As covered in the related articles on this page, teens tend to drive in older vehicles with fewer safety features than do other drivers. This contributes significantly to their high crash and injury rate. To help parents reduce these risks, the IIHS rated 95 used vehicle models as either “best” or “good,” indicating specific model years for each.
Fifty-six of the models were rated as “best,” meaning they have electronic stability control (ESC) and rated well on IIHS and NHTSA tests (under the rating schemes of their year of release). The vehicles, mostly 2009 model year and later, all cost less than $20,000 (based on good-condition Kelly Blue Book estimates, July 1, 2014). The list includes eight models valued at $10,000 or less, with the most affordable model being $7,300 (2005 and later Volvo XC90 SUV).
Parents reported in an IIHS survey that the mean purchase price for a teen’s vehicle was about $9,800, while the median was just $5,300. So, for the more budget conscious, a list of 39 “good” vehicles under $10,000 is also provided. These models earned good or acceptable ratings from IIHS and NHTSA (with better-than-poor ratings for head restraint and seats) and have ESC as a standard feature. One model, the Acura TL sedan, is from 2004, but the others are from MY 2005 and later. Thirteen models on this list can be purchased for under $7,000, with the least expensive being $4000 (Saab 9-3 sedan).
The IIHS hopes that parents will consult these lists and learn more about the value of modern safety features using the information on its website. It notes, however, that few of these vehicles would rate well in today’s updated testing, which for the IIHS includes a rigorous small-offset test that is expected to spur improvement in many vehicle models for protection in this type of crash (see SRN Jan/Feb 2013).