Safety, style and reliability make this list of cars top picks by AAA Auto Buying experts:
Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit TDI: Despite having compact exterior dimensions, these hatchbacks are roomy and flexible. Handling is predictable and stability control has been an option since 2003. The TDI (Turbo Diesel) is the diesel option, with lower horsepower and much better fuel economy ratings than the gasoline powered versions. Teens should avoid the speedier GTI (Grand Tourer Injection) edition; it can be too powerful for less experienced drivers. The TrueCar national market average* of the 2012 Volkswagen Golf 4 door hatchback is $20,096, 2.3 percent less than the MSRP.
Ford Focus: In addition to being pleasant to drive and a solid performer with good handling, the latest Focus models also give parents the MyKey feature, which will limit speed, radio volume and prevent teens from turning off safety systems. The Ford Focus provides good fuel economy advertising up-to-40 hwy mpg on the SE with SFE package The TrueCar national market average* of the 2012 Ford Focus 5 door hatchback SE is $17,395, 8.9 percent less than the MSRP.
Honda Civic: A perennial and parental favorite, the Honda Civic offers solid handling, a stout structure, easy maneuvering and good fuel economy. When shopping around, do note model types, as the Si model may be too powerful for younger drivers. The TrueCar national market average* of the 2012 Honda Civic 4 door LX is $18,695, 4.6 percent less than the MSRP.
Hyundai Sonata (2011+): This newest Sonata is offered only with a four-cylinder engine. Handling is secure and the ride is comfortable. Beware of the turbocharged version; it is unnecessarily powerful for teenage drivers. The TrueCar national market average* of the 2012 Hyundai Sonata 4 door sedan 2.4L SE is $23,253, 3.0 percent less than the MSRP.
Ford Fusion:The Ford Fusion features secure handling and a comfortable ride. Increasing safety, upper trim levels in recent years can be equipped with an optional cross traffic alert feature, which makes backing out of a parking space with limited visibility safer. Choosing the four-cylinder motor or gasoline-electric hybrid are better choices for teen drivers. The TrueCar national market average* of the 2012 Ford Fusion SE is $21,292, 10.4 percent less than the MSRP.
Kia Sportage: The Sportage, one of Kia’s midsize crossover utility vehicles, handles well and received 4 stars and a “no tip” evaluation in the NHTSA New Car Assessment Program. The Sportage is economical, dependable and comes with a wide range of safety features. The TrueCar national market average* of the 2012 Kia Sportage 2-wheel drive SX is $26,563, 4.1 percent less than the MSRP.
“Teen drivers see their first vehicle as a step toward independence; parents and teens seeing eye to eye on the best vehicle can be tough” says John Nielsen, director, AAA Automotive Engineering. “Safety behind the wheel should be a priority. Finding a reliable vehicle that has top safety features and fits into the budget will make you and your teen’s vehicle ownership more enjoyable.”
AAA’s top picks are selected by its AAA Auto Buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more for consumers online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying. You can also download the AAA Auto Buying Tools App hereand access information on the go.
TrueCar, Inc. is the AAA preferred supplier for new and used car pricing information for the motor club. TrueCar is an online automotive information and communications platform focused on creating a better car buying experience for dealers and consumers. Consumers want a hassle-free car buying experience and dealers want high-quality sales velocity. TrueCar helps achieve these goals by providing unbiased market information on new and used car transactions and by supplying an online communications platform through which dealers and consumers can communicate with each other. TrueCar’s market-based information provides both consumers and dealers with an accurate and comprehensive understanding of what others actually paid recently for similar vehicles, both locally and nationally. If you are in the market for a new vehicle, you can configure a virtual vehicle with the specifications you want, see the Estimated or Target Price for that vehicle in your area, and then connect directly with local TrueCarCertified Dealers at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Once you submit a request, TrueCarCertified Dealer representatives will get in touch with you to discuss vehicles in their inventory.
*Market Average is estimated based on the national average of recent vehicle transactions, including destination and delivery charges after incentives that are subject to change, but does not include tax, title, licensing, documentation or processing fees, other state and governmental charges and/or fees, or any other charges or fees allowed by law. Percent discount is rounded to the nearest tenth.
AAA offers a wide variety of resources to guide parents through the process of their teens learning how to drive through its teen driver safety website—TeenDriving.AAA.com. This interactive site provides parents and teens with specific information based on where they live and where they are in the learning process— a downloadable brochure on a parent’s guide to choosing a vehicle “So Your Teen Wants a Car” can also be found here.
AAA Chicago is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.5 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada. Its mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.