The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released a list of recommended used cars that are affordable even for those consumers with less than perfect credit

Used cars and problem credit

Creating a Successful Budget

Here at Auto Credit Express we realize that, once their application is approved, most car buyers with bad credit will end up financing a used car. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because, taken as a whole, today's vehicles are built better and will last longer than ever before.

Because high-risk car loans come with higher than average interest rates, we also recommend that buyers with low credit scores consider an affordable compact or midsize sedan. We also believe anyone considering a used car should first order a vehicle history (with a report from a company such as Carfax) then, if it's clean, have the vehicle inspected by both an ASE certified master mechanic as well as a body and frame specialist.

But the "to-do" list shouldn't end there, and we were reminded of this earlier today in a press release from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

IIHS Used Vehicles for Teens

The IIHS, which rates new vehicles for crashworthiness, noted that "Many teenagers are driving vehicles that don't offer good crash protection and lack important safety technology."

In a national phone survey of parents that it conducted, the IIHS found that 83 percent of vehicles purchased for teen drivers were used, also pointing out that "for many families, a 2014 Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ isn't in the budget."

With that reality in mind, the Institute has compiled a list of affordable used vehicles that meet important safety criteria for teen drivers (see below). There are two tiers of recommended vehicles with options at various price points, ranging from less than $5,000 to nearly $20,000, so parents can buy the most safety for their money, whatever their budget.

List of Safe Used Cars

Since most people with bad credit buying cars are looking in the same price range, here at Auto Credit Express we thought this would be an ideal list for these buyers as well as the teenage drivers in their households.

We had to slice and dice things a bit (some of the vehicles turned out to be too pricey for their age), but the list follows the rules the IIHS set up including:

  • Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower. Vehicles with more powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits.
  • Bigger, heavier vehicles protect better in a crash. There are no minicars or small cars on the recommended list. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.
  • ESC is a must. This feature, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads, reduces risk on a level comparable to safety belts.
  • Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible. At a minimum, that means good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test, acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Best Choices

Recommended used vehicles for teens starting under $20,000 (good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. If rated by NHTSA, they earn 4 or 5 stars overall or 4 or 5 stars in the front and side tests under the old rating scheme. All come with standard ESC.)

Prices, rounded to the nearest $100, were taken from Kelley Blue Book on July 1, 2014, for the lowest trim level and earliest applicable model year based on the following criteria: vehicle in good condition, typical mileage and private party purchase in Arlington, Va.

Midsize Cars, Model Years, Price

Honda Accord sedan, 2012 and later; coupe, 2013-14, $14,400
Toyota Camry, 2012 and later, $14,300
Buick Verano, 2012 and later, $14,100
Kia Optima, 2011 and later, $13,300
Hyundai Sonata, 2011 and later, $12,100
Subaru Legacy, 2010 and later, $11,900
Dodge Avenger, 2011 and later, $11,600
Chevrolet Malibu, 2010 and later; built after November 2009, $10,900
Chrysler 200 sedan, 2011 and later, $10,700
Mercury Milan, 2010-11; built after April 2010, $10,700
Ford Fusion, 2010 and later; built after April 2010, $10,200
Volkswagen Passat, 2009 and later, $10,000
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, 2009 and later, $9,400
Volkswagen Jetta, 2009 and later, $8,200

Small SUVs, Model Years, Price

Kia Sportage, 2011 and later, $13,800
Hyundai Tucson, 2010 and later, $13,100
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, 2011 and later, $12,000
Volkswagen Tiguan, 2009 and later, $10,200

For a complete listing of all vehicles including a separate list for "Good Choices", follow this link.

The Bottom Line

Even if you don't have a teenager, it pays to buy the safest car you can afford – whether your credit is great or less than perfect. Tin this instance, the new report from the IIHS can go a long way to steering you towards the right vehicle.

One more tip: Auto Credit Express helps applicants with car credit challenges find those dealers for their best opportunities for auto loan approvals.

So if you're ready to take the next step, you can begin by filling out our online car loan application.