Kiplinger's takes a look at the best cars for teens heading to college Best Cars for Young Drivers
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Best Cars for Young Drivers

Whether your kid is graduating from high school, entering college, or simply needs wheels for a summer job or starting out in a career, the best vehicles offer a winning combination of reasonable price, fuel-efficiency, reliability and, most of all, safety. Good looks and a modicum of cool don’t hurt, either.

Here are our 8 recommendations of new and recent-vintage used vehicles, in each of four categories: compact sedan, midsize sedan, small crossover and sports car. Each was rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or received high marks in crash tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, each model has stability control, traction control, and head and side airbags.

All have price tags under $23,000, and most can be had for under $20,000 if you shop smart. Be sure to read our tips for buying a new car and getting a deal on a used vehicle before you head to the lot. New cars are listed with sticker price, invoice price and True Market Value from to give you an idea of negotiating room. Used cars are listed with dealer, private-party and certified used prices based on actual transactions reported by Edmunds for previously owned vehicles considered to be in "clean" condition and driven an average of 12,000 miles a year. (Certified used vehicles are inspected and sold with an additional warranty.) We also list five-year service costs, including maintenance and repairs, from Vincentric.

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