How to Choose the Perfect Car for Your Teen Driver + Top Picks Under $20K

If you’re a parent of young children, buying a car for your child when they get their license may seem centuries away. However, the day will sneak up on you, and when it finally arrives, you’ll need to be ready. 

So, when it comes time to choose a car for your teen driver, what do you need to consider? The best cars for teens blend safety, affordability, quality, and more. Stay with us as we break down the various factors to consider when shopping for your teen’s first car–and we’ll learn about some of the best cars for teens under $20,000.
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You obviously want your child’s car to be safe, but how do you know which vehicles are the safest? Today, most new cars have high-tech safety features that protect new drivers on the road — and you don’t have to break the bank to get them. Some of these features include: 

  • Backup cameras 
  • Blind-spot monitoring 
  • Parking sensors 

Not only can these features protect your teen from serious accidents, they can also help them avoid parking lot fender benders and sideswipes — which can additionally help you save money on repairs. 

Beyond these, there are some features that aren’t traditionally considered safety features but can be pivotal in keeping your teen safe. Bluetooth and steering wheel controls, for instance, allow teens to answer their phones without ever taking their eyes off the wheel. 


Finding an affordable car matters for a few reasons. Newer and nicer cars require more expensive parts and maintenance. Therefore, if your teen dents their vehicle’s door or bumper in a parking lot, the repair cost for a newer and nicer car versus a more moderately-priced car will be significantly different. 

You should also consider the insurance implications when buying a car for your teen. Teens are among the most expensive drivers to insure, and the cost of their insurance premium will increase if you buy a more expensive car. Therefore, if you decide to purchase a “nicer” car for your teen, you need to prepare to pay the more significant costs that are attached to it. 


You certainly want to find a car that doesn’t break the bank, but you should never sacrifice quality as a result. Additionally, you don’t want to find yourself back at the dealership two years later having to shop for another car. Ideally, you want to find something that your teen will be able to drive for a long time. 

Especially when looking at used cars, make sure you do thorough research before your purchase. Checking the vehicle’s history report and reading online reviews are excellent ways to get an understanding of the vehicle’s quality. 


With these considerations in mind, you can begin shopping for your teen’s first car. Accounting for average price, insurance premium, monthly cost, and safety score, here's a list of car-buying tips, as well as some safe, quality cars for under 20K.

Check out the guide to choosing a car for your teen driver below.
Photo bythe Zebra

Do you have any other tips when it comes to finding a reliable, safe, and affordable car for your teen driver? Leave us a comment.


Also read:

How to Choose the Best Car for Your Family

How to Help Your Child Become a Confident Driver: 4 Tips

29 Old-Fashioned Skills Kids Need to Know (Free Printable)

Talking to Teens About Money: 4 Important Tips

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