When it’s time to purchase your teen’s first car, there are a lot of emotions happening. They want one thing and you often want something else for them. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some cute cars to make them happy, while still offering you the peace of mind knowing they’re driving a decent automobile. They can have the style they desire while you stick to a budget and protect them at the same time.
The vehicles on this list aren’t just cute cars – they’re also good cars for teen drivers in general. We did not sacrifice form over function by any means here, so rest assured that your precious cargo will be well-taken-care-of with these 15 exceptional vehicles.
If you want to find a car for your teen driver that’s both easy, safe, and fun to drive, then consider some of these small car suggestions. Even if you can afford the best luxury cars on the market, you don’t want to overwhelm your new driver with a new car that’s too expensive or too powerful for them to drive comfortably. Similarly, you don’t want to invest in an unsafe piece of trash either. Sensible car buying guides suggest that the best cars for young drivers are affordable, cute, city car style, machines. While your new driver might insist at looking at sports cars, how about some of these cute small cars instead?
1. 2017 Toyota Yaris
No one denies that the Yaris is a cute car. It’s the perfect style for teenage drivers. Not only is it cute, but it’s also fun to drive. The quirky design is different and unique, so they stand out among their friends. You’ll love the low price of this model, especially if you find a base trim. It doesn’t even get poor gas mileage at 36 mpg highway.
There were two variations for that model year: the five-speed manual transmission and a four-speed automatic. It also came standard with a 1.5-liter V4 engine and 106 horsepower, so you can be sure they aren’t going anywhere fast. Knowing that your teen has to drive responsibly makes this cute car even better.
2. 2016 VW Beetle
It’s possible that many parents also had a Volkswagen Beetle for their first car. No doubt this modern version is also one of the best cute cars out there. It’s funky looking and features a retro style. Both guys and girls look good behind the wheel of these beautiful cars, and the price is quite affordable.
In 2016, the Beetle 1.8T came pretty well equipped even though it was a base model. It offered plenty of power without getting too scary. It featured a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and 170 horsepower. That helped it achieve 25/34 city/highway mpg. It also scored “Good” in many of the IIHS crash test ratings and earned five stars from the NHTSA.
There weren’t a lot of colors to choose from, which is tough if you have a picky teen. The upside to that is you could get them a Beetle convertible – the ultimate teen car for a sunny day – without spending a lot if you wanted to. That is sure to make them popular among their friends.
3. 2016 Honda Fit
The Honda Fit is one of the best cute cars out there. Whether you get a model a few years old or buy new, your kid will be driving one of the safest vehicles on the road. This subcompact even came with a rearview camera as standard equipment so your first-time driver could see all around them.
There is even a Tire Pressure Monitoring System on board so you ensure they get home safely, and keep your car care routine nice and streamlined. With the Vehicle Stability Assist and Traction Control, the brake and engine pressure automatically adjust if an understeer or oversteer situation is occurring.
What’s most surprising about this cute car is the space inside. You can fit a lot more into this car than you would think. That’s because it features adjustable, versatile seats. Aside from being one of our favorite spacious and cute cars on the market, it also features rich and full-of-fun goodies. It gets favorable car reviews, looks the part, has an acceptable but responsible top speed, and is incredibly reliable. This car is perfect , and a wise choice.
4. 2017 Smart ForTwo
If you want your kid to drive one of the cute cars of the past few years, this ForTwo has probably come to mind. It’s tiny, compact, and great for urban situations. No one can deny that it meets all U.S. safety guidelines and comes with plenty of options to keep your kiddo safe.
One thing you won’t need to worry about is whether your teen will be able to park thanks to this car’s small size. It doesn’t matter what size the spot is, they are sure to fit well. Imagine them driving this around the college campus. With a three-cylinder engine that produces 89 horsepower, you can expect they won’t be drag racing either. In fact, it only has a 0 to 60 mph time of 10.8 seconds; but hey, this isn’t a list of the fastest cute cars now, is it?
