Safe, reliable, affordable: Recommended vehicles for teen drivers

In an ideal world, all parents of teenagers would be able to buy for their teens a brand-new vehicle fully stocked with the most up-to-date safety gear such as electronic stability control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warnings and more. But much of the time, vehicles with these features are simply not in the budget.

A survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) of parents of teens found that 83% of those who purchased a vehicle for their teen said they bought it used.

Riskiest drivers in riskiest vehicles

A recent IIHS study also found that the riskiest drivers (teenagers) also drive the riskiest vehicles (older, smaller), which tend to be involved in a motor vehicle crash.

The problem with older vehicles is that they are most likely to lack the advanced safety equipment mentioned above. The problem with smaller vehicles is that they lack the crash-absorbing bulk of larger vehicles that protect vehicle occupants’ survival space in accidents.

Grim percentages

The IIHS says more than a quarter of teenage drivers killed in 2013-17 crashes were driving a micro, mini or small car, and nearly two-thirds were driving vehicles that were from 6 years old to 15 years old.

Less than 4% of the teenage drivers killed were in vehicles 3 years old or newer.

The organization recently teamed up with Consumer Reports to make it easier for parents to find safe, reliable and affordable used vehicles fit for their teens, publishing a list of recommended vehicles.

Recommended vehicles

These recommended vehicles earned good or acceptable ratings from IIHS in a variety of categories, including roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as driver-side small overlap front test. All vehicles also come standard with electronic stanbility control (ESC) and weigh more than 2,750 pounds. Additionally, the vehicles received above-average scores in reliability from Consumer Reports.

The list includes vehicles categorized by small, midsize and large cars, as well as small and midsize SUVs and minivans. Model years range from 2013 to the present, while price ranges from $7,000 to nearly $20,000.

Other key safety issues

Of course, it’s also important for parents to ensure that no matter the vehicle and no matter the budget, young drivers must understand the dangers of drunk driving, excess speed and distracted driving. While driver’s education classes can provide a good foundation for teenage drivers on such issues and more, parents can continue reinforcing such important safety lessons at home to keep everyone safe on the roads.