What are the safest and most reliable used cars for teens?
The receipt of a car is a major transition point for most teenagers as they begin to enter into adult life. That said, vehicles driven by inexperienced drivers can be dangerous and sometimes even lethal to the driver, passengers or possibly outside parties. As a result, parents have a natural and practical interest in making sure their kids are driving in the safest car possible.
And let’s not forget the car insurance. Once the car is chosen, good insurance rates can be found by entering a zip code, car type, driver’s age, and some other basic criteria on a number of car insurance comparison websites. The information can valuable in finding a good insurance policy quickly.
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Obviously a fast car is a bad idea for most teens. They still have yet to learn the full need for safety and respect for the road. Giving a teenager a V8 muscle car is just asking for accidents, tickets, or worse. On the other hand, many parents don’t want their kids in an egg on wheels that could be smushed in an instant by a larger vehicle from behind.
So ideally a large car that provides surrounding protection from impact, with an engine that can at least pull out of trouble is a potentially good general standard. What cars fit this bill depends as some models are more or less consistent. However, the goal is to make sure the teenager has some built-in protection beyond his own driving skill but is not operating a runaway rocket.
Added safety features are a plus. Where a car has more than just the basic front air bag, it provides better protection from accident impact with another vehicle or hard object. Such features can make the difference between bruises and being sent to a trauma center.
Stability control is also another safety feature to look for. Inexperienced drivers will not necessarily know immediately how to come out of skid or a bad turn. Cars with stability control systems compensate for these problems automatically, protecting the driver from his own mistakes in some cases.
The Standard Pickup Truck
The standard full-size pickup truck works well for a teenager. First, a regular cabin vehicle doesn’t provide much room for a bunch of teenagers to pile into like a four-door sedan. This cuts down on the potential party atmosphere. Second, trucks tend to be built for more abuse than normal, which works well with a beginner driver learning how to manage a car. Third, fullsize trucks have a lot of size around them which adds to the safety protection for the driver, which is a good thing with a teenager at the wheel.
Unfortunately, size does not bode well for other drivers in an accident, but if a parent has to choose he will likely want his own child protected more than an unknown driver. Pickups trucks also don’t speed up very well, which keeps that speed-demon kid on a mechanical leash versus some of his friends in zippy compacts. Finally, trucks tend to have far better insurance rates than smaller, faster cars.
The Mazda 3
For compact vehicles the Mazda 3 stands out in terms of multiple ratings. On the safety level it includes the stability, air bags, great impact crash ratings, and a top-notch braking system. The car comes with good handling control and steering response. Additionally, due to the design, the car has a very quick input engine that performs but saves money on gas prices. Rated in the top five cars for compacts in a number of consumer reviews for the last few years, the Mazda 3 is also highly affordable. Pricing ranges from $13,000 to $19,100.
The Honda Accord EX
Another small car standout is the Honda Accord EX model. The 2010 version scored very well among auto critics and continues to win acclaim as a well-built sedan. Like most Hondas, the Accord EX comes with the requisite agility and performance as well as a very good crash test safety record. Additionally, stability control comes standard in all Hondas, regardless of make or model. For beginning drivers the car works very well in terms of the interior control markings. Everything is well-lit, marked with large symbols, and easy to find. New drivers have no worries understanding the adapting to the management of the dashboard and controls. The Honda EX prices out a few thousand dollars more than the Mazda 3, ringing in close to $22,800.
Toyota produces the Scion which was specifically designed and targeted to the teenager driver market. That said, while it is very affordable ringing in at $16,300 to $18,300 depending on the model, the Scion is a small compact on wheels. The car gets great gas mileage, which makes a teenager’s budget go farther, but the Scion is truly car that can get squashed in an accident. It still makes the list because the price is right, Toyota makes quality vehicles, and it comes with a lot of safety features beyond just the driver air bag.
However, if parents want a bit more size, they may want to look instead at the Toyota Corolla. As a very affordable car pricing as little as $14,000 in some cases, the Corolla provides a bit more body around the driver. These cars are hard to kill off, and many a used Corolla has lived as a teenager’s first car.
Whatever car is chosen, parents should focus on safety. Going to cheap can be as much as a risk as a muscle car. And when the car is picked, it should be matched by a good insurance policy. With just a ZIP code and some basic driver information a parent can search a car insurance comparison website to find a matching insurance coverage plan for their child, matching a good recovery plan to a safe teenager’s car.