IIHS and Consumer Reports Release Recommended Used Vehicles for Teen Drivers

by Gwen Newell

IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) and Consumer Reports have teamed up to release a list of recommended used vehicles for teen drivers that combines IIHS’s safety testing expertise with CR’s evaluations of vehicle reliability, handling and braking capabilities.

This is the first time IIHS and Consumer Reports have partnered to produce a joint list that provides guidance for parents so they do not have to consult multiple sources to find vehicles for their teen drivers that are used and affordable. This also makes it easier for young drivers or their parents to also find something that checks the boxes for safety, performance and reliability.

There are no sports cars or other vehicles with excessive horsepower on the list, as these types of vehicles can tempt teen drivers to test their limits. The list is divided into Good Choices and Best Choices, which offer a slightly higher level of safety. Both Good Choices and Best Choices have the following:

  • Standard ESC
  • Above-average reliability, based on CR’s member survey, for the majority of the years listed
  • Average or better scores from CR’s emergency handling tests
  • Dry braking distances of less than 145 feet from 60 mph in CR’s brake tests
  • Good ratings in four IIHS crashworthiness tests – moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints
  • Four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – if rated

The list of 65 recommended used vehicles ranging from $5,300 to $19,600 shows that safety can be both affordable and practical – and although it is intended specifically for teen drivers, it can also be a resource for anyone looking for a safe, reliable and affordable used car. Additionally, it is important to note that before buying a specific used vehicle, consumers should check for outstanding recalls and have the vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic.

CR evaluates cars based on their performance, safety and how well they hold up over time. The annual list of vehicles that are best suited for new or young drivers focuses on attributes most critical for less-experienced drivers.

IIHS is best known for crash tests of new vehicles and the annual Top Safety Pick awards. The Institute began issuing used vehicle recommendations in 2014 after IIHS researchers found that teenagers were likely to drive very old or very small vehicles.

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