This Smart Car does, however, come with some decent gas mileage at 39 mpg on the highway. That will help you save money when they go to the gas pump as well. It’s one of the best teen cars you can afford on the road today.
5. 2018 Toyota Prius C
The past few years didn’t bring too many changes to the Prius. It’s been a fan favorite for its versatility and fuel economy. Even if you wanted to save a little money and buy an older version, you would still be getting a reliable vehicle.
What we like most about the Prius C is the user-friendly infotainment system, safety features, and decent fuel economy. The car handles easily and is comfortable to ride in. We aren’t thrilled with the slow acceleration; the Prius only comes with 99 horsepower. If you want a hybrid car, you’ll have a hard time finding something better than this for the price. It’s a great way to get your teen accustomed to these alternative vehicles.
6. 2019 Chevrolet Spark
If your kid is begging you to purchase a newer model for them but you want to save a little money, you can still please them with the Spark. It surely deserves to be on our list and we love the price. For the 2019 model year, it received a completely restyled front-end appearance plus an updated grille, headlamps, and fascia.
You also have access to some revised wheel designs and LED daytime running lamps. There are several fun colors to choose from including Caribbean Blue Metallic. Teens love the technology inside like the two illuminated USB ports and the updated infotainment system. It’s only powered by a 1.4-liter engine, which is part of the reason the price is so low. They are comparatively expensive cars, but the balance between their prices and equipment make them a good deal.
7. 2017 Kia Soul
The Kia Soul offers a unique design from the other cute cars. It’s similar to that of a Mini Cooper and seems to be a popular choice for teens across the nation. It’s an affordable first car and is sure to draw plenty of attention too.
The stock engine for the 2017 model year was a 1.6-liter V4 that produces 130 horsepower. Then, there was an option between the six-speed automatic or manual transmission. It doesn’t really matter which way you go; the acceleration is nothing to brag about. In addition, the fuel economy doesn’t knock us over either. Expect to get about 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
8. 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage
If you want an older model vehicle, but still want something safe enough for your teen, this Mirage might do the trick. It’s a four-door, five-passenger hatchback that easily fits all your kid’s friends. It’s powered by a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 74 horsepower. Again, this isn’t anything that’s going to break speed records, but it’s adorable.
There’s plenty of safety features available such as ABS, EBD, and Brake Assist. There are also seven airbags inside this tiny car and electric power steering. For those who like the latest technology, you’ll be surprised to know that you can get Bluetooth, push-button start, and a rear-view camera if you look hard enough through the used models. The best part is, you won’t spend much to get your teen behind the wheel.
9. 2018 Mazda 3
A Mazda 3 will almost always make a list of cute cars because that’s what it’s supposed to do. Aside from its good looks, you can also count on this car to offer decent acceleration and a reliable driving experience.
Teens will find it easy to steer because the handling is superb. Inside the cabin, all the seats are comfortable and visibility is great as well. The 2018 model year also comes standard with the Smart City Brake Control. If you aren’t prepared to spend the money on a new model, it would be okay to go with something a little older, but we don’t recommend anything before 2016. All those model years could easily win the cute cars contest as well.
10. 2017 Fiat 500
There’s no denying this is one of the top cars on our list. It might even be one of the cutest cars in the world (losing only to the Geely Panda). If you splurge and get a convertible, you’re sure to make a friend out of your teen for life. The best part is, they won’t realize that you saved a ton of money in the process.
Of course, this tiny little car is no powerhouse. Expect that you’ll only get 100 horsepower out of the two-cylinder engine. With that said, all the fun, vibrant colors make this a very playful choice. Some people have complained about some vibration while driving, but it’s nothing that would cause us to keep it off the cute cars list.
11. 2016 Ford Fusion
Since the Fusion hit the market, it has been one of the popular cars for teens. When it got redesigned, it grew even further among younger drivers. With the 2016 model year, there were three varying trim level options. There was also a hybrid or electric plug-in to choose from as well.
