Ranks the Best Cars for Teens

Share Article’s "Best Cars for Teens” list finds the safest, most fuel-efficient and cheapest-to-insure used cars.

It’s not the extra car that drives up your auto insurance rates. It's the kid.

Any parent with a teenager about to begin driving wonders how to balance safety and cost.’s “Best Cars for Teens” list takes away some of the guesswork.

“The good news is that a newer car with the right safety gear doesn’t cost much more to insure than an old car,” said managing editor Des Toups. “The bad news is that your teen will be expensive to insure no matter what he or she ends up driving.”

A newer car with crucial safety features such as electronic stability control (ESC) comes at a relatively small cost, at least as far as insurance goes, Toups said. The additional insurance cost of buying a car from the “Best Cars for Teens” list, compared with simply letting the teenager drive an existing family car, is less than $400 a year for the top-ranked models.

“It’s not the extra car that drives up your rates,” Toups said. “It’s the kid.” used the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Picks for 2008 as a starting point, then whittled down the list of 4-year-old vehicles by looking at current purchase prices, fuel economy and reliability. Each of the models shown sells for less than $15,000, according to; gets more than 20 mpg, according to; and has a better-than-average repair record, according to Any one of them would be a safe choice, Toups said.

Of the 20 models that made the “Best Cars for Teens” list, the cheapest to insure is the 2008 Audi A3. Over five years, buying an A3 rather than the most expensive-to-insure model on the list, the Subaru Impreza, would save a parent $2,400 in insurance costs, Toups said. The complete list is below.

The analysis also compared a family’s options when a young driver hits the road.

Parents should expect their rates to double, at minimum, Toups said, even if they don’t buy an extra car for their new driver. If the family lives in a high-cost state and a teenage male is added to the policy, premiums could triple.’s comparison of rates for a sample Washington state family reveals how insurance costs can increase exponentially. The examples below are for a married couple driving a 2011 Honda Accord and a 2009 Chevrolet Traverse; with good credit and no car accidents or traffic violations; carrying policy limits of $100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident; and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. That couple would be in for quite a shock when their teenage son earns his driver’s license. Here’s an example of how their rates might change:

  •     Annual premium for married couple only: $1,536
  •     Adding new teen driver, no additional car: $4,406
  •     Adding new teen driver and car with liability coverage only: $4,376
  •     Teen driver excluded on parents’ policy; car for teen insured with liability on a separate policy: $6,192
  •     Married couple with new teen driver, adding 4-year-old car with liability, comprehensive and collision coverage identical to existing cars: $4,798 and up, depending on the model chosen.

Models are ranked by the vehicle’s impact on’s hypothetical family’s insurance bill over five years -- until their 16-year-old turns 21.

The best cars for teens, with five-year insurance impact (all 2008 models unless otherwise noted), are:

1. Audi A3: $1,960
2. Honda Accord (four-door models): $2,040
3. Mercury Sable (with ESC): $2,610
4. Ford Taurus (with ESC): $2,670
5. Subaru Forester (with ESC): $2,750
6. Mercury Milan (2009 models with ESC): $2,790
7. Scion xB: $2,790
8. Nissan Rogue: $2,900
9. Honda Civic (2009 four-door models with ESC): $2,970
10. Ford Fusion (2009 models with ESC): $2,980
11. Hyundai Santa Fe: $3,050
12. Saturn VUE (built after 12/07): $3,180
13. Saab 9-3: $3,350
14. Volkswagen Jetta (2009 models): $3,480
15. Subaru Forester (2009 models): $3,600
16. Volkswagen Rabbit (2009 four-door models): $3,630
17. Mitsubishi Lancer (2009 models with ESC): $3,980
18. Ford Escape (2009 models): $4,120
19. Subaru Legacy (with ESC): $4,320
20. Subaru Impreza (with ESC): $4,360

Read the full article at

Methodology began with a list of 65 cars designated as 2008 Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Pricing data were drawn from’s True Market Value tool. Fuel economy numbers are real-world reported numbers from community members of Reliability numbers are real-world numbers of repair visits per 100 models reported by community members of

Insurance costs for the Washington state family were based on a married couple driving a 2011 Honda Accord and a 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, with clean driving records and good credit, commuting 15 miles and 10 miles each way daily, respectively. Policy limits were 100/300/50 -- $100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident -- and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. The additional driver used to analyze rates was a 16-year-old male, living at home, with no violations or accidents, driving five miles one way to school, with coverage limits identical to parents’ policies except as noted.

Average rates are for comparative purposes. Actual rates will depend on individual driver factors.

About has been offering drivers expert advice about car insurance and how to shop for it since 2003. Using a combination of industry expertise and information drawn from thousands of online quotes delivered without obligation each month, is a source for unbiased answers and data about what consumers should expect from an insurance policy. The site lets consumers compare multiple car insurance quotes online and purchase a policy online in minutes. is owned and operated by QuinStreet, Inc. (NASDAQ: QNST), one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies in the world. QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with the information they need to research, find and select the products, services and brands that best meet their needs. The company is a leader in visitor-friendly marketing practices. For more information, please visit

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