Safe vehicles for teens

IIHS-HLDI & Consumer Reports collaboration

For teenagers, the combination of immaturity and inexperience makes driving especially risky. If they’re going to drive, choosing a safe vehicle is key. In addition to safety, reliability and affordability are also top concerns for families.

IIHS and Consumer Reports (CR) have joined forces to make it easier for young drivers or their parents to find a vehicle that checks all those boxes.

Our recommendations include two tiers of used vehicles, Best Choices and slightly more affordable Good Choices. Starting prices for recommended used models range from about $6,000 to nearly $20,000. A separate list of new vehicles for teens offers an even higher level of safety.

Remember to check for recalls!
Use the vehicle identification number to check for outstanding recalls before buying a used vehicle. To receive future recall notices, notify the manufacturer of your purchase. NHTSA also advises vehicle owners to check its database for new recalls every six months or so.

Best Choices — used

Updated May 20, 2021

All listed vehicles earn good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, original side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as a good or acceptable rating in the driver-side small overlap front test. 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 electronic stability control and have a curb weight greater than 2,750 pounds.

These vehicles have above-average reliability scores from CR for the majority of model years listed and CR emergency handling scores of 3 out of 5 or higher. They also have dry braking distances (going from 60 mph to zero) of 145 feet or less.

Vehicles with substantially higher than average claim frequency under medical payment or personal injury protection coverage are excluded from this list.

Prices, provided by Kelley Blue Book and rounded to the nearest $100, are average U.S. values from May 1, 2021, for the lowest trim level and earliest applicable model year. The estimates are based on the following criteria: vehicle in good condition, typical mileage and private party purchase.

Some listed models include a “built after” date. This applies when a manufacturer makes changes to improve safety in the middle of a model year. Information about when a specific vehicle was manufactured can be found on the certification label typically affixed to the driver door or near it.

Small cars Model years Price
Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback 2014 or newer; built after October 2013 $8,100
Toyota Prius 2014 or newer; built after November 2013 $8,600
Hyundai Elantra GT 2018 or newer $15,200
Subaru Crosstrek 2017 or newer $17,900
Honda Insight 2019 or newer $18,200
Toyota Prius Prime 2017 or newer $18,200
Toyota Corolla hatchback 2019 or newer $18,300
Kia Niro 2019 $18,600
Subaru Impreza sedan and wagon 2019 $19,400
Midsize cars Model years Price
Subaru Outback 2013 or newer; built after August 2012 $8,700
Subaru Legacy 2013 or newer; built after August 2012 $8,800
Mazda 6 2014 or newer $10,100
Lincoln MKZ 2013, 2016, 2018 or newer $10,300
Honda Accord sedan or coupe 2013 or newer $10,900
Volkswagen Passat 2016-17 $11,400
Toyota Prius v 2015-18 $11,600
Volkswagen Jetta 2017 $12,900
Volvo S60 2016, 18 $14,100
BMW 3 series 2017 or newer; built after November 2016; 4-cylinder only $17,900
Large cars Model years Price
Ford Taurus 2014 $9,600
Hyundai Genesis 2016 $18,700
Small SUVs Model years Price
Mazda CX-5 2014 or newer; built after October 2013 $9,300
Nissan Rogue 2014, 2016-18, 2020 $10,100
Subaru Forester 2016 or newer $13,500
Honda CR-V 2015 or newer $14,800
Kia Sportage 2017, 2018, 2020 $14,800
Toyota RAV4 2015 or newer; built after November 2014 $14,900
Honda HR-V 2017 or newer; built after March 2016 $15,400
Hyundai Kona 2018 or newer $15,800
Buick Encore 2018-19 $16,300
Hyundai Tucson 2018 or newer $16,800
Mazda CX-3 2019 or newer $17,800
Volvo XC60 2017 $19,200
Midsize SUVs Model years Price
Chevrolet Equinox 2017, 2019 $13,700
Nissan Murano 2015 or newer $14,800
GMC Terrain 2017, 2019 $15,100
Lexus NX 2015-16, 2018 or newer $16,000
Kia Sorento 2017-18 $16,500
Hyundai Santa Fe 2017-19; built after March 2016 $18,700
Ford Edge 2018 or newer $19,600
Mazda CX-9 2017 or newer; built after November 2016 $19,600
Audi Q5 2016-19 $19,800
Minivans Model years Price
Toyota Sienna 2015-16 $13,900
Honda Odyssey 2016 $15,400
Kia Sedona 2017 $15,600

Good Choices — used

Updated May 20, 2021

All listed vehicles earn good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, original 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 electronic stability control and have a curb weight greater than 2,750 pounds.

