Insurance Institute recommends safest used cars for teen drivers – Los Angeles Times

Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Many teens are driving cars that are poorly matched to their driving skills, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The institute released its first list of recommended used vehicles for teens Wednesday after finding in a survey of 500 parents that 83% bought a used, rather than new, car for their teen to drive.

The institute reviewed crash ratings and safety features — such as electronic stability control systems — for used cars and then obtained price data from Kelley Blue Book to build its list.

Mindful that families can have varying budgets, IIHS recommended cars along a broad spectrum of prices. It recommended, for instance, the Lincoln MKS from the 2009 model year, which starts at about $15,500, but also 2006 to ’08 Volkswagen Passats, which start at about $5,000 on the used market.

“These lists of recommended used vehicles can help consumers factor in safety in addition to affordability,” said Adrian Lund, the group’s president.

IIHS found that teens tend to drive small or subcompact cars that don’t offer good crash protection and also older cars, from the 2006 model year or earlier. That’s a problem because older vehicles are less likely to have important safety features such as electronic stability control and side air bags.

Teenagers killed in crashes are more likely than adults to have been behind the wheel of small and older vehicles, IIHS said. Among fatally injured drivers ages 15 to 17 from 2008 through 2012, 29% were in small or subcompact cars. That compared with 20% for drivers ages 35 to 50.

When picking a car for their new driver, parents should follow these guidelines:

* Avoid high-horsepower vehicles that could tempt teens into speeding.

* Select bigger cars that have the mass to protect occupants in an accident.

* Put young drivers in vehicles equipped with electronic stability control, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads. Such systems are as important as seat belts, the insurance group said.

* Parents should also pick vehicles with good IIHS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety ratings.

“You don’t want to get your kid the spiffy red BMW that will be tempting to race,” said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Safety and Reliability.

Parents purchasing a used car for their teen should also check to see if the vehicle has been recalled but not fixed, Shahan said.

“There are something like 36 million cars out there that have a pending recall,” Shahan said.

The insurance group found that, on average, parents spend about $9,800 on a car for a teen. But the median point of car purchases for teens is far lower, at just $5,300.

“Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get a safe vehicle for a teenager at the prices most people are paying,” said Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research. “Our advice to parents would be to remember the risks teens take and consider paying a little more.”

All the cars on the IIHS list have electronic stability control and provide good crash protection.

The group’s “best choices” for less than $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 less than $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 least expensive “good choice” is $4,000.

Here are the lists:

BEST CHOICES:
Recommended used vehicles for teens starting under $20,000

Vehicles on this list earn good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. If rated by NHTSA, they earn 4 or 5 stars overall or 4 or 5 stars in the front and side tests under the old rating scheme. All come with standard ESC.

Prices, rounded to the nearest $100, were taken from Kelley Blue Book on July 1, 2014, for the lowest trim level and earliest applicable model year based on the following criteria: vehicle in good condition, typical mileage and private party purchase in Arlington, Va.

LARGE CARS    MODEL YEARS    PRICE
Saab 9-5 sedan    2010 and later    $17,500
Lincoln MKS         2009 and later    $15,500
Buick Regal          2011 and later    $13,500
Ford Taurus         2010 and later    $13,500
Buick LaCrosse     2010 and later    $12,900
Volvo S80           2007 and later     $9,000

MIDSIZE CARS    MODEL YEARS    PRICE
Toyota Prius v                         2012 and later    $19,100
Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan    2009 and later    $16,000
Honda Accord sedan                 2012 and later    $14,400
Audi A4                                  2009 and later    $14,300
Toyota Camry                         2012 and later    $14,300
Buick Verano                           2012 and later    $14,100
Subaru Outback                       2010 and later    $14,000
Lincoln MKZ        built after April 2010 and later    $13,500
Kia Optima                              2011 and later    $13,300
Hyundai Sonata                       2011 and later    $12,100
Subaru Legacy                        2010 and later    $11,900
Dodge Avenger                       2011 and later    $11,600
Audi A3                                 2008 and later    $11,300
Volkswagen CC                       2009 and later    $11,200
Chev. Malibu      built after Nov. 2009 and later   $10,900
Chrysler 200 sedan                  2011 and later    $10,700
Mercury Milan    built after April 2010 and later    $10,700
Ford Fusion       built after April 2010 and later    $10,200
Volkswagen Passat                  2009 and later    $10,000
Volvo C30                               2008 and later    $9,800
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen    2009 and later    $9,400
Volkswagen Jetta                     2009 and later    $8,200

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