Top Five Car Values for Teens

by Don Elliott on September 14, 2011

The day your teenager gets his or her driver’s license is probably the same day they begin the search for their first car with a good used car value. With one more driver in the family, another car might be a good idea. Having another car will also help protect your main family vehicle from an inexperienced driver. New teenage drivers are more likely to be in an accident than any other driving age segment.

To make our car value list, these vehicles had to be readily available. There is a plentiful supply of these cars in the used car market. There are also car parts available for auto repair. This includes new OEM parts, less expensive aftermarket parts, and used car parts like body panels.

We limited our car values list to vehicles with a history of low maintenance and ability to withstand hard use in local driving conditions. We did not choose these used cars because they are on your teenager’s list of dream cars. These used cars are workhorses that can be bought at a very reasonable price depending on condition and mileage. These cars will provide solid transportation with the best possible used car value in a dependable, if not attractive, used car.

These used cars are all available with a fuel-efficient engine. Whether the cars are equipped with a four-cylinder power plant or a six-cylinder, you can expect above average mileage results. Avoid eight-cylinder options and performance packages. Some of these used cars are available with a manual transmission. While we recommend that all young drivers learn how to drive a manual transmission, we do not recommend it as a young driver’s first car.

Ford Taurus (1996-2007) – This body style, updated in 2000, was a very popular rental car. Tons of them are still on the road. To get your teenager’s attention, upgrade the sound system.

Hyundai Santa Fe (2001-2006) – This downsized SUV was introduced with an underpowered four-cylinder engine, not a bad thing for a teenager. The two-wheel drive version provides better gas mileage. rates the Santa Fe as the least expensive car to insure.

Mazda Protégé (1998-2003) – The Protégé is a bit harder to find than other models on this list. It compares favorably to the higher priced Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, but at a much lower retail price.

Chevrolet Cavalier (1995-2005) – Cavalier was a bland looking car right from the beginning. Find a four-door with an automatic transmission to get the best used car value. The Z24 and the convertible have  a stylish appeal, but lower ratings for vehicle safety.

Ford Mustang (1999-2004) – As a concession to parents wanting to step up to a sportier car, the six-cylinder Mustang is the most exciting car on our list. The 3.8 OHC V6 is the biggest engine, but still provides reasonably good mileage. Before buying a base model Mustang for your teenager, be sure to get estimates for car insurance. Mustangs with V8 engines and performance packages will be very expensive to insure.

Check with your car insurance provider before you go used car shopping. Overall, it may be significantly less expensive to buy a cheaper car that doesn’t require comprehensive and collision insurance coverage.

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