An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study indicates that many of the country's youngest and least-experienced drivers are often behind the wheel of vehicles that offer minimal levels of crash protection and on-board safety technology. To help those individuals and their parents make more enlightened choices from a safety standpoint, the IIHS has just issued its list of its recommended used cars for teenagers. Why used? Because 83 percent of the parents surveyed by the group said they had purchased a used vehicle for their child. 

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Larger vehicles offer better protection

The IIHS made its recommendations using four key guidelines. Heading the list is that young drivers should stay away from high-horsepower models. They also believe that larger, heavier vehicles afford better crash protection and that electronic stability control is a mandatory feature. Last but far from least, every vehicle on its list must have high safety marks - minimum "good" ratings in the IIHS moderate-overlap front test, "acceptable" ratings in the IIHS side crash test and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The cars, trucks and vans chosen were broken down into sub-$10,000 and sub-$20,000 categories for large and midsize cars; large, midsize and small SUVs and minivans, with values determined using Kelley Blue Book pricing as of July 1. 

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Heading their respective categories in the $10K-and-under realm were the Acura RL (2005 and later), Subaru Legacy (2009 and later), Mazda CX-9 (2007 and later), Nissan Rogue (2008 and later) and Volkswagen Routan (2009-2011). Leaders in the Under-$20K realm included the Saab 9-5 (2010 and later), Toyota Prius V (2012 and later), Buick Enclave (2011 and later) Volvo XC60 (2010 and later), Honda CR-V (2012 and later) and the Chrysler Town & Country (2012 and later). A comprehensive listing of all vehicles recommended by the IIHS in all price and size categories can be found here.

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