Best cars for teen drivers

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Best cars for teen drivers
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When it comes to the best cars for teen drivers, safety is a key concern. But some new info from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has me reversing some of my longstanding advice.

I used to say you wanted teen drivers in an underpowered car with a lot of metal around them. That traditionally meant an older 4-cylinder sedan.

What are the safest — and the deadliest — cars on the road?

The IIHS took a look at driver deaths per 1,000,000 vehicles on the road among 2011 models. What they found is eye-opening. Nine cars did not have a single death for that model year. They include:

  • Audi A4 4WD   
  • Honda Odyssey   
  • Kia Sorento 2WD      
  • Lexus RX 350 4WD   
  • Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 4WD   
  • Subaru Legacy 4WD   
  • Toyota Highlander hybrid 4WD   
  • Toyota Sequoia 4WD   
  • Volvo XC90 4WD

On the other hand, here are the 2011 vehicles models with the most deaths per 1 million registered vehicles:

  • Kia Rio      (149 deaths) 
  • Nissan Versa sedan (130 deaths)  
  • Hyundai Accent 4 door   (120 deaths)
  • Chevrolet Aveo    (99 deaths)
  • Hyundai Accent 2 door (86 deaths)

My theory is that the profile of the driver of that second group has a fair amount to do with fatality rates. Some of those cars attract younger male drivers who may be inclined to drive kind of recklessly.

I said earlier that I’ve adjusted my advice about what kind of car to put a young driver in. The data from IIHS notes that cars built in 2008 — just 3 model years before the 2011s — had a fatality rate that is almost 50% greater than the 2011 models. That’s because the 2008s often didn’t have this #1 safety feature all cars need, among others. Three model years can make that big of a difference!

So now I’m advising to parents to put kids in newer model year vehicles instead of old beaters — even though that means you’ll have to pay extra for comprehensive and collision through your insurer.

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Clark Howard About the author:
Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. More about Clark
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