new teen driver learning

Whether you are a parent with a teen who will soon learn to drive, or a teen eager to start driving, you might be wondering, "What cars are the best to learn how to drive in?" While there isn't a single perfect car for every new driver, there are a few factors you should consider when selecting the vehicle you will use for learning.


When learning to drive, it's easy to underestimate the size of your vehicle and assume you have more space than you actually do. As a result, larger vehicles like SUVs, vans, and trucks are generally not the best choices for learning to drive. Instead, learning in a medium-sized or smaller car can help a teen gain confidence when first starting to drive. These vehicles also provide more room when practicing skills like parallel parking, changing lanes, merging, and navigating curves. Once the teen has become comfortable with a smaller vehicle, they may want to practice driving a larger one. However, when first learning to drive, sticking with one vehicle can help the teen become more comfortable with the driving experience.


According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people aged 15-24 represent approximately 14 percent of the population. Males in this age group account for about 30 percent of the total cost of motor vehicle injuries among males, while females account for roughly 28 percent of the total cost of motor vehicle injuries among all females. Due to various factors, including inattentiveness, inexperience, and speeding, teens are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents. While a vehicle with high safety ratings won't necessarily prevent an accident, it can reduce the damage to the vehicle and its occupants.

Vehicle Condition

While a teen's first vehicle is often older and not in excellent condition, it's important for teens to learn to drive in a vehicle that is in good working order. This doesn't mean the car has to be brand-new or even without any scratches or dings, but it should function properly. The brakes should work well, the lights should all function, the vehicle should have all its mirrors, and there should not be any major mechanical issues. This is the vehicle your teen will likely use for their driving test, and the DMV often has requirements for the vehicle used for the road portion of the driver's license test.


Most people learn to drive with an automatic transmission. Although it is possible to learn on a manual or standard transmission, having to learn how to shift while initially learning to drive can be overwhelming. By learning to drive an automatic transmission, the teen will likely feel comfortable driving sooner. This will simplify the driving process overall and allow the individual to focus specifically on driving rather than having to think about shifting or using the clutch when changing gears. Once the teen feels comfortable driving an automatic transmission and after passing the driving test, they can learn how to drive a manual transmission.

However, there are benefits to initially learning to drive with a manual transmission, especially if the person plans to eventually drive both automatic and manual transmission vehicles. One of the biggest advantages is that the person can learn all driving skills at once. Once the person can drive a manual transmission, driving an automatic transmission will come easily, expanding their options for driving a vehicle.

Fuel Efficiency

When choosing a vehicle to learn to drive in, it's also helpful to consider fuel

efficiency. As a new driver, you may spend a considerable amount of time practicing on the road, which can lead to increased fuel consumption. Choosing a fuel-efficient vehicle can help reduce the costs associated with learning to drive, making it more budget-friendly for both the learner and their family. Additionally, learning to drive in a fuel-efficient vehicle encourages good driving habits that can lead to long-term fuel savings.

Resources for Choosing the Right Vehicle

To help you choose the best vehicle for learning to drive, you can consult several online resources. These resources can provide valuable insights and comparisons of different vehicle models based on factors like size, safety, and fuel efficiency.

  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) - IIHS offers safety ratings for various vehicles, which can be a helpful reference when selecting a car for a new driver.
  • - This website, maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy, offers information on fuel efficiency for various car models, helping you to make an informed decision based on this factor.
  • Edmunds - Edmunds is a popular resource for car buyers, providing expert reviews, consumer ratings, and comparisons of various vehicle models.
  • Kelley Blue Book - Another valuable resource for car buyers, Kelley Blue Book offers pricing information, reviews, and comparisons for a wide range of vehicles.

In conclusion, when selecting the best vehicle to learn how to drive in, consider factors such as size, safety, vehicle condition, transmission type, and fuel efficiency. Consulting the various resources mentioned above can help you make an informed decision and find the ideal car for a new driver. Remember, while there may not be a perfect vehicle for every learner, choosing one that meets most of these criteria will ensure a smoother and safer driving experience.