One safety feature that we insist on, cost notwithstanding, is electronic stability control.
Though it hasn't been around that long, limiting its availability on older vehicles, studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that ESC could be the most important safety feature since the safety belt, saving as many as 10,000 lives per year if all vehicles were so equipped.
Our advice: Buy your teen driver the safest, most reliable, and newest vehicle you can.
Remember, the $10,000 necessary to buy a good used vehicle with ESC, curtain air bags, and other safety gear that might save your kid's life isn't cheap. But it's cheaper than even one day in a hospital.
Here are the top car picks for teens:
|2000-2003 BMW 323i/325i||$6,600-$9,450|
|2000-2003 BMW 528i/525i||$6,100-$8,400|
|2006 Hyundai Sonata||$8,450-$10,000|
|2007 Kia Rondo (5-pass. version)||$10,000|
|2002 Lexus ES 300||$9,600|
|2005 Saab 9-3 Linear||$9,150|
|2008 Saturn Aura XE||$12,825|
The cars listed below take some more careful shopping, as ESC was optional. In the case of the Camry and Optima, it often required a higher trim level. Curtain air bags were also optional in the Camry in some years.
|2002-2004 Toyota Camry||$8,250-$10,900|
|2006-2007 Kia Optima EX||$7,500-$9,850|
|2007 Volkswagen Rabbit||$12,000|