Are you having nightmares about handing your teen the car keys? Or perhaps it’s already happened and now you’re trying (and failing) to stop imagining worst-case scenarios.

Yes, teen drivers can be fear-inducing. And yes, you do have to let them drive eventually. But fear not—by choosing the right car, you can help increase your teen driver’s safety and diminish your fears.

Vital safety features for teen drivers

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), “Teenagers file claims at more than twice the rate of 35-50 year-olds for small two-door cars and many other small and mini vehicle types.”

Although teens are more likely to engage in specific types of risky driving (like speeding, for example), the good news is that there are technologies that can decrease an inexperienced driver’s likelihood of being in an accident.

The IIHS recommends the following for teens:

  • Avoid cars with high horsepower.
  • Avoid mini and small cars since teens file claims at a high rate for them.
  • Purchase a car with Electronic Stability Control (ESC). Most teens don’t have much experience driving on wet and slippery roads, but ESC knows when the car loses traction and helps to reduce the chance of skidding and fishtailing. All cars made in 2012 or later are required to come equipped with ESC, but many older cars have it as well. To find out if your car has this feature, check out the IIHS website.
  • Make sure the vehicle has acceptable safety ratings.

So what are the safest cars for teens?

After significant research, the IIHS compiled lists of the safest cars for teen drivers. The lists are based on a few criteria including car size, whether the car is used or new, and of course price.

You can go to the IIHS site to see the full list. Below are some highlights.

Used cars under $20,000

Large Cars

Saab 9-5 sedan (2010 and later)

Lincoln MKS (2009 and later)

Buick Regal (2011 and later)

Midsize Cars

Toyota Prius v (2012 and later)

Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan (2009 and later)

Honda Accord (sedan 2012 and later; coupe 2013-14)

Small SUVs

Honda CR-V (2012 and later)

Kia Sportage (2011 and later)

Hyundai Tucson (2010 and later)

Used cars under $10,000

Large Cars

Acura RL (2005 and later)

Mercury Sable (2009)

Kia Amanti (2009)

Midsize Cars

Subaru Legacy (2009)

BMW 3-series sedan (2006 and later)

Mazda 6 (2009 and later)

Small SUVs

Nissan Rogue (2008 and later)

Ford Escape (2009 and later)

Mazda Tribute (2009 and later)

Teen driver safety program

It’s not easy to watch your teenager take their place behind the wheel. But Esurance DriveSafe® helps your teenager become a safer driver (and makes letting go a little bit easier). After you enroll in Esurance DriveSafe, we’ll send you a free telematics device to help you monitor your son’s or daughter’s driving behaviors so you can coach them on how to be safe and responsible behind the wheel. *

By syncing the device with a smartphone using Bluetooth technology, you can:

  • Create a list of acceptable phone numbers so that your teenager can always call (and receive calls from) you or any other emergency contact **
  • Receive alerts when your teen is speeding, out past curfew, and more
  • View customized summary reports of your teen’s driving habits

Have any questions, comments, or terrifying teen driver tales? As always, we’d love to hear what you have to say.

*The Esurance DriveSafe app is compatible with iPhones® running on iOS 6 or newer and Android™ devices running on 2.1 or newer, as well as some BlackBerry® devices. Other devices running on Symbian S60 or Brew™ may also be compatible.

The information provided by Esurance DriveSafe is for customer use only and will not influence your rate in any way. Personalized data generated by this program is hosted by a third party and will never be shared with Esurance. Esurance DriveSafe is available in all states where we do business except MA and PA.

**When the vehicle is in motion, teens with iPhones will see a banner on their home screen, reminding them not to use their phone while driving. iPhones do not support restriction of phone functionality.

Safe and smart


about Rachael

After studying Literature and Writing in San Diego, Rachael said farewell to her sunny hometown and left for San Francisco to revel in the fog. When she’s not writing Tweets and blogs and all manner of copy for Esurance, Rachael spends her free time hiking, enjoying the sparse sunshine at Ocean Beach, and seeking out the best reading spots in the city.