This post is contributed by Julie Blackley, Communications Manager for

The moment a teen gets their license can be bittersweet for parents. While it’s exciting to be officially relinquished of chauffeur duties, it’s also worrisome handing the keys over to a newly-minted driver. And for those parents who choose to help their teen with the car search financially, it can be overwhelming to find a safe car that falls within budget.

To help parents find peace of mind, iSeeCars determined the best bargains on almost-new cars under $20,000 that achieved the highest possible safety ratings. These bargains were part of an iSeeCars report that analyzed more than 4.1 million car sales to identify which cars lost the most value in 3 years to become the best deals for used car shoppers. And because these are late-model cars, many are equipped with the latest safety features to add needed protection for novice drivers.

Here are the results:

iSeeCars Best Bargains Under $20,000

 Cars for Grads and New Drivers

Rank Car Avg. 3-Year-Old Used Price % Depreciation NHTSA Safety Rating

(Out of 5)

1 Volkswagen Passat $14,906 50.7% 5
2 Ford Taurus $18,098 49.7% 5
3 Chrysler 200 $14,011 48.4% 5
4 Volkswagen Jetta $13,157 48.1% 5
5 Mazda 6 $15,732 45.9% 5
6 Ford Focus $12,061 45.7% 5
7 Kia Forte $11,545 45.4% 5
8 Chevrolet Impala $19,280 44.9% 5
9 Dodge Dart $12,420 44.6% 5
10 Chevrolet Malibu $14,370 44.5% 5
11 Ford Fusion $14,920 44.4% 5
12 Nissan Altima $14,292 44.3% 5
Average depreciation for all vehicles 35.0%

While the average vehicle depreciates 35 percent in 3 years, these cars can be purchased for up to 50 percent of what they would cost if purchased new. And with prices ranging from $11,545 to $19,280, there’s a used car bargain to be found across a variety of price points.

All the vehicles on the list have earned a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety rating of 5 out of 5 stars, making them the safest possible vehicles for new drivers. With its 5-Star Safety Ratings program, NHTSA conducts frontal, side, and rollover tests and evaluates how vehicles perform. Considered the standard in vehicle safety, these ratings have helped consumers compare the safety of vehicles for over 30 years.

Volkswagen accounts for 2 of the models on the list with the top-ranked Passat and the fourth-ranked Jetta. The midsize Passat has received praise for its impressive fuel economy, above-average space, drivability, and quality, while the compact Jetta is praised for its driving dynamics, fuel economy, and comfort.

Of the 12 vehicles on the list, 5 of the models have been discontinued or will soon be discontinued: the second-ranked Ford Taurus, the third-ranked Chrysler 200, the sixth-ranked Ford Focus, the ninth-ranked Dodge Dart, and the eleventh-ranked Ford Fusion.

The Ford models on the list will be discontinued in the coming years, while the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Dart have been previously retired. Because these models are no longer in production, anyone interested in these models has a limited time to purchase them almost new.

In addition to their safety and affordability, these almost-new cars provide great value by offering significant savings off of their price when purchased new. And while we can’t assure parents won’t be worry-free when their children take the wheel for the first time, ensuring that they’re in a safe and reliable vehicle they got a great deal on can help make the transition a little easier.

For more details about the study and its findings, visit the iSeeCars website.


Julie is the Communications Manager for, an online car search engine powered by big data analytics that helps consumers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars VIN report. When she isn’t writing about cars, she’s likely wrangling her 2 small children in or out of them. Despite her line of work, running will always be her preferred mode of transportation.

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