Home › Blog › Auto › The best used cars for teens: What to know before buying – Today.com
The best used cars for teens: What to know before buying – Today.com
Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2017
While buying a used car is arguably less risky and fraught than it was decades ago, the experience still generates anxiety over possibly getting a lemon — a vehicle with hidden, often dangerous problems.
Now imagine buying that used car for a teenage child with a new license.
Warm-weather driving season is approaching and many newly minted motorists will soon head out for solo drives to the beach, summer jobs and college. Sometimes it makes sense for young people to have their own vehicles instead of borrowing Mom’s keys several times a day. Managing your transportation helps build responsibility and independence, and few teen experiences match the rush of freedom that comes with taking the helm of your own ride.
But for many parents this is a time of emotional and financial struggle as they balance their desire for cars with the most up-to-date safety features with the need to meet strict budgets.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an automotive safety group funded by the insurance industry, just released its latest list of used vehicles it recommends for young drivers. The new list reflects recent safety improvements that have trickled down to lower-cost used cars, SUVs, minivans and pickups. In the past, teenagers, who are among the riskiest drivers, have tended to wind up driving inexpensive vehicles that do not provide enough protection in a crash.
The latest update includes 49 “best choices,” starting under $20,000, and 82 “good choices,” starting under $10,000. While some of the vehicles may still be too expensive for many family budgets, there are also a few low-cost surprises.
Before we get to the list, here are a few IIHS tips to consider when buying cars for teens:
Parents should seek vehicles with the best crash-test ratings they can afford.
Avoid cars with lots of horsepower. Teens may be tempted to test the limits of a powerful engine.
Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer. There are no minicars or small cars on the latest lists. Small SUVs can make the cut because they weigh about the same as a midsize car.
Electronic stability control is a must. This technology, which helps a driver maintain control and cuts single-vehicle fatal crash risk nearly in half, has been required on new vehicles since the 2012 model year. All listed vehicles have the feature standard.
Here are the IIHS lists, based on vehicle type and price range.
Volvo S80 (2007 and newer) $4,000
Toyota Avalon (2015 and newer) $18,800
Infiniti M37/M56/Q70 (2013 and newer) $19,800
Dodge Avenger (2011-14) $5,300
Chrysler 200 sedan (2011 and newer) $5,900
Kia Optima (2011 and newer) $7,600
Volkswagen Passat (2013 and newer; built after October 2012) $8,700
Volkswagen Jetta (2015 and newer) $9,200
Nissan Altima sedan (2013 and newer; built after November 2012) $9,500
Ford Fusion (2013 and newer; built after December 2012) $9,600
Volvo S60 (2011 and newer; price is for 2012, which had lower trim level available) $9,800
Subaru Legacy (2013 and newer; built after August 2012) $10,700
Chevrolet Malibu (2014 and newer) $10,900
Honda Accord sedan and coupe (2013 and newer) $11,100
Toyota Camry (2014 and newer; built after December 2013) $11,200
Mazda 6 (2014 and newer) $11,400
Hyundai Sonata (2015 and newer) $11,900
Acura TL (2012-14; built after April 2012) $12,400
Lincoln MKZ (2013 and newer) $13,300
Subaru Outback 2013 and newer; built after August 2012) $13,600