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 or license plate 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 26, 2022

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 April 28, 2022, 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
Ford C-Max Hybrid 2014-15 $8,400
Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback 2014 or newer $8,700
Chevrolet Volt 2014 $10,500
Subaru Impreza sedan or wagon 2015, 2018-20 $11,000
Toyota Corolla hatchback 2019 or newer $18,700
Honda Insight 2019 or newer $19,800
Subaru Crosstrek 2018 or newer $19,900
Midsize cars Model years Price
Subaru Legacy 2013 or newer; built after August 2012 $8,300
Subaru Outback 2013 or newer; built after August 2012 $8,800
Volkswagen Passat 2015, 2017 $10,400
Mazda 6 2014-19 $10,800
Toyota Prius v 2015-17 $12,400
Lincoln MKZ 2015 or newer $13,200
Volvo S60 2018 $19,100
Audi A6 2016-19 $19,400
Large cars Model years Price
Toyota Avalon 2015 or newer $15,700
Hyundai Genesis 2016 $18,100
Small SUVs Model years Price
Mazda CX-5 2014 or newer; built after October 2013 $10,200
Honda CR-V 2015 or newer $14,900
Hyundai Kona 2018, 2021 $18,100
Mazda CX-3 2019 $19,200
Volvo XC60 2017 $19,400
Midsize SUVs Model years Price
Ford Edge 2015, 2020; built after May 2015
$12,900
Nissan Murano 2015 or newer $14,700
Chevrolet Equinox 2017 $15,600
GMC Terrain 2017 $16,000
Lexus NX 2015 or newer $16,700
Hyundai Santa Fe 2017-19; built after March 2016 $17,800
Toyota Highlander 2014 or newer $17,800
Minivans Model years Price
Toyota Sienna 2015-18 $14,700
Kia Sedona 2017 $15,200
Honda Odyssey 2017, 2020 or newer $17,100

Good Choices — used

Updated May 26, 2022

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 2011-13; built after December 2010
$6,000
Honda Civic sedan 2012-15, 2019 or newer $7,100
Toyota Prius 2011 or newer $8,100
Chevrolet Volt 2013 $8,800
Toyota Corolla sedan 2014 or newer $10,900
Lexus CT200h 2012-13 $11,100
Midsize cars Model years Price
Toyota Prius v 2012-14 $8,500
Toyota Camry 2012 or newer $9,400
Honda Accord sedan 2012 or newer or coupe 2013 or newer $9,900
Volkswagen Jetta 2016 $10,900
Ford Fusion 2015, 2018 $12,200
BMW 3 series sedan 2016 $14,500
Nissan Altima 2017, 2020 $14,700
Large cars Model years Price
Ford Taurus 2011 $6,300
Hyundai Genesis 2011 $6,900
Toyota Avalon 2011-14 $9,400
Small SUVs Model years Price
Nissan Rogue 2014-20 $11,000

Recommended new vehicles

Updated May 26, 2022

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 as of April 28, 2022, 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 $21,200
Honda Insight $26,100
Midsize cars Price
Subaru Legacy $23,800
Kia K5  $24,700
Subaru Outback $27,500
Lexus IS $38,900
Small SUVs Price
Chevrolet Trailblazer $21,900
Mazda CX-30  $23,200
Hyundai Tucson $25,800
Mazda CX-5 $26,800
Ford Bronco Sport $28,200
Buick Encore GX (Essence trim) $28,800
Toyota RAV4 (XLE, XLE Premium, SE, XSE, Adventure, Limited or TRD trims) $30,300
Honda CR-V (Hybrid EX, Hybrid EX-L, Touring or Hybrid Touring trims) $32,300
Lexus UX (with Triple Beam LED Headlamps with Auto-Leveling) $35,300
Midsize SUVs Price
Hyundai Santa Fe (built after July 2021) $27,800
Hyundai Palisade $34,300
Nissan Murano $35,000
Mazda CX-9 $35,700
Toyota Highlander $37,100
Minivans Price
Honda Odyssey $33,300