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Car Insurance

Top 5 safest cars for teen drivers

You don’t have to sacrifice safety for affordability when it comes to finding a car for your teen. Read for a list of reasonably priced vehicles that meet top safety criteria.

Your teen just got their license and while you’re relieved they’ll be able to drive themselves to school, band practice, sports practice, the mall, their friend’s house, etc. you’re worried about how safe they’ll be getting there. Like any parent, you want the best for your child, but a brand new top safety pick vehicle isn’t always in the budget. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice safety for affordability. There are many fairly priced, used vehicle options that meet teen specific safety criteria. In fact, a survey conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that 83% of those who purchased a vehicle for their teens, chose a used one.

Safety Criteria for a teen’s vehicle

  • Low Horsepower Teen drivers shouldn’t own a vehicle with a lot of horsepower. Vehicles with a higher number of cylinders, and thus horsepower, can accelerate in a matter of seconds. This tempting need for speed should be avoided at all costs.

  • Large Size SUV Bigger, heavier vehicles protect passengers better in an accident. There’s also data available that shows teens are less likely to get into an accident when they drive one in the first place.

  • Electronic Stability Control ESC helps the driver keep control of the vehicle on curved or wet roads. These controls reduce the chances of single car accidents by 50% and has been required in all vehicles since 2012. Check for ESC in vehicles of model year 1996 or older.

  • Airbags and ABS Dual front airbags have been mandatory in vehicles since 1998, but a car with side airbags would be a plus. Anti-lock brake systems (ABS) have been mandatory since 2012 and prevent skidding loss of steering control.

  • Crash Avoidance Technology Features like rear view cameras, blind spot detection sensors, and lane departure warnings are helpful for any driver, regardless of experience. However, keep in mind that vehicles with this kind of tech comes at a hefty price. These newer vehicles can cost thousands more than an older, used model.

  • High Safety Ratings A vehicle for your teen should at least have a four or five star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA). It should have at minimum a “good” rating in the IIHS moderate overlap front test and an “acceptable” rating in the IIHS side crash test.

  • Monitoring Devices Some car manufactures give parents the option to oversee their teen’s driving habits through technology. For example, Ford offers a device called MyKey on 2012 models that allows parents to set a speed limit and low fuel level warning on their teen’s car. There are many other tech options to keep your teen safe behind the wheel.

    Best Used Vehicles for Teens

    The IIHS site had a full list of approved vehicles for young drivers. Below is an abridged list of the least expensive:


    Volvo C30, model year 2008 or newer, $7,000

    2006-subaru-b9 tribeca-frontside_stb9tri061

    Subaru Tribeca, model year 2006 or newer, $6,000


    Volvo S80, model year 2007 or newer, $5,800


    Volkswagen Jetta, model year 2009 or newer, $5,600


    Volvo XC90, model year 2005 or newer, $4,600

    Remember that budgeting and finding ways to save money for your teen driver doesn’t stop when you have the car title in your hand. Drivers age eighteen to twenty-five have some of the highest insurance premiums on the road because they’re inexperienced. So it’s important to research ways new drivers can unlock discounts on their car insurance, being added to their parent’s policy instead of purchasing their own. And if you’re looking to switch to a provider that will give you better rates, it’s best to do comparative shopping on an insurance quote site like Insurify.com. Insurify allows you to customize, build, compare, and purchase a policy online in minutes. Professional insurance agents can walk you through every step of your policy to ensure your teen has enough coverage for whatever the road holds. You’ll have more peace of mind knowing you child is in a safe vehicle with enough coverage to protect them, your family, and your assets.