The safest cars for teenage drivers

The safest cars for teenage drivers
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The fatal accident rate among teenage drivers is three times the rate for all other drivers. So when it comes to choosing the best car for a teen, safety is a key concern.

To help parents make an informed decision, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released a list of the safest used cars for teens.

Read more: How to check the safety record of a used car

More and more safety features have been required for cars made in the past five to 10 years, and one of the most crucial features is electronic stability control. ESC is a technology that helps drivers maintain control of their vehicle during ‘extreme steering maneuvers,’ such as on curves or slippery roads, and helps keep the vehicle headed in the driver’s intended direction. The feature has been mandatory since 2012, and all cars on the IIHS list include stability control.

The IIHS says the average budget for a car for a teenager is $9,800, and the median price paid is just $5,300. But the good news is there are some great, affordable options out there!

‘We would urge parents to consider paying a little more for safety if they can,’ says Ann McCartt, the institute’s senior vice president for research.

Safest cars for teen drivers

Here’s a look at a few of the most affordable picks from the most popular categories.

Large cars

  • 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

Read more: 3 ways to monitor your teen behind the wheel

Midsize cars

  • 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

Small SUVs

  • Honda Element: 2007-11, $6,700
  • Volkswagen Tiguan: 2009 and newer, $7,900
  • Subaru Forester: 2009 and newer, $9,000
  • Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: 2011 and newer, $9,300
  • Hyundai Tucson: 2010 and newer, $10,400

To see the full list, click here.

Alex Thomas Sadler About the author: Alex Thomas Sadler
Alex Thomas Sadler is the Managing Editor of and Clark Howard Digital Products. Alex is also the host of Common Cents, a new series that makes money simple, so you can better understand and take control of your own financial life. Alex graduated from the University of Georgia with bachelor's degrees in ...Read more
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