Few worries keep parents up at night like the thought of their teen driver behind the wheel unsupervised. Inexperience, coupled with distractions from friends and phones, pose a greater risk for young adults. To address these concerns, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports partnered to update a list of the safest vehicles for teen drivers. Both new and used vehicles are included in an effort to provide more reliable, safe transportation for teens — and more peace of mind for their parents.
Safety and Reliability Qualifications
The list splits into three categories: best used choices, good used choices and new vehicles. The winners were determined based on safety, affordability and reliability.
Used — Good Choices
All used vehicles listed under the Good Choices category have earned good ratings in IIHS moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. If rated by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, they earn four or five stars overall, or four or five stars in the front and side impact tests under the previous rating system. For additional protection, Consumer Reports and IIHS also stipulated standard electronic stability systems and a curb weight of more than 2,750 pounds.
Used — Best Choices
Used vehicles listed under Best Choices add good or acceptable ratings in the driver-side small overlap frontal test from IIHS, which has been around since 2012. This list also excludes vehicles with insurance claims that have substantially above-average frequency for coverage involving medical or personal-injury protection.
All used vehicles listed must have above-average reliability scores from Consumer Reports for most model years listed, as well as emergency handling scores of three out of five or higher. Each vehicle also has a dry braking distance from 60 mph to zero of 145 feet or less in the agency’s braking tests.
The list of new vehicles is limited to models that have an IIHS Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus award, average or better reliability ratings from Consumer Reports, and a dry braking distance from 60 mph to zero of less than 140 feet. All models listed have also earned a good or better rating for ease of use on interior controls.
Vehicle Segments and Price Qualifications
The IIHS and Consumer Reports list of safest vehicles for teens has six segments: small cars, mid-size cars, large cars, small SUVs, mid-size SUVs and minivans. Used vehicles start under $20,000 based on average Kelley Blue Book values rounded to the nearest $100. New-car prices reflect the least expensive trim level that qualifies, including an optional package if it’s needed to meet the standards.