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This car perfectly exhibits all of a teenagers needs. It's reliable, it's safe, it has good power, it has great handling, it's got lots of room for storage, and it gets good gas mileage. The perfect car in my opinion for any teenager. The only flaw is the looks. Some people like the smiley face front end and some people don't. If your teenager doesn't like it, look for a pre-2010 model with the old body styling.
Edit December 2013: Thank you Mazda. The 3s only flaw has been fixed. The new Mazda 3 looks 1000x better. However, there is a new flaw: the price. I was able to fully load a new 3 on Mazdas website and got it to nearly $30000. That's absurd for this class of car. However, again, the base price is only slightly more than last generation's.
- 2Basically, the same same car as it's less performance oriented counterpart the Mazda3, but that's the problem. Some parents won't look at any car with the word "performance" in the description, which is why this car ranks below it.
Edit December 2013: I can't wait to see the new Mazdaspeed3 in person!
- 3vWAIT!!! Before you hit that back button and leave my list, allow me to explain! Believe it or not, Mustangs can be fantastic first cars for teenagers. Look for 2005-present models with the side airbags option. Those cars are top of their class in crash tests. Not to mention good reliability. Mustangs also (as your probably well aware) have great power, performance, and handling (at least compared to the other car on this list). HOWEVER, I would only recommend the V6 engine for a teenager. At the time of writing this, the V6 mustang makes 305 horsepower which is plenty for a teenager. I could only recommend the V8 Mustang to the 0.001% of teenagers that are experienced enough to drive V8 cars. Also, with the V6, the Mustang gets pretty decent, actually fantastic in my opinion, fuel economy for sports car. At the time of writing, it is achieving 19 city mpg and 31 highway mpg. Compare that to the Mazdaspeed3 above with only a four cylinder that achieves only 18 city mpg and 25 highway mpg. Be aware though that these fuel economy numbers are only for 2011-present V6 mustangs. The only downside I have with my Mustang is the practicality. Remember, it's a 2 door coupe, not a sedan or hatchback.
Edit December 2013: The new 2015 Mustang has lost some of the muscle, but definitely not any of the sportiness. The new turbo 4 cylinder Mustang might be perfect for your teenager.
- 4The Impreza, in ways, is the best alternative to the Mazda3. You get better looks than the Mazda, but there is a trade off; the Impreza does not handle as well as the Mazda3. Also, I recommend the hatch version of the Impreza for extra practicality.
December 2013: Subaru seems to have taken a step backward in styling with the latest Impreza. It has that Legacy inspired from look that I'm not the biggest fan of, but luckily the rest of the car is fantastic and largely underrated.
- 5vLike the Impreza, it's a better looking Mazda3. And, like the Impreza, there's a trade off; reliability is not even close to as good as the Mazda3's. However, the Golf has one plus over the Mazda; It's slightly more luxurious.
Edit December 2013: New Golf = Even Better. Everything has been improved in some way, whether it was a marginal or massive change.
- 6The slightly more performance oriented Mazda6. Even though it has "performance" in the description, parents should not worry. It not all that more powerful than a regular Mazda6.
- 7vLike the Impreza and the Golf, it's a better looking Mazda3. And, like both the others, there's a trade off; reliability is slightly less as great as the Mazda3's. On the bright side, this is the best looking out of the four by far and the car has the highest amount of options, which are important to most teenagers.
- 8vThe more performance oriented Lancer. In fact, A LOT more performance oriented. Which, again like the Mazdaspeed3, is a problem for some parents. Also, this is one of the more expensive cars on the list, costing, in some cases, more than the 3-series BMW.
- 9Whether you choose the V6 or the V8, this car has great performance. It very practical, it's safe, I personally love the looks, and gas mileage is reasonable (at least on the V6 model)
Ford Focus STThe more performance oriented Focus, but you might notice this is the first car to rank above its less performance oriented counterpart. That is because the handling only the regular Ford Focus is not all that great and neither is the power/horsepower. It very practical, has good looks, has good power, and gets decent gas mileage. Where the Focus ST falls short though is reliability. American cars have never had as good of reliability as Japanese cars.
- 11The more performance oriented Impreza. And, like it's competitor the Lancer Evolution, it's a lot more performance oriented than it's counterpart. And, once again, that is the problem. Like the Lancer Evolution it can also be rather expensive.
- 12"Since when has a Corolla been a good handling car?" you might be asking. It's not, but the Toyota Corolla is just so reliable I couldn't keep it off of this list. It may not appeal to your teenager as much as the rest, but if you're looking for a car that's going to last them FOREVER, look no further.
- 13I personally love American Muscle, but for some reason I love this car. The looks are just fantastic. Whoever designed this car needs an award. Actually, they have received awards. It's no wonder Ford completely ripped the styling of the 2013 Fusion right from this car. Teens will love the looks. Parents will love the practicality, reliability, and safety. The problem: the badge. Kia = uncool. Honestly, just take a chisel to those badges and no one will ever know it's a Kia. (Believe it or not, many people actually do that)
- 14Cool in many teenagers minds and parents will love the fact that it's technically a Honda
- 15So, you've got deep pockets, huh? This is my personal favorite among mid-size luxury cars. This car perfectly fits all my criteria except for reliability. German cars have always been known for bad reliability. Doesn't matter the brand (BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, etc.) All of them aren't great with reliability
- 16Another Toyota? No this one doesn't handle better. In fact, probably worse, but it's the most reliable car ever produced.
- 17Hold on? A truck handles well? Not really, but if your teenager wants a truck as their first vehicle, this is your best option. Out of all trucks on the market, this one handles the best and has, by far, the best reliability. They're like tanks. You literally can treat this thing like words I can't say on this site, and it will keep on going. Type in "Top Gear killing a toyota" into the Youtube search. The car version of a cockroach is the best way to describe the tacoma (in a good way)
- 18Reliable, practical, good for everyday use. It's not good looking, but it's not bad looking. It not powerful, but it's not under powered.
- 19It's a re-badged Toyota with better looks, which is a brilliant combination.
- 20Very cool, reliable, powerful, decently fuel efficient, and have great handling. The big flaw: It is very impractical since it only has 2 seats.
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