(iSeeCars) – The moment your teen gets their driver’s license can be bittersweet. While it’s exciting to be officially relieved of chauffeur duties, it’s also frightening handing the keys over to a newly-minted driver. And for parents who choose to help their teen with the car search financially, it can be difficult to find a safe and reliable car that falls within budget, especially in the current used car market. 

To help parents find peace of mind, iSeeCars determined the safest and most reliable cars for teens across multiple vehicle categories for under $25,000. These cars achieved a score of 8.5 or above (out of 10) on an iSeeCars quality analysis that takes into account long-term reliability and the average safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). While standard and available advanced safety features vary across models, the cars on this list have basic safety features like electronic stability control and front airbags. Additionally, the vehicles on this list have a combined MPG of over 20 to help minimize the amount of money new drivers will need to spend on gas.

Here are the best cars for teens by vehicle category:

The Safest and Most Reliable Cars for Teens for Under $25,000By Vehicle Category (iSeeCars Study)
Vehicle CategoryVehicleiSeeCars Safety and Reliability ScoreAverage Used Car Price
Best Small Car2017 Honda Civic (Coupe)9.6$22,785
Best Luxury Small Car2017 Volvo S609.4$23,135
Best Midsize Car2017 Honda Accord9.5$21,851
Best Luxury Midsize Car2015 Lexus ES 3509.5$24,252
Best Large Car2015 Toyota Avalon9.9$21,017
Best Luxury Large Car2015 Acura RLX8.9$22,682
Best Small SUV2017 Subaru Outback9.2$24,894
Best Luxury Small SUV2015 Acura RDX9.1$20,749
Best Midsize SUV2015 Honda Pilot9.3$21,060
Best Luxury Midsize SUV2015 Acura MDX9.0$23,924
Best Minivan2015 Honda Odyssey8.7$21,889
Best Wagon2019 Subaru Impreza8.5$23,784
Best Luxury Wagon2015 Volvo V608.8$18,252
Best Hybrid Car2017 Toyota Prius8.8$24,967
Best Luxury Hybrid Car2015 Lexus ES 300h9.3$24,052

Best Small Car for Teens

Honda Civic (Coupe)

2017 iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 9.6

Average Used Car Price: $22,785

Although the Honda Civic’s coupe body style was discontinued for the 2021 model year, drivers who want the sportiest version of the vehicle will be able to find it used. Civics from the 2017 model year come standard with a rearview camera, and a suite of advanced safety features that include forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist. Automatic high-beam headlights are also available.

Best Luxury Small Car for Teens

2017 Volvo S60

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 9.4

Average Used Car Price: $23,135

The Volvo S60 proves it’s possible to have a safe and reliable luxury car for under $25,000. The 2017 Volvo S60 comes standard with the Volvo City Safety feature, which activates emergency braking if a low-speed collision is imminent. A suite of active safety features are also available such as automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, active lane control, and automatic high beam headlights. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is also available. The 2017 Volvo S60 also earns the highest award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which is the Top Safety Pick+ designation.

Best Midsize Car for Teens

2017 Honda Accord (Sedan)

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 9.5

Average Used Car Price: $21,851

The Honda Accord is the best midsize sedan for teens. The Accord is praised for its sporty handling while offering more passenger room than most of its competitors. The Accord’s base engine gets an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, which are excellent ratings for its class. It comes with active safety features including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights. The 2017 Honda Accord earned a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS.

Best Luxury Midsize Car for Teens

2015 Lexus ES 350

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 9.5

Average Used Car Price: $24,252

The Lexus ES 350 has a spacious and luxurious interior as well as a long list of standard safety features, including forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, road sign detection, and automatic high-beam headlights. All-wheel drive is available when paired with its four-cylinder engine option.

Best Large Car for Teens

2015 Toyota Avalon

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 9.9

Average Used Car Price: $21,107

The Toyota Avalon is the best large car for teens. The Avalon has ample passenger and cargo space, and an interior full of high-end materials, including synthetic leather upholstery. The 2015 Avalon comes standard with a rearview camera, and adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert are available on higher trims. 

Best Luxury Large Car for Teens

2015 Acura RLX

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 8.9

Average Used Car Price: $22,682

The 2015 Acura RLX large luxury sedan boasts stellar safety scores and below-average cost of ownership. It comes standard with a rearview camera, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.

Best Small SUV for Teens

2017 Subaru Outback

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 9.2

Average Used Car Price: $24,894

The Subaru Outback’s ambiguity as a wagon-like SUV offers the smooth driving dynamics of a car and the utility of an SUV. The 2017 Outback was awarded the Top Safety Pick+ safety designation from IIHS. Available safety features include blind spot monitoring, forward and rear collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and steering-responsive automatic headlights. 

Best Luxury Small SUV for Teens

2015 Acura RDX

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 9.1

Average Used Car Price: $20,749

The 2015 Acura RDX has above average cargo space for a small SUV and excellent safety ratings. However, the 2015 RDX lacks active safety features beyond a backup camera. 

