Updated list of new, used cars for teens puts safety first

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports is out with an updated list of new and used cars recommend for teenagers.

“This is a really good starting list for any parent who is considering purchasing a vehicle for their teen, or purchasing a vehicle for their family, thinking about handing a vehicle down to a teen in future years,” said IIHS President David Harkey.

The sedans, SUVs and minivans chosen for the list were selected for safety first and their affordability and reliability.

Deliberately left off the list are sports cars, vehicles with a lot of horsepower, and large SUVs like the Chevy Suburban or Ford Expedition.

“We want to make sure that what is on this list are not going to be vehicles that either tempt a teen to perhaps speed or get themselves into unsafe situations or are hard to handle and learn to drive,” Harkey said.

The list includes over 60 used vehicles ranging in price from $6,400 to $19,800 and nearly 30 new cars with a price tag between $19,900 and $39,500.

“If you’re looking for a used vehicle, you can find a small sedan — something like a Toyota Prius, for example — that may be in that $6,000-$8,000 range. If you’re looking for a mid-size SUV, there are vehicles out there like a Ford Edge or a Kia Sorento that you’re going to pay more in the $15,000-$20,000 range, which is the upper limit for our used vehicles,” said Harkey.

As for new vehicles, only those that offer automatic emergency braking as standard equipment are included on the list. In some cases, the list suggests upgrades, such as adding better headlights than sticking with those that come standard with the car.

“A Toyota RAV4 which is very popular … may run as much as $37,000, but at the same time you can find a small car like a Honda Civic that will be below $30,000,” Harkey said.

Demand for used cars spiked during the pandemic. Earlier this month, Kelley Blue Book said used car prices were up 18% compared to the same time last year.

“We know it may take a little time to find something, given where prices and inventory currently are,” said Harkey. “The real key is to buy as much safety as you can afford. It’s an investment that will pay you back many times over.”

The whole list can be found on the Consumer Reports’ website.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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