The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its safest used vehicles for teens in a variety of categories from midsize to pickups. (Photo: Getty Images)
For a teen, that first car is crazy exciting.
For a parent, emotions also run high. But one of the dominant ones is worry about their child’s safety. Moms and dads wonder, “If the worst happens and my kid is in an accident, will they be protected?”
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) issued a report this month that aims to tackle that fear by listing the safest cars for teens. In short, the safest cars are bigger and heavier.
“Bigger vehicles provide greater protection,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research. “If you’re riding in one of the smallest vehicles on the road, you’ll be at a disadvantage in a crash with almost any other vehicle around you.”
The institute knows from a national phone survey that 83 percent of parents bought their teens a used first vehicle.
The IIHS makes annual recommendations for family cars but decided this year to make recommendations for teens because “teen drivers are at greater risk, due to immaturity and inexperience behind the wheel,” Cicchino said.
Here’s their list of the safest used cars for teens across seven categories, from midsize cars to minivans (hey, some teen’s got to carry his band’s equipment somehow) — all for under $20,000.
The vehicle’s prices come from Kelley Blue Book.
2012 Volkswagen Passat (Photo: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
Volkswagen Passat, 2013 and newer; built after October 2012, $6,600
Volvo S60, 2011 and newer, $7,900
Ford Fusion, 2013 and newer; built after December 2012, $8,100
2007 Volvo S80 (Photo: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
Volvo S80, 2007 and newer, $3,900
Ford Taurus, 2013 and newer, $10,000
Chevrolet Impala, 2015 and newer, $13,200
2014 Mazda CX-5 (Photo: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
Mazda CX-5, 2014 and newer; built after October 2013, $10,700
Fiat 500X, 2016 and newer; built after July 2015, $11,300
Nissan Rogue, 2014 and newer, $11,500
2003 Volvo XC90 shown (Photo: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
Volvo XC90, 2005 and newer, $3,700
Ford Flex, 2011 and newer, $8,700
Chevrolet Equinox, 2014 and newer, $11,700
2014 Honda Odyssey (Photo: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
Honda Odyssey, 2014 and newer, $12,700
Kia Sedona, 2015 and newer, $12,800
Toyota Sienna, 2015 and newer, $17,500
Toyota Tacoma Access Cab, 2016 and newer, $18,100
2011 Toyota Tundra shown (Photo: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
Toyota Tundra Double Cab, 2014 and newer, $19,000
When buying a car, look for these things
No matter which vehicle category you choose for your teen, the institute said:
- Stay away from high horsepower. More powerful engines can tempt teens to test the limits.
- Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer. They protect better in a crash. An analysis of insurance data showed that teen drivers are less likely to crash them in the first place.
- Electronic stability control is a must. This feature helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads and reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts.
- Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible. At a minimum, that means good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
For a full listing of the 53 best vehicle choices under $20,000 and 62 choices that are considered “good” and start under $10,000 by the IIHS, click here.
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