IIHS List of Safest Vehicles for Teen Drivers

Share this Article

  • Email

December 21, 2018

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety issues a list every year of its top recommended used vehicles for teen drivers. When parents buy cars for their teens, they typically either buy cars that their kids like or used cars that parents think are practical. However, many of the cars chosen by well-meaning parents are not the safest options for teens. It is especially important to provide these new drivers who are still developing their road skills the best cars for their own safety and for the safety of other motorists on the road.

As more manufacturers continue adding standard safety features as well as newer safety features, the list of top used cars for teens continues growing. Research conducted by the IIHS showed that most parents who bought vehicles for their teens were shopping on a budget. For this reason, the IIHS created different sub-categories in the list based on prices.

While most parents are shopping on a budget for their teens, the IIHS points out that it is better to spend a little bit more than the budget amount over sacrificing safety to spend less. When parents are faced with the choice of buying a vehicle that is not on the list or spending a little more, it is better to pick the safer option. The addition of something as simple as a lane departure warning feature could save a teen from an accident and parents from spending more over the years on a higher insurance premium stemming from a teen’s at-fault crash. However, a teen losing his or her life in a crash is far worse than paying higher premiums or paying for medical bills.

The IIHS kept the same format for its list this year. It has a category for the best choices that are priced less than $20,000, and it has a category for good choices that are priced under $10,000. The best choices passed the Institute’s most important crash tests with good ratings, and the good choices passed some tests with decent ratings. Experts emphasized the importance of avoiding three common mistakes when buying cars for teens:
  • Never make horsepower a priority. Although many teens beg and plead for vehicles with more horsepower, it is important to avoid these. It is too tempting for teens to test the power of these cars. In addition to this, many of these cars are more expensive to insure.
  • Avoid buying lighter cars. The IIHS emphasizes that larger and heavier vehicles are safer overall. Smart cars, Minis and other small and light vehicles are not on the list.
  • Never skip out on electronic stability control. This is a safety feature included in all of the recommended cars. It has been a mandatory inclusion on all vehicles made since 2012. Electronic stability control helps drivers stay on slick roads and stay on the road when it curves. It has been proven to save lives and has cut fatal crashes of single vehicles in half.
Parents who were hoping to spend a little bit less than $10,000 can take comfort in the good news that many safety features can help lower insurance premiums. Here are the top three cars in select categories. To view the full list of safe cars recommended by the IIHS, visit its website. For more information about these cars and how they affect insurance rates for teens, discuss concerns with an agent.

Large cars
  • Volvo S80, 2007 and newer, $3,900
  • Ford Taurus, 2013 and newer, $10,000
  • Chevrolet Impala, 2015 and newer, $13,200
Midsize cars  
  • 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
Small SUVs   
  • 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
  • Toyota Tacoma (Access Cab), 2016 and newer, $18,100
  • Toyota Tundra (Double Cab), 2014 and newer, $19,900
Questions & Feedback