Best Used Cars for Teens Under $20,000
These safe, reliable used cars and SUVs are well suited for young drivers
Parents choosing a car for their teen driver have a tough decision to make because they need to strike a balance between cost and safety.
The temptation—often born of necessity—is to buy a less-expensive, bare-bones model or to pass down an older family car. But because the car will be transporting their children, we feel that parents should pick the best and safest car their budget allows.
To make the cut to be a Good Choice, the vehicles must have:
- Electronic stability control. ESC has important crash prevention and lifesaving potential. It became standard on all passenger vehicles in 2012 and was standard on many models before then. All vehicles have this important feature as standard equipment for the years listed.
- Above-average reliability for a majority of the years listed, based on CR’s member surveys.
- Average or better scores from CR’s emergency handling tests.
- Dry braking distances of less than 145 feet from 60 mph in CR’s brake tests.
- Good ratings in four IIHS crashworthiness tests: moderate-overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints.
- Four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (if rated).
If you’re a Consumer Reports member, this article is available to you. CR members have full access to the results of our Annual Auto Surveys; first-drive reviews of the newest cars, SUVs, and trucks; and our full road tests and exclusive ratings for each vehicle we buy. If you’re not a CR member, click below to join.