Teens are three times more likely to crash a vehicle than a 20+ adult, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). That means the choice of automobile for your teen driver is a very important one!
Read more: How to check the safety record of a used car
Here are a few pointers from Consumer Reports to keep in mind when selecting a vehicle for your teen…
1. The fewer cylinders, the better
Four cylinder engines are perfect because they don’t have so much muscle that they’re unwieldy. Typically, that means a nice and boring family sedan! But avoid V6 versions of the popular sedans; they’re too powerful in the hands of an inexperienced driver.
Meanwhile, forget about the need for speed: Look for a humble ride that goes zero to 60 mph in anywhere from 7.5 seconds to 11 seconds.
2. Forget about a sports car!
Sports cars are a definite no-no. Too much muscle! They also cost too much and come with higher insurance rates and maintenance costs. While you might be tempted to buy an older model that’s more affordable, it may lack current safety features.
3. Skip the SUV too
You would think SUVs and pickups would be a no-brainer when it comes to protecting a young driver. But while they’re generally good in multi-vehicle crashes vs. smaller cars, they’re more prone to single vehicle crashes and may not boast the advantage you think.
‘According to IIHS, even though passenger car occupant death rates are similar in single (55 percent) and multi-vehicle (51 percent) crashes, single vehicle crashes accounted for 61 and 62 percent of SUV and pickup truck fatalities in 2013,’ Consumer Reports writes.
4. Minivans can contribute to distracted driving dangers
Distracted driving is a big deal for drivers of all ages. Whether it’s texting, blaring music or transporting distracting passengers, the result is the same: You can be involved in a potentially deadly crash. Minivans and three-row SUVs allow your teen driver to have a gaggle of unruly kids out for a ride. Not good!
5. Don’t forget the #1 safety feature!
With all the new safety features in cars coming soon, there’s one that remains the make-or-break feature you need, particularly if you have younger drivers. Today’s cars are better at limiting injury or fatality when in an accident. That’s due in large part to electronic stability control (ESC). Remember this rule: Do *not* buy a car for a kid if it does not have ESC on it.
Read more: 3 ways to monitor your teen behind the wheel
Top picks: Safest cars for teen drivers
The IIHS took a look at a few of the most affordable picks from the most popular categories.
Volvo S80: 2007 and newer, $5,800
Ford Taurus: 2010 and newer, $10,900
Buick LaCrosse: 2010 and newer, $11,300
Buick Rega: 2011 and newer, $11,500
Lincoln MKS: 2009 and newer, $12,300
Toyota Avalon: 2011 and newer, $15,700
Hyundai Azera: 2012 and newer, $16,800
Volkswagen Jetta sedan and wagon: 2009 and newer, $5,600
Volvo C30: 2008 and newer, $7,000
Volkswagen Passat sedan: 2009 and newer, $7,300
Ford Fusion: 2010 and newer; built after April 2010; 2010 Fusions built before May meet ‘good choice’ criteria, $7,400
Mercury Milan: 2010-11; built after April 2010; 2010 Milans built before May meet ‘good choice’ criteria, $7,400
To see the full list, click here.
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