Best Midsize SUV for Teens

2015 Honda Pilot

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 9.3

Average Used Car Price: $21,060

Earring the spot as the best midsize SUV for teens is the 2015 Honda Pilot. The Honda Pilot offers a smooth ride and above-average gas mileage for its class. The Pilot comes standard with a rearview camera, and front and rear parking sensors are available on the top trim. The redesigned 2016 Pilot adds more standard and available active safety features, but will cost more on the used market.

Best Luxury Midsize SUV for Teens

2015 Acura MDX

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 9.0

Average Used Car Price: $23,924

The 2015 Acura MDX is the luxury version of the Honda Pilot. The MDX comes standard with a rearview camera, while forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control are available. The 2015 MDX was awarded the Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS.

Best Minivan for Teens

2015 Honda Odyssey

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 8.7

Average Used Car Price: $21,889

While minivans may not be a popular vehicle choice for teens, they might come in handy for teens who want a lot of cargo space. The Honda Odyssey comes standard with a rearview camera, and forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and Honda’s LaneWatch blind spot camera system are available on upper trims.

Best Hatchback/Wagon for Teens

2019 Subaru Impreza

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 8.5

Average Used Car Price: $23,784

The Subaru Impreza offers standard all-wheel drive, which is rare for its class. Not only is it one of the best AWD cars on the market because of its quality and value, it’s also fuel efficient, with a combined mpg of 31. The reliable and safe Impreza comes standard with a rearview camera, and driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking are available. The Impreza earned a IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation for its 2019 model.

Best Luxury Wagon for Teens

2015 Volvo V60 Wagon

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 8.8

Average Used Car Price: $18,252

The 2015 Volvo V60 luxury wagon meets our safety and reliability criteria and has a used car price of $18,252. The V60 offers 24 cubic feet of cargo space behind its rear seat, making it a more spacious alternative to a standard sedan. The 2015 Volvo V60 earns the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation and comes standard with Volvo’s City Safety system, which can automatically apply the brakes in an emergency if the car is traveling at speeds of 31 mph or below. Available safety features include front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, a driver drowsiness monitor, road sign detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.

Best Hybrid Car for Teens

2017 Toyota Prius 

iSeeCars Safety and Reliability Score: 8.8

Average Used Car Price: $24,967

The Toyota Prius hatchback offers plenty of passenger and cargo room, plus a suite of standard safety features including a rearview camera, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. Available safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive headlights, traffic sign recognition, and automatic emergency braking. The 2017 Prius also earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation.  

Best Luxury Hybrid Car for Teens

2015 Lexus ES 350h

iSeeCars Quality Score: 9.3

Average Used Car Price: $24,052

The 2015 Lexus ES 350h is a reliable and safe used car for under $25,000. The ES 300h has excellent fuel economy with an estimated 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. The Lexus ES 350h comes standard with a rearview camera and available safety features include lane departure warning, park assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Important Safety Features to Protect Teen Drivers

When choosing a car for your teen driver, it’s important to consider a vehicle’s driver assistance features. Newer vehicles are more likely to have these advanced driver assistance features, but there are other safety features that are commonly found on older model vehicles. Here are the most important safety features to consider:

  • Electronic stability control (ESC): Electronic stability control automatically applies the brakes when a vehicle skids or slides on slippery surfaces or curvy roads. This safety technology is so important that it has been required in most vehicles since 2012.
  • Backup/Rear cameras: Backup/Rear cameras have been mandatory in new vehicles as of May 2018. However, this technology is common in older vehicles.
  • Forward-collision warning with automatic braking: This technology uses sensors to detect what’s in front of your car while monitoring your car’s speed. If a crash is imminent, it will give a warning. If you don’t stop on your own, the system will automatically apply the brakes.
  • Blind spot threat detection. Blind spot detection uses sensors to alert drivers to vehicles that are not yet visible but are in adjacent lanes.

Bottom Line:

Having a teen driver can be worrisome, but the car buying experience doesn’t have to be. Whatever your vehicle preference, there is a high-quality used vehicle to suit your needs for under $25,000. Making a good choice for a teen’s first vehicle purchase can provide much-needed peace-of-mind. 

Methodology:

iSeeCars analyzed over 1.7 million used cars sold between May and July 2022 to find cars with an average price under $25,000. It then combined this pricing information with reliability and safety scores from its Best Cars Rankings, along with the latest mpg values, to determine the best cars for teens. Cars were required to have a minimum mpg of 20 and a combined reliability and safety score of at least 8.5 out of 10 to be included.

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is a car search engine that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars free VIN check reports and Best Cars rankings. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $343 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of new cars and used cars.

This article, Safest and Most Reliable Cars for Teens Under $25,000, originally appeared on iSeeCars.com.