Do you remember what your first car was? How about the feeling of independence you felt when you got in for the first time? Now your teenager is itching to hit the road in their own wheels (instead of yours), and you want them to be safe. But which vehicles offer excellent safety ratings while still being affordable?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has compiled a list of affordable used vehicles that meet important safety criteria for teen drivers. There are two tiers of recommended vehicles with options at various price points, ranging from less than $5,000 to nearly $20,000, so parents can buy the most safety for their money, whatever their budget.
All the recommended used vehicles have standard ESC and provide good protection in moderate overlap front crashes. Those considered “best choices” for under $20,000 also have good ratings for side crash protection, good head restraints and seats for rear crash protection, and good roof strength to protect occupants in rollover crashes. Vehicles considered “good choices” for under $10,000 have good or acceptable side crash protection and head restraints rated better than poor. Prices on the best choices list start at $7,300, while the cheapest good choice is $4,000.
The recommendations on teen vehicle choice are guided by four main principles:
- Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower. Vehicles with more powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits.
- Bigger, heavier vehicles protect better in a crash. There are no minicars or small cars on the recommended list. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is a must. This feature, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads, reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts.
- Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible. At a minimum, that means good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test, acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Obviously, any new driver in your household should be added to your auto insurance policy. Talk with your insurance professional to see what options you have and what is the best coverage for everyone.
To check the IIHS recommendations, visit www.iihs.org.