The Safest And Most Affordable Used Cars For Teens


It’s common knowledge that teenagers are among the riskiest drivers, but they often end up behind the wheel of vehicles that are old, small, or that lack modern safety features, as it’s fairly typical for parents to pass down an older family car. Smaller models don’t safeguard as well as larger ones in crashes, and older cars typically don’t have newer technology like side airbags and electronic stability control (ESC) that can prevent or lessen the impact of collisions and help save lives. 

But a new list of used vehicles for teens that aims to strike a balance between cost and safety was released on Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports to give parents peace of mind focusing on safe, reliable and affordable choices.

It is the first time the two groups have teamed up to recommend used options for teens that minimize risk by evaluating factors that include crash worthiness, performance standards and how well vehicles hold up over time.  

“Our focus has always been safety, as reflected in our vehicle ratings, but we recognize that a lot of other factors go into families’ purchasing decisions,” David Harkey, the Insurance Institute’s president, said in a statement. “This partnership with Consumer Reports will help new drivers and their parents zero in on the best used vehicles overall.” 

For example, what parent wants his or her child stranded because of a breakdown?

In recent years, both organizations have released lists of suggested vehicles for teens based on slightly different criteria. By joining forces, the goal is to make it easier for young drivers and their parents to find a vehicle that “checks all the boxes.” 

The list of 65 recommended used vehicles, ranging from $5,300 to $19,600, the groups said, “shows that safety can be both affordable and practical.”

Absent from the list are sports cars or other vehicles with excessive horsepower, and minicars or other vehicles under 2,750 pounds. “The biggest, heaviest vehicles, including those in the large SUV class, have also been left off the list because they can be hard to handle and often have increased braking distances,”  the groups said. 

Cited vehicles in several size classifications are divided into Good Choices and Best Choices, which offer a slightly higher level of safety. For example, vehicles in both categories offer standard ESC, but the top tier excludes vehicles that have substantially higher than average insurance claim rates under medical payment or personal injury protection coverage.

“Injury claims provide another window onto safety in the real world and may capture things that crash tests don’t,” Harkey added.

While the list is intended specifically for teen drivers, it can also be a resource for any consumer looking for a used car, the two groups emphasized, but added that before purchasing a specific used vehicle, prospective buyers should check for outstanding recalls and have it inspected by a qualified mechanic.

Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at the Consumer Reports  Auto Test Center, said in a statement that her organization is delighted to team up with the Insurance Institute “to jointly develop a list of used vehicles for teens that deliver a smart and effective combination of safety technology and reliability, all without breaking the bank.” 

Vehicles on this list, she added, “can help teens stay safe as they gain driving experience.”

For more information and to view the complete list, click here or here.



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