Top 6 safest used cars for teenagers

October 29, 2015
Dilyana Dobrinova
VW Beetle cars for teenagers

Although cars are becoming safer, young drivers are still vulnerable and prone to accidents. Teen drivers are just not ready for the same level of responsibility on the road as adults. They speed and they get distracted easily, especially when their friends are in the car. The fatal crash rates are much higher among teenagers mainly due to their immaturity and the lack of skills and experience.

How do you as a parent help prevent tragic accidents from happening to your children?

Below, are some considerations to help you choose the safest vehicle for the teen driver in your family.

Should I buy a new or used car?

Color and brand may be important to teenagers. But as a parent, you have to think of other things as well, with the safety of your child being your primary concern.

Having said that, we all know that new is better. And we can truly say that this statement is valid for the purchase of motor vehicles as well. There are many benefits of buying a new car for your teenage driver, of course, the most important one being modern safety features.

New vehicles, especially those produced in the last 5-8 years, have better security controls. And that is why insurance companies and traffic safety organizations often recommend investing a little more and choosing a new vehicle.

However, buying a brand new car for a teenager in the family is often out of question for many parents. If your budget planner is filled up with college bills, summer courses, or trips, then the money for a new vehicle may be completely out of the question.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a safe car for your teen driver.

How to choose a safe car for your teenager on a budget?

Naturally, some parents would give up one of their own cars for their child to move around freely. But passing down a family vehicle may also not be the best option. Family cars are more likely to be older and, thus, less advanced in terms of safety technology and protection features, such as side airbags, for instance.

If you have the budget to afford a new vehicle for your teen, consider Mazda, Subaru, or Toyota. These brands offer vehicles with excellent handling features, good responsiveness, and, certainly, appeal for an average price of a little over $20,000.

To help you make the best choice, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit financed by the insurance industry, compiled a list of the safest used cars for teenagers. The list considers two safety aspects – the crash avoidance and crashworthiness of a vehicle. The suggestions come as a result of research conducted among 500 parents and aim to guide families to safer vehicle choices that match their budget.

And if you are looking for a vehicle that is not only safe for your teen but also gentle on the environment, check our post on how to choose an EV.

Below are the top 6 used cars for teenagers according to the IIHS.

Used vehicles for teens < $20,000 Used vehicles for teens < $10,000
Saab 9-5 sedan (large cars) Acura RL (large cars)
Toyota Prius V (midsize cars) Subaru Legacy (midsize cars)
Honda CR-V (small SUVs) Nissan Rogue (small SUVs)
Volvo XC60 (midsize SUVs) Mazda CX-9 (midsize SUVs)
Buick Enclave (large SUVs) Volkswagen Routan (large SUVs)
Chrysler Town & Country (minivans)
GREAT CHOICE GOOD CHOICE

What should I consider when buying a used car for my teen?

When selecting a car for your teenager, there are three things that deserve special attention. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.

  • Safety features.
    Electronic stability control (ESC) is considered to be the most effective safety feature since the invention of the seat belt. It allows the driver to maintain control on curves and slippery roads. The ESC was made standard on all passenger cars in 2012, so most new cars will have it. Another safety feature is side airbags. They are a critical buffer in any size collision due to the smaller space between the passenger and the edge of the car.
  • Weight and size.
    It is proven that bigger and heavier vehicles perform better in crash tests. However, a teenager who just got a driver’s license may not feel comfortable in a bulky car. When not equipped with an ESC, larger vehicles like SUVs or pick-ups are more likely to experience rollover accidents.
  • Power.
    Inexperienced drivers don’t need a vehicle with high horsepower. It may be too tempting for them to test the car’s limits, which may end up in a crash. And according to statistics, sports cars have one of the highest accident rates among all other vehicle types.

To be honest, it is quite unlikely that the top vehicle choices by teenagers comply with these principles. However, you should always remember that it is your duty as a parent to stand your ground and enforce the safer choice. After all, if the first car is among the safest choices, teenagers will have a whole lifetime to get a more powerful vehicle that matches their tastes in the future.

And although, for many teens getting a driver’s license and their first car marks the beginning of independence, not all young people today are anxious to get behind the wheel. Does it mean that the end of the car culture is near? – Check out our post and feel free to share your thoughts with us.

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