If you have a new young driver in the family, you might be thinking about buying another car. There are plenty of good used cars out there, but some choices are better for new drivers. Here are the features and models you should keep in mind.

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Buy Newer Models

You don’t have to buy a brand new car, but don’t buy an old clunker either. Newer models are more likely to have the latest safety features. Also, older vehicles may have mechanical quirks that can distract first time drivers.

Look For Electronic Stability Control

Electronic stability control (ESC) uses computer controlled braking to prevent a car’s direction from changing too quickly or not quickly enough, according to the US Department of Transportation. This maximizes the ability of the driver to maintain control during extreme maneuvers. The adjustments happen so quickly that the driver barely even notices, if at all.

ESC systems are also known as:

  • Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
  • Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
  • Vehicle Stability Enhancement (VSE)

ESC became mandatory on all vehicles in 2012, but many older models also carry this important safety feature.

Sedans Are Safer

Mid-sized or large sedans are safer, according to Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports Director Of Auto Testing. These models are lower to the ground and are less likely to rollover, and they are easier to maneuver. Also, side curtain airbags can help keep drivers inside the car in the event of a collision.

Not Too Slow, Not Too Fast

You want a car with decent acceleration so your teen can pass and merge with confidence. However, a very powerful engine might not be the best idea for a new driver learning how to handle horsepower.

Avoid Infotainment

Try to avoid models that have distracting interactive screens. Too many distractions can tempt drivers to take their eyes off the road.

The Best Models

Consumer Reports recently released its list of the safest used cars under $10,000 for teens. Here’s the list, including the model and starting price.

  1. Chevrolet Malibu (2009-2012, 4-cyl.) Starting at $8,125, the Malibu gets 25 mpg.
  2. Ford Focus (2009-2011) Starting at: $6,050, this model gets 29 mpg.
  3. Ford Fusion (2010-2012, 4-cyl. and hybrid) Starting at $8,325, the hybrid version is more expensive.
  4. Hyundai Sonata (2006-2014, 4-cyl., non-turbo) Starting at $5,450, the Sonata gets 26 mpg.
  5. Kia Soul (2010-2011) Starting at $8,925, this Kia comes with hands free calling.
  6. Mazda3 (2011-2013) Starting at $9,825, the 3 has especially good handling.
  7. Mazda6i (2009-2013, 4-cyl.) Starting at $8,375, this model has optional blind spot monitoring available.
  8. Toyota RAV4 (2004-2012, 4-cyl.) Starting at $5,590, it’s best to avoid the third row seat since crowded cars distract teen drivers.
  9. Volkswagen Jetta (2009-2010, 4-cyl.) Starting at $7,250, the diesel version gets 34 mpg.
  10. Volkswagen Rabbit/Golf (2009-2014) Starting at $7,700, the Rabbit is a responsive handler.

Inspect Before You Buy

Finally, before you buy any used car, get a qualified inspection to make sure you don’t miss any important defects.

Get a qualified vehicle inspection report on any car in the country. Order from CARCHEX now and get a report delivered to your Email – usually within 3 days.

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Published in CARCHEX Vehicle Inspection Resources by CARCHEX on June 26, 2015