According to the IIHS website, the recommendations are guided by the following principles:
- Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower. More powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits.
- Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer. They protect better in a crash, and HLDI analyses of insurance data show that teen drivers are less likely to crash them in the first place. There are no minicars or small cars on the recommended list. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.
- Electronic stability control (ESC) is a must. This feature, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads, reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts.
- Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible. At a minimum, that means good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test, acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Mazda 6 - 2014 and newer $15,100
- Jeep Patriot - 2014 and newer - $13,700
- Mitsubishi Outlander - 2014 and newer - $14,400
- Nissan Rogue (except Select) - 2014 and newer - $18,500
- Jeep Cherokee - 2014 and newer - $17,500
- Nissan Altima - 2013 and newer - $12,200
- Ford Escape - 2013 and newer - $14,000
- Mazda CX-5 - 2013 and newer - $14,800
- Buick Encore - 2013 and newer - $15,500
- Toyota RAV4 - 2013 and newer - $17,600
If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, here are the 10 least expensive vehicles that made the list:
- Volvo XC90 - 2005 and newer - $4,600
- Volkswagen Jetta sedan and wagon - 2007 and newer - $5,800
- Subaru Tribeca/B9 Tribeca - 2006 and newer - $6,000
- Honda Element - 2007-11 - $6,700
- Volvo C30 - 2008 and newer - $7,000
- Volkswagen Passat sedan - 2009 and newer - $7,300
- Mercury Milan - 2010-11; built after April 2010; 2010 Milans built before May meet “good choice” criteria - $7,400
- Ford Fusion - 2010 and newer; built after April 2010; 2010 Fusions built before May meet “good choice” criteria - $7,400
- Volkswagen Tiguan - 2009 and newer - $7,900
If you have a teen starting to drive, we wish you all the best and hope these lists will help you find the your teen’s perfect first ride!