Used Cars for Teens

We recommend the following late-model used cars for young drivers. Each one meets minimum requirements for crashworthiness and reliability. We recommend only cars with side-impact airbags because they have proved in many cases to be the difference between serious injury and minimal or no injury. If side-impact airbags did not come standard on the model you're interested in, make sure the car you're looking at actually has them.

Side torso bags protect the torso of front-seat occupants, while curtain airbags protect the head of everyone with a window seat. Cars with both types of airbags are better. A few cars have combination torso/head airbags for front occupants only.

The sport utility vehicles listed all exhibit proven stability and/or have an electronic stability system, which can help prevent a loss of control or possibly a rollover.

Standard and optional side torso airbags, side curtain airbags and torso/head airbags are indicated in the chart below. Cars are listed alphabetically in each category:

Small 2005 - 2006 Cars
ModelSide TorsoTorso/HeadSide Curtain
2005 Honda CivicOptionalN/AN/A
2006 Honda CivicStandardN/AStandard
2005 Lexus IS 300StandardN/AStandard
2005 Subaru ImprezaN/AOptionalN/A
2006 Subaru ImprezaN/AStandardN/A
Toyota CorollaOptionalN/AOptional
Volvo S40StandardN/AStandard
Worth considering if below-average reliability isn't a concern:
Volkswagen GolfStandardN/AStandard
Volkswagen JettaStandardN/AStandard
Midsize 2005 - 2006 Cars
ModelSide TorsoTorso/HeadSide Curtain
Acura TSXStandardN/AStandard
Acura TLStandardN/AStandard
Chevrolet MalibuOptionalN/AOptional
Ford FusionOptionalN/AOptional
Ford TaurusN/AOptionalN/A
Honda AccordStandardN/AStandard
Hyundai SonataStandardN/AStandard
Mercury SableN/AOptionalN/A
Toyota CamryOptionalN/AOptional
Worth considering if below-average reliability isn't a concern:
Volkswagen PassatStandardN/AStandard
Full-Size 2005 - 2006 Cars
ModelSide TorsoTorso/HeadSide Curtain
2006 Chevrolet ImpalaN/AN/AStandard
Ford Crown VictoriaN/AOptionalN/A
Ford Five HundredOptionalN/AOptional
Lincoln Town CarN/AStandardN/A
Mercury Grand MarquisN/AOptionalN/A
Toyota AvalonStandardN/AStandard
2005 - 2006 SUVs/Hatchbacks
ModelSide TorsoTorso/HeadSide Curtain
2005 Honda PilotStandardN/AN/A
2006 Honda PilotStandardN/AStandard
Subaru ForesterN/AStandardN/A
Toyota 4RunnerOptionalN/AOptional
Toyota HighlanderOptionalN/AOptional
Toyota RAV4OptionalN/AOptional
Worth considering if below-average reliability isn't a concern:
2005 Ford ExplorerN/AN/AOptional
2006 Ford ExplorerStandardN/AOptional
2005 Lincoln AviatorN/AN/AStandard
2005 Mercury MountaineerN/AN/AOptional
2006 Mercury MountaineerStandardN/AOptional
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