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Looking for the safest car for your teen? It can be an overwhelming task, thanks to seemingly endless choices and unclear safety standards. Yet by using safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it’s a little easier to sort through all of the crash tests and determine which vehicle is best for your new driver. Choose an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ but make sure you pay attention to one new category: the updated side crash test.

A silver 2022 Toyota Highlander
2022 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

The IIHS and Consumer Reports release a list of the safest vehicles for teens

The IIHS and Consumer Reports put out a list of the best vehicles for teens. To determine which vehicles make the cut, the IIHS and Consumer Reports looks at those with good rating in the moderate overlap front, original side test, roof strength and also head restraint tests. They also must have a good or acceptable score in the driver-side small overlap front test. Those that have been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) must have at least four overall stars or a combination of at least four stars in the front and side tests under their old rating system. They also must have electronic stability control and a curb weight of 2,750 pounds or more.

In addition, SUVs must have better-than-average reliability ratings from Consumer Reports and emergency handling scores of at least 3. In addition, the vehicle must be able to stop from 60 mph on dry pavement in 145 or fewer feet. Finally, those that have “substantially higher than average claim frequency under medical payment or personal injury protection coverage” don’t make the cut.

There are a wide range of vehicles to choose from

The list made by the IIHS and Consumer Reports includes a good range of vehicle choices. There are the best new vehicles for teens, the best used vehicles, and good used vehicles. In addition, those choices are broken down further into vehicle type: small cars, midsize cars, large cars, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, and minivans.

Some of the best new SUVs include the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe, 2022 Hyundai Palisade, 2022 Nissan Murano, 2022 Mazda CX-9, and the 2022 Toyota Highlander.

Pay attention to the updated side crash test

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just updated its side crash test. It’s important to pay attention to these updated side crash tests because they’re not included in the IIHS Top Safety and Top Safety Pick+ awards yet.

The IIHS side crash testing has changed to simulate a collision at a higher speed: 37 mph vs the previous 31 mph. The barrier used in testing is also heavier, and more like vehicles on the road now, as heavier SUVs and trucks dominate. The barrier in the original test weighed 3,300 pounds, while the current barrier weights 4,200 pounds.

The best cars for kids may not always be what you think. While the IIHS list of the best vehicles for teens are definitely worth paying attention to, you may also want to pay attention to the updated side crash test results to get a full picture of the vehicle that you choose.


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