The Safest Used Cars for Your Teen Driver

Safety is one of the biggest factors parents look for when they are buying their teenage driver’s first car. Given that the fatal accident rate for teenagers is three times that of all other drivers, the parents’ focus on safety is justifiable. Over the last ten years, more and more safety features have become required on car models. Anne McCartt, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s senior vice president of research, states that “it is easier than ever to find a used vehicle with must-have safety features and decent crash test performance without spending a fortune.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is guided by four main principles when defining safety in their recommendations:

  • Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower.
  • Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer than smaller cars
  • Electronic stability control (ESC) is a must.
  • Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible.

The IIHS recommended list of used cars are all under $20,000 for base models, with many choices under $10,000, and even a few as low as $5,000. According to an IIHS survey, average price paid for cars driven by teenagers is $9,800 and the median price is $5,300. McCartt however urges parents to consider paying a little more for safety if they can.

Scroll to see the list of IIHS’ recommended cars for teen drivers.


Midsize car: 2016 Honda Accord $310 per month

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Large car: 2016 Volvo S60 $406 per month

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Small SUV: 2017 Subaru Forester $395 per month

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Midsize SUV: 2016 Kia Sorento $336 per month

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Large SUV: 2017 Chevrolet Traverse $299 per month

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Minivan: 2016 Honda Odyssey $398 per month

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Pickups: 2018 Toyota Tundra $442 per month

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