Congratulations, your teen is enrolled in driver’s education and soon will be able to drive. Your days of driving the “mom taxi” or “dad taxi” soon will be over!

But wait…you’re probably going to need a car for your son or daughter to drive. If you’re like most parents, this “new” vehicle must meet three criteria:

  • It’s safe
  • It’s not an antique
  • It’s not expensive

What are your best options? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety anticipated your needs and has published a list of possibilities.

The IIHS is an independent, nonprofit organization. Its goal is to reduce the number of deaths, injuries and property damage from motor vehicle accidents. The IIHS is supported by insurance companies and insurance trade organizations.

Four safety recommendations

Before we get to the list, the IIHS has four general safety recommendations for teen-driven vehicles:

  • Stay away from high horsepower
  • Bigger, heavier vehicles are better
  • Electronic stability control is a “must.” IIHS says this safety feature is equivalent to use of seat belts in importance.
  • The best-possible safety ratings

Recommended vehicles

Let’s look at the IIHS recommendations that meet our criteria. The vehicles below are priced at less than $10,000 and received the IIHS “best” distinction.

Midsize Sedan
Volkswagen Passat (2013 and newer)
Volvo S60 (2011 and newer)
Ford Fusion (2013 and newer)
Subaru Legacy (2013 and newer)
Honda Accord coupe (2013 and newer)
Volkswagen Jetta (2013 and newer)
Mazda 6 (2013 and newer)
Honda Accord sedan (2013 and newer)

Large Sedan
Ford Taurus (2013 and newer)

Small SUV
Mazda CX-5 ($10,700) (2014 and newer)

Midsize SUV
Chevrolet Equinox ($11,700) (2014 and newer)

The “beater” category

What if you want to be as frugal as possible, yet still get a vehicle that you can feel good about your child driving? Below is a list of choices the IIHS recommends, priced at $5,000 or less.

Midsize sedan
Volkswagen Jetta (2009-2014)
Volkswagen Passat (2009-2012)
Volkswagen CC (2009-newer)
Chevrolet Malibu (2010 and newer)
Subaru Legacy (2010-2012)

Small SUV
Honda Element (2007-2011)

Midsize SUV
Subaru Tribeca (2006-2014)
Dodge Journey (2010 and newer)