding a suitable car for a teen can prove to be a daunting task as parents struggle to strike a delicate balance between safety, reliability and affordability.
Teens face a struggle for respectability, hoping their parents won't foist some hunk of junk that looks like a hand-me-down from grandma.
Edmunds.com released its list of best new and used vehicles for young drivers, consisting primarily of midsize sedans. They are preferred for their strong safety features and ideal size, power and cost, said Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor at Edmunds.com. Never mind that most are pretty boring.
Compact cars perform poorly in crash tests, and SUVs are more prone to rollovers - midsize sedans are large enough to absorb a crash but are low enough to stay planted on the ground. And an inline-four tends to be the best engine choice because it limits acceleration power. As they learn the rules of the road, teens tend to be most distracted by driving while texting and by large groups of friends piling in their vehicles, Clarke said.
But don't think that such narrow specifications warrant a steep price tag. A used car can be an option that's both cheap and laden with safety features, Clarke said.
"One of the things that we gleaned from looking at this list is that there are quite a few older models that have quite a lot to offer," he said, citing the 2002 Subaru Legacy, 2002 Volvo V-70 and 2005 Toyota RAV4 as solid used-car choices for teens.
If you do decide on a new car and plan on executing a Svengali-like presence on your teen's driving escapades, consider the 2012 Hyundai Sonata, which has feature called BlueLink that allows parents to set a maximum speed on their teens' cars and alert them when the car isn't back in the driveway by curfew.
Other cars that made the list are the 2009 Honda Accord, the 2009 Toyota Camry, the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, the 2012 Honda Accord, the 2012 Toyota Camry, the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta, and the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu.