The Best $11,000 Car for a Teenager

A lot goes on in the mind of a teenager, but some focus on only one thing with four wheels and an engine. Some teenagers want to drive fast (or slow), carry their friends to parties, and store a lot of camping gear. Some parents want their teenagers to drive safe vehicles safely. Today’s car technology is all about safety, so the speed and cargo are all that’s left. Reliability may not be worth considering, since the teenager may crash the car. For $11,000, there are some happy mediums between what the teen wants, and what the parents want. 

Best $11,000 luxury car

If money is no option and the parent wants a safe, comfortable sedan for their teenager, look no further than Cars.com. Right now a private seller has a 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLK 350 listed for $11,000. It has low miles at 71,900, brake assist and stability control, and several amenities including programmable seats and aluminum wheels. This car is built like a tank but isn’t so slow the teenager won’t have any fun. 

Best $11,000 car with a manual transmission

2017 mazda 3 hatchback
2017 Mazda 3 Hatchback | Getty Images

Considering safety, cargo and seating, the Mazda 3 is a great choice for a car with a manual transmission. It can be a hatchback so there’s plenty of room for camping gear. The back seat is a little cramped, but better than a Mustang. Shifting is easy and precise, though not as forgiving as a Honda. Mazda suspension earns its reputation also, as the Mazda 3 handles like a front-wheel-drive sports car, second only to the Mini Cooper. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of car for $11,000. 

Best $11,000 truck or SUV

If safety is still at the forefront, then the best SUV for $11,000 is the 2013 Volvo XC90 3.2 AWD. The Volvo 3.2 comes with a 240-hp 3.2-liter V6, and FWD standard, but an AWD model would be the best option. The 3.2 gets leather seating and wood interior trim, but its style at this point in its life desperately needs an overhaul. The 2014 model years offer a makeover, but for a teenager who wants to romp around in the woods, its looks do just fine. Nothing is safer than a Volvo, so for a teenager who wants to go camping, this may be the best option.

Best $11,000 sports car

2007 bmw 335i convertible
2007 BMW 335i Convertible | Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images

It’s sacrilege to volunteer a sports car for a teenager, but if they must have one consider a BMW 3-series from the mid-2000s. The BMW is rear-wheel-drive, cheaper than $11,000, and can have a manual transmission. It’s big enough to fit a couple of passengers, fast enough to gasp and cry, but safe enough to have an open-slip differential and traction control. Several insignificant things may break along the way, but the engine and drivetrain are rock solid. Anything that’s expensive that breaks routinely is covered by a recall as well.

There are lots of options for a teenager with $11,000. While a teenager and a parent may want different things, there are some options that satisfy both sides. New cars have certain guarantees, but buying used can yield some interesting and fulfilling possibilities and guarantees of their own.

RELATED: 3 of the Safest New Cars for Teenage Drivers