Big Guy Car Guy

5 Best First Cars for Kids

It’s already being documented (most recently as a front page, above the fold story in the USA Today) and this automotive trend itself will gain even more recognition as drive share services like Uber and Lyft continue to propagate (and become more trusted) throughout every single American city and outlining suburb: kids aren’t buying cars. And car manufacturers are starting to kinda freak out about it.

When I was 19 and traded my parent’s palatial house in the ‘burbs for one third of a skinny apartment in center city Philadelphia, I left my bronze Saturn in their driveway. This was decades before Uber was a thing so I walked, took the bus, and rode the rails back home for a hot meal with Mom and Dad. Kids today have even less need for expensive vehicles and pricey insurance plans. So I get it from the standpoint of the young. But, I gotta ask, isn’t buying a car a slice of the American dream? Isn’t a set of wheels to call their own the virginal taste of freedom sweet freedom a teenager will experience in life? How can it be that the rise of helicopter parenting is coexisting with the decline of car ownership in teenagers? Don’t these kids want to flee from their control-freak folks? I don’t get THAT part of the equation one bit.

While wandering the cavernous halls of Detroit’s Cobo Center and later, the less glamours Philadelphia Convention Center, I couldn’t help but notice all the massive cars taking advantage of cheap gasoline and all the sporty mid-life crisis cars on pedestals with booth babes posing alongside, but also there, maybe with a slightly lesser of wattage bulb shining down on them were petite, sensible and affordable rides perfect for a kid’s first car. Here’s a look at some of my favorites in that latter category.

Each new car below would make a great first new car for a kid who doesn’t always want to call an Uber or grab a Lyft to get from points A to B to C and then back to A again.

Scion may have been put out to pasture, but there are still plenty of rad rides for teens. Here are my favorite first cars for kids older than the kids who played the role of reporter at NAIAS:

2016 Kia Forte Best First Car for Kids

2016 Kia Forte

For so long this car was a punchline but that’s changed dramatically as Kia has become known for much more than it’s famous tagline warranty and low low low sticker prices. The Kia Forte is a race car and is a good car, especially for young people in the market for something rad but also reasonable to get themselves and their friends to and from high school and down to the lake or beach in the summertime.

2016 Redesigned Toyota Prius Best First Cars for Kids

2016 Toyota Prius

With a new graded system, it’ll likely never be easier to get into a Prius. There’s a model for nearly every budget now, including that of a young kid who doesn’t want to be filling up every week no matter if gas prices stay below $2 per gallon or not. It’s always been smart, now the Prius is even more stylish.

2016 Dodge Dart Best First Cars for Kids

2016 Dodge Dart

Looking for safety in a boss ride for a young person? Meet the devilishly handsome Dodge Dart with a 5-star overall crash test rating and 10 (!) air bags standard. Oh yeah, over 40 mpg too. I’ll take the blood orange one above, please!

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage Best First Car for Kids

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage

Starting at 15k and available in a striking plasma purple and black configuration you see above, the 2015 Mirage is the perfect first car for cosplayers to roll up to the next Comic Con, and make a statement as they emerge in full Teen Titans Go! Raven and Beast Boy attire.


2016 Kia Soul

Forget the kids and their first cars: I WANT THE KIA SOUL. I finally drove one last week, a bright red one just like the one I photographed in Detroit last month, and it was amazing. No, there were no hamsters cruising with me 🙁 but still, this zippy ride is roomy and hi-tech, and makes a bold statement inside and out. The design elements, like the unique placement of the speakers, and the pulsing circular lights near the front passengers feet, can’t help but inspire lighthearted creativity in those choose a Kia Soul as their first…or 5th car. Seriously, I WILL own a Kia Soul someday.

Kia Soul hamster philly auto show


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