Safest Cars for Teens—2010 List
It’s that highly worrisome time in your life, when your child turns 16 and is ready to get their much-anticipated provisional driver’s license. So, do you hand over the keys to your own car and hope it’s returned in one piece? Or, do you invest in a car of their own? And, how do you decide which car to buy, when your teen wants a sports car or a hulking SUV, and you want a car you know they’ll be safe in? AAA advises against purchasing a sports car for your new driver, as it’s often too tempting to drive aggressively in a sporty car, not to mention the increased auto insurance fees. SUV’s are also advised against as they are more difficult to handle, and are more prone to rollover in an extreme situation.
One of the most common questions received by AAA is “What is the safest car to get my new teen driver?” Our usual answer is a “midsized car with a four-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, ABS, and high crash test scores.” The logic is that a midsized car is big enough to protect occupants in a crash, but small enough for a novice driver to easily handle. The four-cylinder engine limits the acceleration capabilities of the car, and generally provides better fuel economy (and thus improves the car’s “carbon footprint”.) Automatic transmissions are easier to drive and allow novice drivers to focus on steering, throttle control, and braking. ABS also makes braking easier, especially for a novice driver.
The Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center developed a list of 2010 cars (see below) that meet the above-mentioned criteria. The crash test scores are taken from the AAA/NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) publication, “Buying a Safer Car-2010” from NHTSA’s website . Issues from previous model years are also available on NHTSA’s website for comparing used cars. We selected vehicles that scored the maximum five stars for frontal collisions and front side impacts, and had at least four stars for rear side impact. All cars also scored at least four stars in the rollover evaluation. Please note: cars that were not tested for the 2010 NHTSA Buying a Safer Car brochure were not included in this analysis.
Once you look at the recommended list, you may find that the cars are not necessarily vehicles your teen wants to own. But, remember to remind your teen that they are getting a car, and the freedom that comes with it.
Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) are provided and include standard or optional traction and stability control since we recommend that cars for teen drivers should have these systems. Prices do not include optional all-wheel-drive (standard on Subaru models). AWD (if available) is desirable to improve traction in poor weather. If you live in a state with extreme weather, you may want to include AWD in your teen’s car. Lastly, try to stay away from too many optional electronic gadgets in the car, as teens can be easily distracted, and need to focus on the task at hand—driving.
5 stars on all crash tests (at least 4 stars on rollover); 4-cylinder automatic:
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5 stars on all tests except 4 stars for rear occupant side impact (at least 4 stars on rollover); 4-cylinder automatic:
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||Altima 4 door