Skip to main content

Having a teen driver can be a nerve-wracking experience. Teenagers are often eager to explore their freedom and the world, yet they are also at higher risk for accidents – especially serious ones. Their inexperience means that their reaction to dangerous situations isn’t as developed as older drivers, which makes it even more important that they’re in a safe vehicle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests vehicles and conducts research on driving and safety. It releases a list of the safest vehicles for teenagers every year. The most recent list is full of good new and used vehicles for teenagers – but none of them are pickup trucks.

Consumer Reports found a satisfying new pickup truck
The 2022 Ford F-350 truck in blue | Ford

Are trucks good for teenagers?

The IIHS doesn’t have a single pickup truck on its list of the safest vehicles for teens. It also doesn’t include any mini or small cars, due to their small stature and increased risk of serious injury. So what keeps trucks from being a good choice for teens? Part of it has to do with their safety scores.

The IIHS releases three lists of vehicles: Best Used, Good Used, and New. The Best Used list includes vehicles with good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front, original side, and roof strength and head restraint tests. They also must have a good or acceptable rating in the small overlap test on the driver side.

The safest vehicles also include ratings from the NHTSA and Consumer Reports

The list also includes vehicles tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and those vehicles must have “4 or 5 stars overall or 4 or 5 stars in the front and side tests under the old rating scheme.” In addition, vehicles have to have electronic stability control as well as a curb weight of at least 2,750 pounds.

Consumer Reports also weighs in on the safest vehicles for teenagers, and none of them are pickup trucks. All of the recommended vehicles must have a 3 or higher for emergency handling. They also have to be able to brake from 60 mph in 145 or less on dry pavement. In addition, their reliability ratings must be better-than-average. Finally, any vehicle with a “higher than average claim frequency under medical payment or personal injury protection coverage” aren’t on the list.

The biggest recommended vehicles are midsize SUVs and minivans

There aren’t any pickup trucks or large SUVs on the list of the safest vehicles for teenagers. Instead, midsize SUVs and minivans are the largest vehicles deemed safe enough for these inexperienced drivers. Some of the best used midsize SUVs include the 2017 and newer Mazda CX-9, 2017-2019 Hyundai Santa Fes, and 2017 and 2019 GMC Terrains. Similarly, 2017 and 2019 Chevy Equinox’s are on the list, as are luxury SUVs like the 2015, 2016, and 2018 and newer Lexus NX as well as the 2016-2019 Audi Q5. There is also a list of new vehicles if you want something brand new.

If you’re looking for the safest vehicle for your teen, skip the pickup trucks. Teenagers are more inexperienced and have an increased risk of a serious or fatal accident. Using the IIHS list of the safest vehicles for teenagers will help you give your kids the best chance at having a safe driving experience as they learn how to deal with the unexpected on the road.


The Seriously Scary Hidden Threat of Trucks, SUV, and Vans to Kids