Buying a car for the new driver in your family can be a daunting task. While most teens are thrilled to have their own set of wheels, most parents worry about safety, reliability and budget-busting expenses.  The following cars, some new and some used, represent great choices for new drivers, based on safety and value.

2013 Ford Focus

focus

Image via Flickr by Phil Denton

This car should thrill both teens and parents. Ford completely revamped the Focus for 2013, and its list of safety features is impressive. Antilock brakes, abundant airbags, and Ford’s Sync and MyKey systems. MyKey lets parents set speed and stereo volume limits, enable a do-not-disturb that holds calls and text messages while the teen is driving, and mute the stereo system if the seatbelt isn’t fastened. The high-tech cabin and sporty exterior appeals to young drivers. Bought new or used, expect to pay between $15,000-$25,000.

2009-2012 Honda Civic Sedan

civic

Image via Flickr by Olli V.

The Civic is well-known for its reliability and fuel economy, which makes it a very attractive car for new drivers. Its safety record can’t be beat: It gets a perfect five-star rating in government crash tests, and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) gives it top marks for collision protection. The digital speedometer is at the base of the windshield; new drivers can easily watch their speed without taking their eyes off the road. Add distracted-driver technology for parents’ peace of mind. You can get a used Civic for between $12,000-$19,000.

2013 Kia Soul

soul

Image via Flickr by theKCB

Parents will love the 10-year/100,000 mile warranty on the Soul, the 27 mpg overall fuel economy, and the best marks from the IIHS for crash protection, not to mention the low insurance premiums. Teen drivers like the funky styling and tech-friendly features, including the voice-controlled Uvo hands-free infotainment system. For an economy car (prices start at just under $15,000), this car packs a lot of safety and high-value options. The Audio upgrade even includes a rearview camera.

2009 Volkswagen Rabbit 4-door

rabbit

Image via Flickr by Neal Gillis

This versatile and roomy little hatchback is a great choice for teen drivers. It’s packed with safety features, including full-length head curtain and rear-seat side airbags. Reviewers praise its solid handling, a definite plus for new drivers. The Rabbit came in first on AAA’s list of top safety picks for teen drivers, and its excellent reputation for reliability is icing on the cake. Best of all, you can probably snag this car for about $12,000-$13,000.

2010-2014 Chevy Malibu

malibu

Image via Flickr by mkriedel

Sure, your teen driver might say the Malibu is about as exciting as vanilla pudding, and he or she would be right. But parents choose the Malibu because it’s safe and reliable, and even the New York Times says it’s ideal for new drivers. The Malibu gets top marks in government crash tests, and the IIHS awarded its highest rating. Low insurance and maintenance costs add to Malibu’s appeal, and the OnStar emergency system reassures parents. Expect to pay between $15,000-$24,000.

Of course, any car is only as safe as the person behind the wheel, so make sure your new driver has plenty of supervised driving time before you turn him or her loose. When it’s time to buy your teen a car, this list is a great place to start for safety and reliability.