Choosing a car – maybe something like the Mazda3 – for your teen can be more than a little stressful. They want the newest in tech, and you’re wondering if you should teach them to drive a manual. You’re then calculating how much you’ll be paying for insurance once they’re driving on the road.
The biggest question of all is how much you want to invest in their first vehicle, however. Your teen may want a new Corvette, but realistically, you might want them to get some driving experience before spending a lot of money. Consumer Reports has put out a list of suitable vehicles less than $20,000 for your teen, and the Mazda3 is at the top of the list.
Why did Consumer Reports pick the Mazda3?
Consumer Reports isn’t known just to slap out something with no research, and given the seriousness of this decision, there were a lot of factors taken into consideration. Some of the factors tested were: Electronic stability control, above-average reliability, average or better scores from CR’s emergency handling tests, dry braking distances of less than 145 feet from 60 mph in CR’s brake tests, good ratings in four IIHS crashworthiness tests, and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
That’s a lot of data to take in, but it makes sense. After all, they’re looking at the vehicle they’re recommending for your child.
For small cars, the Mazda3 came out as the top choice. One of the biggest reasons had to do with the fact that it costs around $5,300. Plus, it’s one of the most reliable cars on the road. While you can never predict if you’ll get that dreaded phone call that your teen is stranded on the side of the road because their car broke down, the Mazda3 has excellent scores, and is more likely to get your teen home safely.
Which model years should you consider?
Consumer Reports listed the 2011-2013 models as ideal choices for your teen. They’re cheaper, but should still be in good enough shape to be reliable.
Another good choice is the 2015, which is both fun to drive, but also offers some more modern tech offers. It’s obviously not as up to date as a 2020 Mazda3, but it’s got more than enough to make it interesting.
There are some model years like the 2015 and 2018 that have had their fair share of recalls, so make sure you do your research before signing on the dotted line. Take the time to get a Carfax report, and have it checked out by a mechanic. Not only will it give you peace of mind, but you’ll have a better idea of if the used vehicle you’re buying is worth the money you’re investing.
What other vehicles made the list?
While the Mazda3 made the top of the list, some people like to have options. If you want to take a look at other vehicles, the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Toyota Prius also made the list for small cars.
If your teen wants a midsize car, the Subaru Legacy, Lincoln MKZ, Subaru Outback, and the Hyundai Sonata made the list. The Legacy or Outback will probably be your best bet if you live in an area where Mother Nature can hit unexpectedly. All Subarus are equipped with AWD, so it’s worth it, especially if your teen’s school lets out early because a snowstorm hit.
If you want to get your teen an SUV, then the Kia Sportage, Toyota Highlander, and Ford Edge are recommended. The Toyota Sienna was the only minivan mentioned.
If you’re looking for something both cheap and reliable, the Mazda3 is your best bet. It’s a great starter car for your teen and will probably last them while learning the road rules.