7 of the safest used cars for teen drivers

  • Alejandro Camacho Beomont/iStockphoto

    Parents buying cars for teenage drivers tend to focus on safety given that the fatal accident rate for teenagers is three times that for all other drivers. Now the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has come out with a recommended list of safest used cars for teens.

    More and more safety features have been required on car models over the last 10 years. As a result, "It's easier than ever to find a used vehicle with must-have safety features and decent crash test performance without spending a fortune," said Ann McCartt, the institute's senior vice president for research.

    A crucial example of a necessary safety feature is electronic stability control, which helps drivers maintain control on curves and slippery roads. It has been mandatory since 2012 and on some models going back to 2006. All IIHS recommendations include stability control.

    The IIHS recommended list of used cars are all under $20,000 for base models, with many choices under $10,000 and a few near $5,000. The average price paid for cars to be driven by teenagers is $9,800, according to an IIHS survey, and the median price just $5,300. "We would urge parents to consider paying a little more for safety if they can," said McCartt.

    The institute's list of "best choices" all had top scores in its front, side and rollover crash tests. A second list of less-expensive "good choices" have slightly lower, though still strong, ratings.

    In choosing a teen car, IIHS noted, bigger, heavier vehicles -- including SUVs and pickups are safer in crashes than smaller cars. And the institute counsels parents to avoid high-horsepower models as too tempting to young drivers.

    Here's a closer look at seven of the IIHS recommendations -- one good-value choice for each the categories the organization includes. While pictures and prices (Kelley Blue Book private party sales, for base models) are for the earliest recommended model year, the recommendation includes later model years as well.

    Click ahead to check out the list.

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    Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.