The discussion of what car to buy a new teenage driver is always touchy. Teens want something that looks cool and isn’t too slow, while parents want something affordable that won’t tempt dangerous driving behavior. But above all, parents hope to buy their teenager a car that is as safe as anything else on the road. Last month, Consumer Reports highlighted 8 of the safest cars for teens that wouldn’t break the bank. This week, the Wall Street Journal released its list of safest vehicles for teen drivers. Take a look, and share your teen driver stories in the comments or on our Facebook page.
The WSJ based its list on safety and reliability scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and non-profit product rater Consumer Reports. Essentially, the Journal limited its list to “reliable, four-cylinder cars that aren’t too big or too small, and are easily serviced,” and cost between $15,000 and $19,000. Honda, Subaru, and Acura each had multiple models among the highest echelons of teen driver safety. View the WSJ report for its methodology and full list of safe cars for teen drivers.
One aspect of the WSJ list that’s surprising is that, despite using information from Consumer Reports, it includes none of the vehicles on CR’s list of 8 safest cars for teen drivers. One of the reasons for this is that CR’s list adheres to the traditional dogma that SUVs are dangerous because they can be more prone to rollover accidents and instill a false sense of security in teen drivers. But as the IIHS notes, the new generation of SUVs may be safer. New data on SUV “stability control,” for example, has shown that the new technology decreases the risk of rollover accidents by 70 percent.
Another reason for the differing lists is that Consumer Reports put more of an emphasis on affordability, prefacing their list with the disclaimer “While many more expensive vehicles meet our criteria, we focused here on used car choices that are readily available for less than $12,000.” While the WSJ also limited its list to used cars, $12,000 is a pretty significant drop from $19,000 and even $15,000.
Clearly, each parent needs to decide for themselves what qualities are most important while choosing a car for their teen driver. But if you need some help and are most interested in safety (and I have no doubt that you are), check out the Consumer Reports list and Wall Street Journal list of safest cars for teenage drivers. And while you’re thinking about your new driver, download our Parent-Teen Safe Driving Contract to help set guidelines about appropriate driving behavior.
Photo credit: beardenb