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All of the sudden, your little guy or little lady is all grown up. They’re ready to spread their wings and make some tracks on their own for the very first time. Relax! It doesn’t have to be scary. With the proper preparation and education, your not-so-little one can travel the roadways safely and securely. It all begins with finding them the perfect ride. Sure, they’ll want something cool, but for most of us parents, we neither want nor can afford to send our teenage drivers out in new Corvettes. That’s why we’ve taken the time to pick out the top used cars for your young driver.

VW Jetta

At an affordable price to begin with, the Jetta is an incredibly wise move for a young driver. By letting the original owner take the initial price hit, the choice to purchase used cars is a smart one – seeing as depreciation is much steeper in the first two years. The safety and reliability of the VW Jetta are among the best in their class, and will stylishly win you some major cool points with your kid and his or her friends.

VW Beetle

There’s a reason why Volkswagen fills three of five spots on this list. These cars are affordable, stylish, reliable and safe. They hold their value well and offer you kid the exciting freedom while keeping them safe on the roadways. The newly redesigned VW Beetle has sleeker lines and a sportier look (sans dashboard flower), appealing to a broader range of drivers. It also maintains the benefit of the popular arch design without making your young driver park around the corner to avoid embarrassment.

Ford Focus

Fuel efficient and affordable, the Focus is a popular choice among many young drivers (and the parents who buy it for them), and with good reason. Available in both hatchback and sedan models, it is a decent option across the board. The roomy interior and agile handling means your teen will not only be able to fit all of their friends for a day out, but they’ll also be able to safely navigate those potholes and errant shopping carts.

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VW GTI

The third option on the list is also made by Volkswagen; the GTI is a quick and sporty hatchback with a little extra “uumph” in the speed & handling department. At 33hwy mpg, it gets better mileage than some other options on this list, but it also comes in close to $24k – over $10k more than its counterparts here. It’s a stylish, fun vehicle that will score major points from your teen – and that price comes (hopefully) with a longer lifetime that could last through college. With a higher starting price, your resell value could be quite good in a few years, once your teen is an early-twenty-something and it’s time to graduate to a bigger model.

Dodge Dart

This car has taken the young market by storm – coming in at a very affordable $16k and revolutionizing the graduation gift niche with a car registry. Its interior is somewhat tighter than others, but Dodge put their engineers to the test, building a robust engine that can also get 41 mpg. It is no doubt the hot new car in the compact car world, but the question is – is it right for your teenage driver?

Buying used cars definitely has more advantages than not. For one thing, letting the original owner absorb the initial depreciation hit could save you thousands right off the bat. And let’s face it, even if your teen driver is the best in his or her driver’s ed class, you still don’t want to entrust them with a brand new vehicle anyway. Shop around, assess your needs, and compare your options with a level head. It doesn’t hurt to give your kid some extra “cool” points, but when it comes down to it, a first car is a first car.

Tim McCall is a used car salesmen with over 25 years of industry expirence