When your son or daughter starts driving, it’s a milestone moment. It can also be a little nerve wracking. You can’t be everywhere to keep them safe, but you can help them by choosing the right vehicle. In honor of Teen Driver Safety Week, we researched the best and safest cars for teens in 2023, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Consumer Reports.


What makes a good vehicle for teens?

You want a car with strong reliability ratings and excellent crash test scores. Today’s cars also have hi-tech safety features that can help keep young drivers safe. These include:

  • Blind spot monitoring to let you know if there is a vehicle in your blind spot.
  • Automatic emergency braking when the car senses a potential collision.
  • A lane departure warning that makes a sound or other signal if you veer toward the next lane.
  • A lane-keeping assist that steers your vehicle back into your lane.
  • Pedestrian detection that identifies people walking in front of the car.
  • Built-in systems with teen driver controls, such as speed warnings and muting of audio while driving.

You will want to avoid:

  • Sports cars, which have too much horsepower and could tempt a teen to drive beyond their skill level.
  • Small cars that weigh under 2,750 pounds; their crumple zones are not good.
  • Large vehicles with long braking distances.
  • Vehicles with seats for lots of passengers. Each additional passenger increases the odds of an accident due to distractions.


Following is the list of vehicles with above average reliability scores and good crash tests. Prices provided are from Kelley Blue Book and are estimates for the lowest trim models as of May 2023.


New Cars


Small Cars

Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback $23,000


Midsize Cars

Subaru Legacy $25,100
Subaru Outback $29,300


Small SUVs

Honda HR-V $24,400
Subaru Forester $27,700
Mazda CX-5 $27,800
Mazda CX-50 $28,900
Toyota RAV4 $29,300
Honda CR-V $29,700
Lexus UX $36,000


Midsize SUVs

Subaru Ascent $34,600
Hyundai Palisade $36,600
Toyota Highlander $37,100
Mazda CX-9 $38,300
Lexus NX $39,800



Honda Odyssey $38,100


Best Choices for Used Cars


Small Cars                                                                                                                       

Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback 2014-20; built after October 2013 $9,100
Ford C-Max Hybrid 2014-16 $10,000
Toyota Prius 2014; built after November 2013 $12,900
Subaru Impreza sedan or wagon 2018, 2022 $14,500


Midsize Cars

Subaru Legacy 2013-21; built after August 2012 $7,800
Mazda 6 2014-18 $10,200
Subaru Outback 2015-18, 2022 $12,200
Toyota Prius v 2015-17 $14,500
Volkswagen Passat 2017 $14,500
BMW 3 series 2017 or newer; built after November 2016 $16,500


Large Cars

Toyota Avalon 2015 or newer $14,600
Hyundai Genesis 2016 $18,000


Small SUVs

Volvo XC60 2013, 2017 $9,600
Mazda CX-5 2014 or newer; built after October 2013 $11,800
Mazda CX-3 2016, 2019 $13,900
Honda CR-V 2015 or newer $15,200
Honda HR-V 2017 or newer; built after March 2017 $16,000
Toyota RAV 4 2015 or newer; built after November 2014 $16,100
Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid 2018 $18,900
Subaru Forester 2018 or newer $20,000


Midsize SUVs

Nissan Murano 2015 or newer $12,400
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2018 $15,700
Toyota Highlander 2014 or newer $17.100
Acura RDX 2016 or newer $19,300



Toyota Sienna 2015-20 $15,700



Toyota Tacoma extended car or crew cab 2016 or newer $17,900


Remember, when looking at vehicles, talk to your insurance agent to see what will save you the most with your teen on your policy. And don’t forget to look out for recalls or damage from previous owners.


Finally, here are some other ways that you can help your teen stay safe.

  1. Sign them up for driver’s ed or safety classes.
  2. Make sure they get experience driving in all kinds of conditions.
  3. Teach them what to do in emergencies.
  4. Talk to them about how dangerous it is to drive while distracted.
  5. Make sure they are fully insured for peace of mind.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.


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