A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Pop Culture

The top 5 best cars for new road hitters

Teenagers have always been quite particular about their first cars. Although studies from The Atlantic show that only 25 percent of 16-year-olds had a driver’s license in 2014, getting behind the wheel and even owning a car is a big part of getting older. From transporting groups of friends to just gathering groceries for mom, teens have found many ways to use cars, good and bad. Safety of course has always been an issue too and with the latest technology nowadays that has been rectified.

What teenagers look for the most when they start driving is just something to get from point A to point B. What they also need is a practical car that won’t break the bank but will also stay with good gas mileage. Check out these five car models below– the best part: they all cost $5,000 and below. (Note: The following vehicles are listed are in no particular order.)

The Helpful Honda

The 2005 Honda Civic scores 34 miles per gallon (MPG) combined which is really good. Since it is also a sedan, if need be, friends and/or extra cargo could be carried along. When it comes to crash ratings it scores four stars in most categories. The highest is five with frontal crashes.

The Trusty Toyota

Here is another sedan which again brings practicality, an important necessity in this stage of life. The 2004 Corolla scores 28 mpg combined. When it comes to safety, it scores five stars in the crash test with the lowest being four when it comes to rollovers and side crashes.

The Spacious Suburu

This is the first AWD (All wheel drive) vehicle on the list. This makes it exceptionally good under slippery and winter conditions. It earns 21 mpg combined which is decent for a vehicle of its size. Though with it being that way, it can hold more objects which is just what some teenagers would desire. The Forester earns five stars in both frontal and side crashes. It only earns four when it comes to the rollover.

The “Eh-Okay” Escape

For those teenagers feeling the SUV craze, this could satisfy their need. The 2001 Ford Escape comes in at 18 mpg combined which is not too great but still decent. Crash safety tests is another area where the Escape is “just decent”. Only one five star rating and that being at the front drivers side. The lowest is three stars with the rollover.

The Dependable Durango

This is an even more rugged SUV but at the same time, is a reasonable size with a quite reasonable price-tag. The 2001 Durango combined has 14 mpg. This downside is overshadowed by the V8 engine, which could get you out of sticky situations in the winter (and in Maryland, who knows when “winter” means flurries or a 8-inch snowstorm!) The crash results are decent as well for the Durango. Four stars for the frontal crash test and three with the rollover crashes.

Whatever the car, the most important component of driving is safety.  According to statistics from the Maryland Government, in a five year span average between 2011-2015, 6,700 young drivers were reportedly injured in crashes ranging from speeding to distracted driving. Be sure to not crash your Toyota because of texting!

*Crash results for all cars is provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
*Photos courtesy of Kelley Blue Book.