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Top cars for teens: These new and used vehicles rated best
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Top cars for teens: These new and used vehicles rated best

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On the one hand, you no longer have to drive them places. On the other hand, driving is dangerous. So how do you pick the right first car for your teen? 

Buying a car for your kid is a big deal. Not only will it have a pronounced and long-lasting effect on your wallet, but your choice directly influences your child’s safety on our wild roads. Picking a good one is imperative, so that’s why guides like the one from U.S. News and World Report are helpful: They take some of the guesswork out of the equation.

The U.S. News and World Report list, published in August, is broken down into two sections: new and used. To qualify for the used list, a vehicle needs to have been built between 2015 and 2017 and have the right blend of affordability, reliability, crash test results and safety features.

The list is broken down into price categories in $5,000 increments ranging from under $20,000 to $40,000 and also breaks it out into cars and SUVs.

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The used car list is quite a bit shorter but is also dominated by Korean brands (and Toyota). Despite vehicles from 2015 through 2018 being eligible for inclusion, only 2016 and 2017 models ended up making the cut. This list is also broken out in a more granular fashion than the new car list, with size being a consideration.

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It’s not just about miles: If you don’t drive your car a lot, your oil still needs to be kept fresh. Even if you drive fewer miles each year than your automaker suggests changing the oil (say, 6,000 miles, with suggested oil-change intervals at 7,500 miles), you should still be getting that oil changed twice a year.

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The Dodge Durango was built to tow, with all three of its available engines boasting lofty maximum tow ratings. The standard V6 can pull 6,200 pounds when properly equipped.

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If you will not be using your car for more than 30 days, it’s important to fill up your gas tank. This may help prevent moisture from building up in the tank.

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The redesigned Subaru Outback is one of the most versatile vehicles you can buy. The XT trim level comes equipped with a powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

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Crossovers can be rugged, too. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has remarkable off-road capabilities, especially in its specialized Trailhawk trim level. A properly equipped Grand Cherokee can tow up to 6,000 pounds with its standard V6 engine. If you need even more, a larger V8 pushes the rating up to 7,200 pounds. That is enough capability to tow a decent-size boat or a travel trailer. On the downside, this Grand Cherokee generation has been around since 2011. It looks and feels dated, and it has a firmer ride than more modern rivals. But when it comes to towing, it’s a proven veteran. MSRP of a 2020 Grand Cherokee Limited with four-wheel drive and 5.7-liter V8: $45,350.

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