These vehicles have above-average reliability scores from CR for the majority of model years listed and CR emergency handling scores of 3 out of 5 or higher. They also have dry braking distances (going from 60 mph to zero) of 145 feet or less.

Prices, provided by Kelley Blue Book and rounded to the nearest $100, are average U.S. values from May 1, 2021, for the lowest trim level and earliest applicable model year. The estimates are based on the following criteria: vehicle in good condition, typical mileage and private party purchase.

Some listed models include a “built after” date. This applies when a manufacturer makes changes to improve safety in the middle of a model year. Information about when a specific vehicle was manufactured can be found on the certification label typically affixed to the driver door or near it.

Small cars Model years Price
Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback 2012-13 $6,400
Toyota Prius 2011-13 $6,700
Honda Civic sedan 2012-15 $6,900
Toyota Corolla sedan 2014 or newer $10,300
Midsize cars Model years Price
Toyota Prius v 2012-14 $8,300
Toyota Camry 2012 or newer $9,000
Honda Accord sedan 2012 $9,300
Large car Model years Price
Ford Taurus 2011 $6,700
Small SUVs Model years Price
Hyundai Tucson 2012 $7,100
Toyota RAV4 2013-14 $12,164
Midsize SUVs Model years Price
Toyota Venza 2009-15 $8,000
Toyota Highlander 2008 or newer $8,200
Acura RDX 2013-16 $13,661
Ford Edge 2014-15 $11,104
Lexus RX 2010 or newer $11,092
Minivans Model years Price
Toyota Sienna 2011-14 $8,300

Recommended new vehicles

Updated May 20, 2021

All listed vehicles are winners of the IIHS Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award and come with standard vehicle-to-vehicle automated emergency braking.

In addition, all vehicles have average or better reliability, based on CR’s member surveys; average or better scores from CR’s emergency handling tests; and dry braking distances of less than 140 feet from 60 mph in CR’s brake tests. They also receive a rating of good or better from CR for ease of use of their controls.

Vehicles that had substantially higher than average insurance claim rates under medical payment or personal injury protection coverage in recent model years are excluded unless they have been redesigned.

Prices, rounded to the nearest $100, reflect Kelley Blue Book New Car Fair Purchase Prices for the least expensive trim level that qualifies for the recommendation. If a particular option package is needed, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for that package has been added to the price.

Some listed models include a “built after” date. This applies when a manufacturer makes changes to improve safety in the middle of a model year. Information about when a specific vehicle was manufactured can be found on the certification label typically affixed to the driver door or near it.

Small cars Price
Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback $19,900
Honda Insight $21,900
Toyota Corolla sedan or hatchback (XLE/XSE sedan + Advanced Lighting; XSE hatchback + Preferred package)
$23,600
Honda Civic (Touring trim) $27,700
Midsize cars Price
Subaru Legacy $22,300
Kia K5 (built after November 2020) $23,400
Mazda 6 $23,600
Nissan Altima $23,600
Toyota Camry $23,800
Honda Accord $25,700
Subaru Outback $26,100
Hyundai Sonata (Limited or Hybrid Limited trims) $32,900
Small SUVs Price
Mazda CX-3 $20,800
Mazda CX-30 (built after September 2020) $21,700
Subaru Forester $24,200
Mazda CX-5 $25,200
Chevrolet Equinox (LT trim) $27,300
Hyundai Tucson (Ultimate, Sport or Limited trims) $27,700
Honda CR-V (Touring, Hybrid Touring, Hybrid LX, Hybrid EX or Hybrid EX-L trim) $30,300
Lexus UX (with Triple-Beam LED Headlights) $33,500
Kia Sportage (SX Turbo trim) $34,600
Toyota RAV4 (Hybrid Limited trim with Adaptive Front Headlight System) $36,900
Midsize SUVs Price
Mazda CX-9 $32,600
Hyundai Palisade $32,700
Nissan Murano $33,100
Toyota Highlander $34,700
Hyundai Santa Fe (Limited or Calligraphy trim) $38,000
Kia Sorento (SX or SX Prestige trim) $39,500
Minivan Price
Honda Odyssey $31,500