Safest Used Cars for Teen Drivers under $10K
Many families put a high priority on safety for their kids. Unfortunately, for various valid reasons, most are not able to go out and buy a brand new car with the latest safety features. Perhaps others are buying a car for a teen or college student and want something safe, but don’t want them wrecking a new car! Last year, the IIHS evaluated hundreds of cars to produce a list of models recommended for teens.
I have somewhat different criteria for my teen drivers. For example, while I also exclude the smallest sub-compact and “micro” vehicles, I have no issue with my teen driving a compact sedan if it is above 2,750 lbs., as long is it has great crash test results. While compact cars do give up a little in terms of weight in a frontal crash, they are generally more maneuverable and easier to handle and park. That’s a big deal for new drivers. And of course, compact cars are less expensive to buy and maintain. I am also more concerned about having top results in all the actual crash tests, including the new IIHS small overlap test, and less concerned about certain other results.
Unfortunately, the IIHS excludes compact sedans from their list, even top performing models with many safety features and decent all-around crash test scores, including their own small overlap test. In fact, some models they recommend do very poorly in this newer crash test. Also, many of their recommendations are well over $10,000.
- 4-star or better NHTSA overall rating
- No “2-star” or “1-star” ratings in any individual NHTSA crash test or rollover rating.
- No “Marginal” or “Poor” IIHS crash test results in ANY test, including the newer small overlap test
- Around $10,000 or less to buy.
- Good visibility and handling.
- Stability control and side-curtain airbags.
- No minicars, sub-compacts or any model below 2,750lbs. Weight is a bad thing on roads, I know. More mass means more kinetic energy and more wasted fuel. But when the other guy is driving a 5,000 lb. truck, the smallest cars become splatter.