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Safest Used Cars for Teens: IIHS Issues Top Picks

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an independent safety group, has released its top picks for the safest used cars for teens.

The group is known for its yearly Top Safety Pick list, ranking the safety of new cars. But after a phone survey revealed that 83 percent of parents who bought a car for their teen bought a used vehicle, the group decided to compile a list of the safest, most affordable used vehicles for teens.

Recommendations Follow 4 Principles

According to the group's report, the list of recommendations follow four general principles:

  • Young drivers should steer clear of high horsepower vehicles;
  • Bigger vehicles are generally safer than smaller vehicles;
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is a must-have feature; and
  • Teens' vehicles should have high safety ratings from both IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In general, the IIHS says parents should seek out midsize or larger cars, SUVs and minivans that offer ESC, side airbags, and low horsepower. The group also notes that SUV's not equipped with ESC are more prone to rollovers and may be more dangerous.

Top Picks Broken Into 2 Price Tiers

The IIHS's top picks were broken into two tiers: cars under $20,000 and cars under $10,000, based on 2014 Kelly Blue Book value. In each, the results were separated into separate categories for large cars, midsize cars, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, large SUVS (under $20,000 only), and minivans.

Here are the IIHS' Top 3 vehicles in each of those categories under $20,000:

  • Large cars: Saab 9-5 sedan (2010 and later), Lincoln MKS (2009 and later), Buick Regal (2011 and later).
  • Midsize cars: Toyota Prius (2012 and later), Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan (2009 and later), Honda Accord sedan (2012 and later).
  • Small SUVs: Honda CR-V (2012 and later), Kia Sportage (2011 and later), Hyundai Tucson (2010 and later).
  • Midsize SUVs: Volvo XC60 (2010 and later), Saab 9-4X (2011-12), Toyota Highlander (2008 and later).
  • Large SUVs: Buick Enclave (2011 and later), GMC Acadia (2011 and later), Chevrolet Traverse (2011 and later).
  • Minivans: Chrysler Town & Country (2012 and later), Honda Odyssey (2011 and later), Toyota Sienna (2011 and later).

And here are the IIHS' Top 3 vehicles in each category under $10,000:

  • Large cars: Acura RL (2005 and later), Mercury Sable (2009), Kia Amanti (2009).
  • Midsize cars: Subaru Legacy (2009), BMW 3-Series sedan (2006 and later), Mazda 6 (2009 and later).
  • Small SUVs: Nissan Rogue (2008 and later), Ford Escape (2009 and later), Mazda Tribute (2009 and later).
  • Midsize SUVs: Mazda CX-9 (2007 and later), Ford Edge (2007-2010), Hyundai Veracruz (2007 and later).
  • Minivans: Volkswagen Routan (2009-2011), Dodge Grand Caravan (2008-2011), Chrysler Town & Country (2008-2011).

The full list of the IIHS' safest used cars for teens can be seen at the IIHS website.

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