May 22, 2024 - Business

The safest used cars for teen drivers

Image of a silver 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback

The 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback has abundant safety features that make it a good choice for novice drivers. Photo courtesy of Toyota

If your teenager needs a car this summer, a new report lists plenty of safe choices available at a decent price.

Why it matters: Young, inexperienced drivers are prone to mistakes, so the more safety technologies they have as a backstop, the better.

  • Features like automatic emergency braking (AEB) are now more widely available on used cars in the $15,000 price range.

Driving the news: Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) identified 58 used models ranging from $5,800 to $19,900 that are suitable for young drivers.

  • All scored well in IIHS crash tests and earned strong marks from CR for braking, handling and reliability.
  • Their top recommendations also come standard with AEB, which automatically brakes if the driver fails to react quickly enough.

Zoom in: The report's "Best Choices" include used models of the Toyota Corolla, Camry, Prius and RAV4.

  • The Honda Civic, Accord and CR-V are also recommended, along with the Hyundai Sonata and Tucson and the Kia Sportage.
  • Used models from Subaru, Mazda, Volvo and Nissan also made the list.
  • Among domestic models, the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Ford Edge are recommended.

Caveat: Parents should be cautious about getting their teens an electric vehicle.

  • Although EVs are just as safe as gas-powered vehicles, their rapid acceleration is a concern, CR and IIHS warn.
  • A teen driver's first car shouldn't be too small, too big or too fast, they said, which is why they don't recommend sports cars, compacts, large SUVs or pickups.

The big picture: Crash avoidance features are especially effective for teen drivers, according to the IIHS-affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute.

  • AEB reduces the number of police-reported rear-end crashes by half, per IIHS.
  • Rear-end crashes account for nearly a quarter of all teen-involved crashes.

The bottom line: Crash avoidance technology is finally filtering through the fleet and into affordable used models.

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