Starting car price: $14,995
Fuel economy: 25 city and 34 highway mpg
Engine specs: 2-liter, four-cylinder
The Kia Forte has one of the more affordable car prices in our roundup, yet the 2011 sedan has also been selected as a Top Safety Pick in its category by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS.
This award is given to vehicles that earn the organization's highest ratings in front, side, rollover, and rear crash tests. Cars also must have electronic stability control to be considered.
The Kia Forte boasts dual front seat-mounted, side air bags, and full-length side-curtain air bags. Generally, side curtain air bags help protect front and rear occupants in a side crash.
In addition to safety features you'll want in your teen's first car, this vehicle aims to please younger drivers with an advanced audio system that's compatible with Sirius satellite radio (subscriptions are extra). It also includes Bluetooth wireless technology as a standard feature.