No one wants to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on their inexperienced and possibly impulsive teen driver, but you want them to be safe for the exact same reason you don’t want to break the bank. This is where a new study can help! Consumers Reports and the IIHS teamed up to create a list of safe and affordable used cars for teenagers.

Should You or Your Teen Upgrade?

When Your Teen Wants a Car: Safe Car OptionsWhen you’re considering the right car for your teenager, you’ve also got to make the decision of whether or not you get to upgrade your current ride. While many teens get their own vehicle when they get their license, many parents see this as an opportunity to get another car for themselves and pass their old one down.

Whether you’re on the prowl for a new vehicle for yourself or your teen, you should consider safe, cost-effective models. Recently, the IIHS and Consumer Reports combined forces and made a list of just these cars that parents can look at for their teen drivers.

While the list is intended for new drivers, it’s also a great resource for anybody who wants a safe vehicle without the big price tag, or those looking for an affordable car when their credit isn’t the best.

Safest Cars for Teens

We’ve narrowed down the list of safe vehicles for teenagers to some of our favorites in the segments of: small cars, midsize/large cars, and minivans. All of the vehicles we picked are also under $15,000.

Small Cars

  • 2014 Mazda Mazda3 – $7,000
  • 2014 Subaru Impreza – $8,700
  • 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT – $14,000
  • 2019 Kia Forte – $14,600

Midsize/Large Cars

  • 2013 Subaru Legacy – $7,600
  • 2013 Honda Accord – $9,200
  • 2015 Mazda Mazda6 – $10,500
  • 2015-2017 Toyota Prius v – $12,600


  • 2015 Toyota Sienna – $11,900
  • 2015-2016 Honda Odyssey – $12,400
  • 2016-2017 Kia Sedona – $12,600

Methodology of the Safe Car List

The list considers selling prices based on Kelley Blue Book valuations for the lowest trim level of vehicles in good condition that were sold in a private sale, so the prices you may find are likely to vary.

Cars listed in the study are measured by many factors including overall safety, reliability, weight, and crash test rates. However, the vehicles listed don’t have excessive horsepower since teenagers may be more likely to “test out” the power.

IIHS and Consumer Reports ranked 65 cars in total, separated by vehicle segment in two categories: best and good. All of the cars on the list are also under $20,000. Models vary, but Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, and Ford didn't have the stuff to make the final cut.

While this latest study suggests vehicles to consider purchasing for your teen, you could also take a look and see if your current car ranked on the list. This could help you make the decision to buy a safe vehicle for your teen, or pass down your current car and get yourself another one.

Finding a Dealership for You

We chose these vehicles out of the 65 that we felt were best suited for teens, and borrowers on a budget. While going through options is a great place to start car shopping, if your credit is worse for wear, looking at vehicles doesn’t do much good if you can’t get approved for financing. Borrowers with bad credit scores can find it difficult to get ahold of a lender that has the resources to work with poor credit. We want to help with that!

Here at Auto Credit Express, we’ve been matching bad credit borrowers to dealerships with bad credit lending options for over 20 years. We’ll look for a dealer in your area after you complete our free auto loan request form. There’s no obligation, it’s secure, and we’ll get to work right away.