UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Top 5 Safest and Affordable Cars for Teens
Experts agree that a teen driver should drive the safest, most reliable, and newest vehicle if at all possible. So does this mean that when it comes to your teen’s safety, less expensive or used vehicles are out of the question? No, but not surprisingly, you will need to do some research in order to find a budget-friendly vehicle with all or most of the now Federally-required safety features found in new vehicles.
Some important things to consider when purchasing a car for a teen driver include:
- Midsize cars are big enough to protect the driver and passengers in the event of a crash, but small enough for teen drivers to handle easily.
- A four-cylinder engine, as opposed to a V6 engine, has limited acceleration capabilities, making it far less likely for your teen to drive beyond the speed limit.
- Older, used cars may not have the latest safety features Federal law requires of all new vehicles. However, many can come close. Highly recommended safety features include front and side air bags, an antilock braking system (ABS), automatic transmission, electronic stability control (ESC), and daytime running lights.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts crash tests on new vehicles and reports their performance on its safercar.gov website. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts its own testing program and issues safety ratings as well. Both are good resources to check when shopping for a car for your teen.
The five cars listed below are recommended by either Consumer Reports or Edmonds for their affordability and safety features particularly suited to teen drivers. Upon further research, you may find an even lower-priced vehicle, so consider the list below a place to begin shopping for your teen.
- 2005 Saab 9-3 Linear: The mid-sized, relatively inexpensive 2005 Saab 9-3 features plenty of passenger room and trunk space. Safety features include stability control and front and side airbags. Teenagers might not be thrilled with its unexciting interior and weak sound system, but may come to appreciate that this is a car designed to keep its driver and passengers safe.
- 2009 Honda Accord Sedan: All Accords come with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, and front and side airbags. The 2009 Honda Accord sedan received five starts in government crash tests and currently has one of the highest resale values around.
- 2010 Chevrolet Malibu: Yep, you guessed it, it’s another sedan (do you sense a pattern here?). The fuel-efficient 2010 Chevrolet boasts high crash test scores, including a perfect five stars in all government frontal and side crash categories. Standard safety features include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front and side airbags, and the OnStar emergency communications system.
- 2008 Saturn Aura XE: The attractively-designed and budget-friendly 2008 Saturn Aura includes stability control for all V6 models. Additional safety features include antilock disc brakes, front and side airbags, traction control, and the OnStar emergency communications system.
- 2013 Chevrolet Malibu: Newest and priciest on our list of safe, budget-friendly cars for teens, the fully redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is a stylish, mid-sized sedan with a full complement of standard safety features. Rear side airbags will be standard on all Malibus beginning in the summer of 2013. Interestingly, the 2013 Chevy Malibu was worked on by a team of engineers who also happened to be moms!