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What Are the Best Cars for Teens?

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Few worries keep parents up at night like the thought of their teen driver behind the wheel unsupervised. Inexperience, coupled with distractions from friends and phones, pose a greater risk for young adults. To address these concerns, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports partnered to update a list of the safest vehicles for teen drivers. Both new and used vehicles are included in an effort to provide more reliable, safe transportation for teens — and more peace of mind for their parents. 

Related: Here’s Every Car That Earned an IIHS Top Safety Award for 2021

Safety and Reliability Qualifications

The list splits into three categories: best used choices, good used choices and new vehicles. The winners were determined based on safety, affordability and reliability. 

Used — Good Choices

All used vehicles listed under the Good Choices category have earned good ratings in IIHS moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. If rated by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, they earn four or five stars overall, or four or five stars in the front and side impact tests under the previous rating system. For additional protection, Consumer Reports and IIHS also stipulated standard electronic stability systems and a curb weight of more than 2,750 pounds. 

Used — Best Choices

Used vehicles listed under Best Choices add good or acceptable ratings in the driver-side small overlap frontal test from IIHS, which has been around since 2012. This list also excludes vehicles with insurance claims that have substantially above-average frequency for coverage involving medical or personal-injury protection.

All used vehicles listed must have above-average reliability scores from Consumer Reports for most model years listed, as well as emergency handling scores of three out of five or higher. Each vehicle also has a dry braking distance from 60 mph to zero of 145 feet or less in the agency’s braking tests. 

New Vehicles 

The list of new vehicles is limited to models that have an IIHS Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus award, average or better reliability ratings from Consumer Reports, and a dry braking distance from 60 mph to zero of less than 140 feet. All models listed have also earned a good or better rating for ease of use on interior controls. 

Vehicle Segments and Price Qualifications

The IIHS and Consumer Reports list of safest vehicles for teens has six segments: small cars, mid-size cars, large cars, small SUVs, mid-size SUVs and minivans. Used vehicles start under $20,000 based on average Kelley Blue Book values rounded to the nearest $100. New-car prices reflect the least expensive trim level that qualifies, including an optional package if it’s needed to meet the standards. 

Safest Used Cars for Teens — Best Choices

01 mazda mazda3 2019 angle  exterior  front  red e1568219402129 jpg 2019 Mazda3 | photo by Christian Lantry

Small Cars 

Mid-Size Cars

Large Cars

Small SUVs

Mid-Size SUVs


Safest Used Cars for Teens — Good Choices

01 hyundai tucson 2019 angle  dynamic  exterior  front  grey jpg 2019 Hyundai Tucson | photo by Christian Lantry

Small Cars

Mid-Size Cars

  • Toyota Prius v (2012-14), $8,300
  • Toyota Camry (2012 or newer), $9,000
  • Honda Accord sedan (2012), $9,300

Large Car

  • Ford Taurus (2011), $6,700

Small SUVs

  • Hyundai Tucson (2012), $7,100
  • Toyota RAV4 (2013-14), $12,164

Mid-Size SUVs


  • Toyota Sienna (2011-14), $8,300

Safest New Cars for Teens

chevrolet equinox rs 2021 01 angle  exterior  front  red jpg 2022 Chevrolet Equinox | Manufacturer image

Small Cars

  • Mazda3 sedan or hatchback, $19,900
  • Honda Insight, $21,900
  • Toyota Corolla sedan (XLE/XSE with Advanced Lighting) or hatchback (XSE with Preferred Package), $23,600
  • Honda Civic (Touring), $27,700

Mid-Size Cars

  • Subaru Legacy, $22,300
  • Kia K5 (built after November 2020), $23,400
  • Mazda6, $23,600
  • Nissan Altima, $23,600
  • Toyota Camry, $23,800
  • Honda Accord, $25,700
  • Subaru Outback, $26,100
  • Hyundai Sonata (Limited or Hybrid Limited), $32,900

Small SUVs

  • 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), $27,300
  • Hyundai Tucson (Ultimate, Sport or Limited), $27,700
  • Honda CR-V (Touring, Hybrid Touring, Hybrid LX, Hybrid EX or Hybrid EX-L), $30,300
  • Lexus UX (with triple-beam LED headlights), $33,500
  • Kia Sportage (SX Turbo trim), $34,600
  • Toyota RAV4 (Hybrid Limited with adaptive front headlights), $36,900

Mid-Size SUVs

  • 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


  • Honda Odyssey, $31,500

Related Video: Best Cars for First-Time Drivers

More From’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Photo of Jane Ulitskaya
Former News Editor Jane Ulitskaya joined the team in 2021, and her areas of focus included researching and reporting on vehicle pricing, inventory and auto finance trends. Email Jane Ulitskaya

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