The Safest Cars for Teenage Drivers

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Teenage drivers are more at risk of fatal car accidents than other drivers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Safe driving can prevent car accidents, but safe vehicles can prevent fatal injuries. The safest vehicle for inexperienced teenage drivers changes year by year. Modern technologies and advanced safety features are helping make cars more secure for young and inexperienced drivers.

Volkswagen Passat

The Volkswagen Passat, model years 2013 and newer, is a top-rated midsize car for teens, according to data from The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Used models start at just $6,600, making it an affordable choice for a first vehicle. The Passat has top ratings for crashworthiness, as well as an acceptable rating for driver-side crashworthiness.

Subaru Outback

A safe mid-sized vehicle for teens with a moderate price is the 2013 or newer Subaru Outback. This SUV starts at $10,300 used. It has acceptable driver-side crashworthiness and good front, side, roof, and head restraint crashworthiness. The Outback also boasts superior front crash prevention with optional add-ons.

Infiniti Q50

The 2014 or newer Infiniti Q50 is a midsize vehicle with TOP SAFETY PICK+, meaning it has earned good ratings across the board for safety, crashworthiness, and crash prevention. At an estimated price of $18,600, this is a more expensive used vehicle for teens; however, drivers benefit from extra safety features. One such feature is superior front crash prevention and mitigation (with optional equipment).

Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5, model years 2014 and newer, is a safe option for small SUVs for teens. It has Good ratings for all areas of crashworthiness, as well as advanced (a step below superior) crash avoidance and mitigation. Special safety features include side airbags, rollover sensor, and electronic stability control. Prices for a used model start around $10,700.

Volvo S80

If you prefer to buy your teen a larger car, the Volvo S80, model years 2007 and newer, has impressive safety ratings and starts at just $3,900 used. This large luxury vehicle has the highest possible rating in all categories of crashworthiness, including driver-side safety. Safety features include front and rear airbags, electronic stability control, antilock brakes, and daytime running lights.

Buick LaCrosse

A pricier large car option for teens is the 2017 Buick LaCrosse. This vehicle starts at $19,800 used. It has the highest possible ratings for crashworthiness, superior front crash avoidance rating, and forward collision alert. It also has a rollover sensor to deploy side airbags when necessary. Note, however, that this vehicle received a poor headlight rating and a moderate rating for child seat anchor ease-of-use.

Honda Odyssey

One of the safest minivan options for teen drivers is the Honda Odyssey. Used model years 2014 or newer start at an estimated price of $12,700. This was a TOP SAFETY PICK+ vehicle, with great crashworthiness across all categories. It only has basic crash avoidance features, with optional forward collision warning. Other features include daytime running lights, antilock brakes, and side airbags.

Toyota Tacoma

The 2016 or newer Toyota Tacoma is a small truck, with prices starting at $18,100 for a used vehicle. This cab truck received all top marks for crashworthiness. Some of its best safety features include knee airbags for driver and front passenger seats, as well as a rollover sensor with side airbag deployment. Note that this truck does not have front crash prevention. It also received a poor headlight rating.

Toyota Tundra Double Cab

Another safe truck option is the slightly larger Toyota Tundra Double Cab. Used model years 2014 and newer start at $19,000. These trucks have acceptable drive-side crashworthiness and good crashworthiness across other categories. Safety features include power cloth seats with head restraints, knee airbags, side airbags, and daytime running lights.