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Safe Car Choices for Teen Drivers

Published Apr 10th 2007, 4:43pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

Forbes_home_logo In a recent article at, author Dan Lienart discussed their annual picks for smart cars for teens.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced that Ford has made changes to its $18,000 Fusion sedan, and better safety ratings...resulted," began Leinert. "But safety isn't the only reason the Fusion has made the list of 15 smart cars for teenagers," Leinert continued  "It is also inexpensive and has good gas mileage (23/31 city/highway, under optimal configurations). It has 'very good' accident-avoidance capabilities... and 'much better than average' predicted reliability."

"What's more," Leinert said "it has overall manufacturing quality that is between 'about average' and 'better than most,' according to J.D. Power and Associates."

Ap_girl_teen_driver_2 "A great choice for teenagers, no doubt," claimed Leinert. but the Fusion is just one of 15 on this year's list of best cars for teens. "All offer the market's best combination of value, fuel economy, safety, reliability and quality."

Other vehicles on the list included the Honda Civic, "thanks to value (base price $15,000), excellent accident-avoidance capabilities and better than average reliability."


Ap_chevrolet_malibu_2 Ap_chrysler_pt_cruiser_2 Ap_ford_escape Ap_ford_fusionChevrolet Malibu
Chrysler PT Cruiser
Ford Escape
Ford Fusion

Ap_honda_accord Ap_honda_civic Ap_honda_element Ap_hyundai_sonata Honda Accord Sedan
Honda Civic
Honda Element
Hyundai Sonata

Ap_mercury_milan_2 Ap_pontiac_vibe Ap_subaru_outback Kia Spectra
Mercury Milan
Pontiac Vibe
Subaru Outback Wagon

Ap_toyota_camry Ap_toyota_corolla Ap_toyota_matrix Toyota Camry
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Matrix

In forming the list above, Leinert explained, they "looked at all new-model cars at the market, and eliminated from consideration any vehicle with a base price of $20,000 or higher."

Ap_boy_teen_driver They also eliminated any model that "lacked, for whatever reason, an accident-avoidance rating or predicted-reliability rating from Consumer Reports, a J.D. Power rating for overall manufacturing quality or a full set of NHTSA safety ratings (meaning we eliminated any car that does not have two frontal-star ratings, two side-star ratings and a rollover-resistance rating)." Leinert explains, "Not every car on the market is tested by these organizations, and not every car has all of these ratings, but we wouldn't put our kids into cars without the availability of such critical information."

Leinart's article also discussed the considerations of new versus used, for those readers who ask "Who can afford to buy their kids new cars?" Leinart said, "While we are aware that the same model is ordinarily a better deal as a used car than a new one, the aim ... is to provide readers information about the newest vehicles on the market. Because this is an annual look, we need to focus only on new cars in order to make the piece newsworthy."

In case some parents notice that no SUV's made the list, Leinert explained,  "when we set out to write this piece we intended to include SUVs. But we found that in addition to a dearth of cheap SUVs on the market, only two SUVs came close to comparing favorably with the passenger cars on our list. Concerns with fuel efficiency and safety tended to keep SUVs off the list. While we understand some parents' bias toward the tall trucks, SUVs do not measure up quantitatively under the criteria we feel are most important in selecting cars for teenagers."

Forbes also included a slideshow of 'Smart Cars For Teens," as well as a video segment outlining "Great Cars For Teen Drivers."

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