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10 great and safe rides for teens

Thu, 03 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0700

Thinking about what's the best car for your teen when he or she faces the real word of driving? Here are some suggestions:

Dodge Caliber

BASE PRICE: $17,090

With five-star front- and side-crash ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a hatchback body, the Caliber is among the safest and most flexible small cars on the market.

Ford Focus

Ford Focus

BASE PRICE: $16,690

The car is long in the tooth, but Ford's continuous refinement of the Focus yields a reliable and still fun-to-drive car with respectable crash-safety results.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic

BASE PRICE: $16,015

A smooth drivetrain that's historically reliable. Also, consider the good build quality and that it's an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety top safety pick, and you have an ideal first car.

VW Rabbit

Volkswagen Rabbit

BASE PRICE: $17,000

A superb chassis and an interior that looks more expensive than it is set the Rabbit apart. High safety marks in crash tests and being an IIHS top pick are also pluses.

Kia Soul

Kia Soul

BASE PRICE: $13,995

If the cute hamster commercials aren't enough to sell this stylish box, then news of the Soul being one of the latest cars to gain the IIHS's top safety accolades should help.

Mazda 3

Mazda 3

BASE PRICE: $15,795

With the 3 receiving a redo for 2010, the car returns with the same sporty driving DNA and sleeker styling. And it receives high NHTSA crash ratings.

Pontiac Vibe

Pontiac Vibe

BASE PRICE: $16,820

The last Pontiac to be sold in the United States is safe (five-star frontal-crash ratings), spacious, efficient (26 city/32 highway mpg) and available with all-wheel drive.

Used Mazda 6

2003-08 Mazda 6

AVERAGE PRICE RANGE: $6,500-$15,000

Besides being a fun-driving midsize sedan, the first-generation Mazda 6 is sized right and received five-star front-crash ratings.

Used Honda Accord

2003-07 Honda Accord

AVERAGE PRICE RANGE: $7,600-$12,700

We've never had anyone come back disappointed after we recommended an Accord. It has almost all five-star crash ratings across the board.

1979-81 Mercedes-Benz 300TD

AVERAGE PRICE RANGE: $6,000-$14,000

Nothing will make you cooler and keep you safer than a vintage Mercedes wagon.

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