Follow These 5 Tips to Find the Right Car for Your Teenage Driver

By Alex Perdikis

That driver’s license your teenager has is a rite of passage. It means your child is not a baby anymore but moving on into adulthood. And, it brings on a host of new worries. You’re not alone. Parents past and present have gone through the very same thing. 

If you plan to buy a new or used car for the teenage driver in your family, you have a whole new set of worries. Choosing a car that’s agreeable to both of you is often a tug of war. Your teen driver’s priorities probably differ a lot from yours. If you do a little soul-searching and a lot of research, you’ll find a car you can agree on. Follow these five tips.

1. Vehicle Size and Type Matters

Your first reaction is probably to find the biggest, heaviest car you can find to keep your child safe. You want a tank, right? Take a deep breath and think. Bigger vehicles do perform better in crash tests. But, they’re more difficult for a new driver to control. They also have more seating for passengers, which is not something you want to encourage at this point. What’s a parent to do?


“Instead of looking at car size, focus on safety features that keep crashes from happening in the first place.”—Alex Perdikis

The latest car safety features include automatic emergency braking, electronic stability control, blind spot and forward collision warnings, automatic obstacle avoidance, and limited acceleration make it easier for teen drivers to avoid accidents. 

Whether you buy used or new, choose a car with as many safety features as you can afford. 

2. Check the Safety Ratings

Check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website to evaluate how specific vehicles perform in rollover, front and side crash tests. Car manufacturers also provide safety ratings on each model based on safety tests. 

3. Avoid Sports Cars

Your teenager really wants one, but this is where you have to be a parent. To a young driver, fast accelerations and streamlined designs are irresistible. You may get the “look” or silent treatment, but stand your ground on this one. 

4. Budget in Maintenance Costs

Some cars cost more to maintain than others. Luxury and large cars use more fuel and most likely cost more to repair. Factor in the gas mileage and fuel costs, as well as the ease and cost of replacing parts when necessary. 

Don’t forget to talk to your insurance agent. Your agent can give you insurance cost estimates for different car models, which can steer you toward the right choice.

5. Connectivity, Please

Connectivity might not be first on your list, but it’s at the top of your teenager’s. Connecting is a way of life for young drivers. But, did you know that connectivity gives you an advantage as well?

Safety apps can make your teen a safer driver. Voice assistants encourage drivers to keep their phones in their pockets. You can also install parental programs that alert you if your child speeds or heads off-route. 

Think about it ─ maybe connectivity should move higher up on your list, too. 


Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.