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There are a lot of different kinds of SUVs you can buy for yourself and/or your teenager. Sometimes that might feel overwhelming, but there is a way to help sort out which SUVs are good ideas for your new drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Consumer Reports puts out an annual list of the safest vehicles for teen drivers. And while the IIHS and Consumer Reports notes that larger vehicles can be safer than smaller ones, there isn’t a single large SUV on their list. Why not?

The large SUV model 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 and Suburban High Country
2022 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 and Suburban High Country | Chevrolet

Larger vehicles may be safer than smaller ones

Size is important when it comes to automotive safety. Consumer Reports says, “A curb weight over 2,750 pounds because small, light vehicles don’t provide enough protection in multiple-vehicle crashes.” Yet it also notes that just because a vehicle is heavier, that doesn’t automatically make it safer for a teen driver.

So what keeps some larger SUVs from making the cut? Or, actually, all large SUV? It’s that large SUVs can be too difficult to handle, especially for an inexperienced driver. Consumer Reports notes, “many large SUVs don’t make the list as they can be hard to handle and often have long braking distances. Sports cars are also excluded as they can encourage dangerous driving.”

Midsize SUVs and a minivan are the largest vehicles on the list

If you want – or need – something a little bigger than average, you may be frustrated by the lack of larger vehicles on the IIHS and Consumer Reports list of the Best Vehicles for Teens. Yet just because a vehicle isn’t enormous doesn’t mean that you don’t have some slightly larger, more versatile SUVs – and a minivan – to choose from.

The 2022 Honda Odyssey is the only minivan to make the cut. In addition to the Odyssey, there are some midsize SUVs on the list. The 2022 Toyota Highlander, 2022 Mazda CX-9, 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe, 2022 Hyundai Palisade, and 2022 Nissan Murano are all safe SUVs for your teen driver.

The IIHS and Consumer Reports have strict standards for their recommendations


No Pickup Trucks Made the IIHS’ List of the Best Vehicles for Teens

In order to be one of the IIHS and Consumer Reports’ recommended vehicles, the SUV must be either a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+. To win a Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must get a good rating in all six crashworthiness categories. It also must have front-crash prevention systems with advanced or superior ratings. At least one headlight system out of all available has to be acceptable or good. To win the coveted Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must have good or acceptable headlights standard on every available trim level.

In addition, they must have average or better reliability, emergency handling scores, and be able to brake in less than 140 feet from 60 mph on dry pavement. Controls must get a rating of good or better, and they can’t have a super high insurance claim rate under medical payment or personal injury protection coverage.

If you’re in the market for one of the best SUVs for your teen driver, you must might want to skip the really large ones. Yet if you pay attention to the list put out by the IIHS and Consumer Reports, you can certainly find a great SUV that will meet your needs and be safe enough for your teenager.