Teens seem to enjoy the stylish interior plus the touchscreen that makes it simple to listen to music or follow the navigation. It also features a sporty appearance, thanks in part to the 16-inch wheels. Parents love giving their kids the Fusion because of the fuel-efficient engine and standard safety equipment. Though it’s tempting to think that the Ford Fiesta is the more sensible option, the Fusion is actually the better car for your young driver.
12. 2014 Kia Optima
If you’re looking for a midsize sedan that can also double as a good teen ride, the Optima is the way to go. It was available in four trim levels for the 2014 model year. Even on the standard trim, teens had a lot to enjoy. The Kia Optima offers a smooth ride that’s easy to handle. It also came with a six-speaker sound system, full power accessories, and heated mirrors.
Bluetooth was standard and it helps to make the commute back and forth to school a little more lively. Parents, on the other hand, appreciate the mild 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, standard fog lights, and responsive steering.
13. 2014 Chevrolet Malibu
Sometimes teens want more than just the best cute cars; they also want smooth handling. That’s where the Malibu comes in. It delivers on multiple fronts from a driver-focused cabin to plenty of customization. There were four trims to choose from and all of them came pretty packed with features.
Even on the base LS trim, you’ll get 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, and power accessories. It featured Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system. With the 2.5-liter engine, you can expect 29 mpg combined.
14. 2018 Honda Civic
Earlier we mentioned the Fit, which is one of the cars that teens love, but sometimes you just need something larger. The Civic fills that gap, but it’s going to cost you a little more. The 2018 model year come equipped with advanced front airbags, vehicle stability assist, traction control, ABS, a rearview camera, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.
It also features some excellent gas mileage. The Civic also hit the top of its class in safety ratings from the IIHS and NHTSA. The Civic is affordable and reliable. You could always go a step up with the Accord, but that’s going to cost you a lot more.
15. 2018 Mazda CX-3
It’s possible to get one of the cute cars even if you want a crossover. Often, these types of vehicles get overlooked because they are larger, but the safety ratings help to make this a top choice, especially for teen drivers.
The CX-3 is better than a Sportage because of its handling, upgraded interior, and better suspension. As far as safety measures, it also comes with automated emergency braking. There are also several options including lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. As cute SUVs and crossovers go, the CX-3 is a great choice.
Best Cute Cars for Teens Buying Guide
When you’re in the market for cars to give your teens, here are some car buying tips to consider.
1 – Your teen might want a powerful car, but it’s often best to provide them with something featuring less horsepower. Modest engines help teens to avoid temptation and keep the driving tame.
2 – You need to consider the size of the vehicle as well. Most cute cars are smaller and compact, but often the larger, heavier vehicles are best for new drivers.
3 – Price is going to be a consideration, especially since higher-priced cars affect your car insurance rates. Just make sure you aren’t sacrificing safety, fuel-efficiency, or comfort in order to save a buck. If you want some low-cost, safe options, we’ve done an article about the best used cars for teens under $10,000. Establish your budget before you start shopping for the best results.
4 – List the features you must have. This helps you pick a vehicle that work best for your family.
5 – Do your research. Don’t buy something just because it’s what your teen wants. Make sure you look into safety ratings and reliability as well. A good thing to look into is the lifetime ownership cost of a vehicle. This helps you figure in the maintenance, fuel, insurance, registration, and other fees. The Kelley Blue Book is a great resource for car models, prices, and things to look out for.
6 – Find a car dealer that understands your needs, and allows you to take your teen on a test drive. When you go to look at cars, make sure your teen is with you. This experience will bring the two of you closer together and help you make an educated decision.
Overall, it’s vital that you have a good time shopping for cars with your teen. This is an exciting time in their life and one you want them to remember for years to come. Help them learn how to make wise automobile decisions and watch them grow right before your eyes.