Teen drivers have a notorious reputation for driving dangerously, but that’s not without reason – according to the LA Times, drivers ages 16 to 19 are about three times more likely than drivers age 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. These days, most new cars are equipped with high-tech safety features that save lives. But for many people, buying a sweet new back-to-school car is a cost-prohibitive luxury.
If you’re the parent of a teenage driver - or a teen shopping for your first car, good news: the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released its first-ever report listing the safest used cars on the market, offering budget-minded shoppers a guideline on how to secure some safe wheels without going overboard on monthly payments.
The Safest Used Cars Under $20,000
- Saab 9-5 Sedan (model years 2010 and newer). At an average price of $17,500, the Saab 9-5 Sedan earned top ratings in the IIHS’s moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests.
- Toyota Prius V (model years 2012 and newer). For those interested in less car (and thus better fuel efficiency) the Prius V boasts top ratings for moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. Unfortunately, it earned poor ratings in small overlap front crash tests. Average cost for this vehicle is $19,100.
- Honda CR-V (model years 2012 and newer). Small SUV fans could do a lot worse than pick up a CR-V, which averages $18,100 and gets top ratings in moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. A rating of marginal for small overlap front crash tests makes this a near-ideal safety rated ride.
- Volvo XC60 (model years 2010 and newer). The name Volvo always calls two things to mind: safety and cost. Fortunately for first-time car buyers, you can usually get behind the wheel of a 2010 XC60 midsize SUV for around $18,000 and enjoy all the benefits of top crash test ratings in all categories.
- Buick Enclave (model years 2011 and newer). Large SUVs typically rate high on crash safety test, but they’re not always within reach of someone with a limited spending range. At an average cost of $19,900 the Enclave barely comes in at “under $20,000” but considering it achieves the highest test crash ratings, the extra money may be worth it.
- Chrysler Town & Country (model years 2012 and newer). Rated one of the safest used minivans on the road today, the 2012 Town & Country normally goes for around $18,100 used. It also achieves top safety ratings in all tested categories.
The Safest Used Cars Under $10,000
- Acura RL (model years 2005 and newer). Costing on average $9,700 the Acura RL brings affordability and the highest level of available safety coverage into a single large-sized car. Moderate overlap front and side crash ratings are high, but roof strength and head restraint ratings are only marginal - which is one step above the lowest rating.
- Subaru Legacy (model year 2009). Achieving top ratings in moderate overlap front, side and head restraints, the 2009 Legacy is quite possibly the optimal choice for the young driver looking for low cost, low mileage and safety in design. Average market cost is $9,900.
- Nissan Rogue (model years 2008 and newer). Safety ratings for this small SUV are a bit scattered, but the good news is none is rated poor. Moderate overlap front, side and head restraint crash ratings are the highest they can be, while roof strength ranks average. Small overlap front tests were marginal, but at an average cost of $9,800 could make it a great choice for first-time car owners and teen drivers.
- Mazda CX-9 (model years 2007 and newer). The IIHS ranks this the safest midsize used SUV out there and estimates its Kelley Blue Book value at $9,800 - but its poor performance in small overlap front crash tests could be cause to keep looking for those seeking all-around high safety. Head restraint testing ranked marginal, with moderate overlap front and side impact tests ranking high.
- Volkswagen Routan (model years 2009 to 2011). Typically selling for $8,600 used, the VW Routan minivan may not be the sexiest vehicle on the road but it’s certainly the safest you can get for the lowest cost. It scored at the top for moderate overlap front and side impact tests, and marginal for head restraints and seats.
Of course a used car will occasionally need to be serviced or repaired. The free Openbay web and mobile app is a great way to cross-shop for car repair nationwide (at home and at college!), and users may choose a mechanic based on proximity, customer ratings and reviews and price.
Are you in the market for a safe yet affordable used car? Are you terrified of the car your teen currently drives? What are some of the features that are most important to you when it comes to safety? And which do you consider the most important - safety features or affordability? Let us know what you think by sharing your thoughts in the comments box below.
Note: For more on the IIHS’s crash test ratings, including the definitions of their five main tests - moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints & seats - click here.
Image credit: Carissa Rogers, Flickr.com