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The Safest Cars For New Drivers

7 minute read

By Imogen Sharma

If your teenager is learning to drive, there’s a good chance you’re worried about safety. Insurance premiums for young drivers are higher than any other age group for good reasons. Driving accidents are the second-leading cause of death for teens in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately seven teens a day lost their lives on the road in 2019.

The vehicle a new driver operates can play a vital role in preventing serious harm. In this article, you’ll discover what makes a car safe and learn about the safest cars in each category.

What Makes a Vehicle Safe?

There are a range of factors that contribute to an automobile’s safety rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) compiles a list of safe vehicles every year, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts research to promote motor vehicle safety, awarding cars a rating out of five stars. The following components are taken into consideration:


1. The Safest Used Small Car: Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius 2014 has a safety rating of five stars and an average used price of $13,590 according to Kelley Blue Book (KBB). All trims come with seven airbags and Toyota’s Safety Sense System. This includes cruise control to help drivers maintain a safe distance from the car in front and a lane departure warning to alert drivers when their vehicle is straying out of its lane.

The car also comes equipped with a pre-collision brake assist system that helps new drivers stop in case of an emergency. If you’re looking for a safe, affordable car, a used Prius is a great option.

Source: Toyota

2. The Safest Used Midsize Car: Volkswagen Jetta

If you opt for a used 2017 Volkswagen Jetta, KBB suggests you can expect to pay around $14,907. Plus, with an overall safety rating of five stars and an award from the IIHS as a Top Safety Pick Plus, it’s a perfect choice for new drivers.

There’s a rear view camera to make parking and reversing easier, plus blind zone monitoring to catch anything you can’t see in your mirrors. Automatic crash notifications and forward collision warnings help drivers avoid incidents. Additionally, geo-fencing and remote vehicle access are great tools for parents looking to keep teens safe.

Source: Volkswagen

3. The Safest Used Large Car: Ford Taurus

With zero recalls and investigations, the 2019 Ford Taurus gets five stars from the NHTSA and costs around $20,716, according to KBB. A 2013 Taurus is significantly cheaper at $9,226 and achieves the same government safety rating.

The extra cost for the 2019 delivers an array of modern safety features. Parking can be particularly troublesome for new drivers. With active park assist, the Taurus directs parking, while the driver handles acceleration, shifting and braking. The forward collision with brake support system warns you in case of a potential collision and precharges the brakes to increase their responsiveness.

Source: Ford

4. The Safest Used Small SUV: Buick Encore

The safest option for someone looking to buy a small SUV is the 2018 Buick Encore, with a five out of five safety rating. It costs around $19,665, according to KBB, although the 2013 model also gets five stars and costs approximately half.

As you might expect, the 2018 Encore comes with enhanced safety features. Side blind zone alerts detect vehicles that come into your blind zone using radar technology. Rear cross traffic alerts let you know when cars approach while you’re reversing out of a parking spot, and a forward collision alert helps you avoid head-on crashes.

Source: Buick

5. The Safest Used Midsize SUV: Audi Q5

The 2018 Audi Q5 is one of the safest midsize SUVs out there, with five stars from the NHTSA. The KBB places its price at around $35,774. While it’s one of the priciest used cars, it’s a worthwhile investment for safety.

Anti-lock brakes make it easier to turn while braking, while stability control senses when something is off with handling and either applies the brakes or reduces engine power. Both of these functions make it easier for the driver to remain in control of the vehicle. There are front-impact, side-impact and overhead airbags for protection in case of a crash.

Source: Audi

6. The Safest Used Minivan: Kia Sedona

If you’re looking for a large and affordable vehicle for a new driver, the 2016 Kia Sedona is a great option. With tons of safety features and an approximate used cost of $16,367, it’s perfect for a new driver of any age. It received five out of five stars from the government in addition to the prestigious IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating.

Its traction control system enhances electronic stability controls, keeping the tires steady on the road. Roll over mitigation helps stop the vehicle rolling over, while cornering brake control assists drivers in making steady turns. The Sedona has since been discontinued by Kia.

Source: Kia

7. The Safest New Small Car: Honda Civic

If you’re looking for a safe new small car with a trendy reputation, the 2022 Honda Civic is ideal. The sedan’s starting price is $22,350, and while the newest model isn’t rated yet, the 2021 Civic scores five stars across all NHTSA categories.

Both the 2021 and the 2022 Honda Civic come with safety features and driver assist tools standard. Front automatic braking helps you avoid head-on crashes, while adaptive cruise controls keep you at a safe distance from the car in front. One clear safety improvement from the previous year is a new airbag design and additional airbags.

Source: Honda

8. The Safest New Midsize Car: Subaru Outback

With a suggested MSRP of $26,945, the 2022 Subaru Outback is an affordably priced midsize car with an excellent safety record. It scores five out of five stars from the NHTSA, which has been consistent since 2013.

The only difference between the 2021 and 2022 Outback is the Wilderness trim. The new model also has higher ground clearance than any other model. Safety features include driver assist technology, which monitors traffic around the vehicle, and automatic pre-collision braking to enhance responsiveness in case of an emergency stop. Lane centering helps drivers stay in-lane.

Source: Subaru

9. The Safest New Small SUV: Chevrolet Equinox

Prices for the 2022 Chevrolet Equinox begin at $25,800, and it’s one of the most reliable and safe small SUVs, making it perfect for first-time drivers. Safety is a priority for the 2022 model, with some significant advancements from the previous year.

Front and rear parking assists are standard with the new model, decreasing the likelihood of a collision while parking. Plus, you can use the automatic parking assist system, where the vehicle takes control of steering while you handle the pedals and transmission. Blind spot and cross traffic alerts detect oncoming cars with the 2022 Equinox.

Source: Chevrolet

10. The Safest New Midsize SUV: Mazda CX-9

Costing less than the previous year, the 2022 Mazda CX-9 boasts a starting price of $35,280. The NHTSA has given the midsize SUV a five-star rating for every model since 2018, making it one of the safest cars in its category.

With the 2022 CX-9, all-wheel drive comes standard for the first time, which enhances safety for inclement weather. As with the 2021 model, the car’s safety tech is extensive, with practically every feature you could want, including five airbags, brake assist to help new drivers stop in case of an emergency and traction control to hold the car steady.

Source: Mazda

11. The Safest New Minivan: Honda Odyssey

The 2022 Honda Odyssey’s starting price is $33,040. The NHTSA awards it a full five out of five stars for safety, making it the safest new minivan out there. There aren’t many differences between the 2021 and 2022 models, but Honda has added a new color option and some additional tech features, such as an improved infotainment system.

Both the 2021 and 2022 models have advanced front airbags, front side airbags with ventilation technology and side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor. Even the Odyssey’s body is engineered for safety, with a design that distributes energy and directs impact away from the passenger compartment.

Source: Honda

Imogen Sharma


Imogen Sharma is a culture, science, tech and business expert with a passion for exploration and sharing her discoveries with others. She aims to help people improve their lives in some way, whether it's starting a business, learning new skills or getting more out of their free time.



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