Dec 20 2015

Best Vehicles for Teen Drivers

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has updated its 2014 list of recommended used vehicles for teens, and the 2015 list has grown by more than 50% — even though the price and safety criteria haven’t changed.

The first list of recommended used vehicles for teens was compiled after IIHS found that the majority of parents who bought a vehicle for their teens bought a used one. The survey also found that the budgets for teens’ vehicles were limited: the mean purchase price was $9,800, while the median was $5,300.

The “best” vehicles on IIHS’ list are priced under $20,000 and have good ratings in the Institute’s four oldest crashworthiness tests: moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. If rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicles must earn 4 or 5 stars overall or 4 or 5 stars in the front and side tests under the old rating scheme.

New to this year’s list are pickup trucks, which weren’t included last year because those that met IIHS’ safety criteria exceeded the $20,000 price limit. This year, several made the cut. When selecting a vehicle for teen drivers, IIHS makes the following recommendations to take into consideration:

1. High horsepower should be avoided. The temptation to test the limits of a powerful engine is too hard for many teens to resist. Vehicles that only come with big engines have been left off the lists, but many recommended models have high-horsepower versions that should be avoided. The base engines of all the listed vehicles have adequate power for teens.

2. Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer. Consumers won’t find minicars or small cars among the best choices or the good choices. (Small SUVs, which weigh about the same as midsize cars, are OK.

3. Electronic stability control is a must. This technology, mandatory since the 2012 model year, helps a driver maintain control on curves and slippery roads. It’s a proven lifesaver, cutting single-vehicle fatal crash risk nearly in half. All listed vehicles have the feature standard.