Which Cars Are the Safest for New Drivers? 

Safety should be your first priority if you are a new driver and are shopping for a car. Many factors go into choosing a car, budget, fuel efficiency, and all the bells and whistles. While those will certainly factor into your choice, safety should come first, especially for drivers with less road experience.

When choosing a vehicle for a first-time driver, there are some things you will want to consider. Among these considerations are advanced safety features, low cost of ownership, and good ratings on crash tests. 

Safety Features to Consider 

Some features make cars safer for everyone but are especially nice for new drivers. Consider going beyond seat belts and airbags for safety features when looking for a car. The following features can make driving much safer for inexperienced drivers. 

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) helps the driver avoid or minimize the seriousness of front-end collisions. The system automatically applies the brakes when it detects a potential collision. AEB depends on radar or cameras to survey the road detecting vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcycles, or other objects. 

When the system hones in on a potential collision, an alert for the driver with visual and audible warnings is signaled. If the motorist fails to respond, the automatic emergency braking system will apply the brakes to avoid or minimize the collision’s impact. 

Forward Collision Warning (FCW) 

Forward collision warning (FCW) systems let drivers know when they are approaching other motorists or obstacles too quickly if there seems to be the possibility of a crash. FCW systems depend on radar and cameras to monitor the road and determine how far you are from other vehicles and the speed at which the vehicles are traveling. If there are obstacles, FCW will alert you of those as well. 

When the driver approaches an obstruction or another vehicle faster than is safe, the FCW system will let the driver know, usually with flashing lights, beeps, or vibrations. The forward collision warning allows the inexperienced driver to avoid a potential automobile accident.

One of the most common types of accidents are rear-end collisions. The FCW system improves safety and reduces accident risks for new drivers. Though they aid in keeping the driver safe, there is no substitute for maintaining a safe distance, obeying the rules of the road, and avoiding distractions.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW)

A lane departure warning is another feature that can be valuable when keeping new drivers safe. LDW technology uses windshield-mounted cameras to monitor the road and detect the lines marking the lanes. Lane detection warning systems will notify the driver through flashing lights, vibrations, or sounds to take action if it finds that the motorist is crossing lanes. 

LDW systems can help the new driver to learn to drive in places that are unfamiliar or where there are winding roads. These systems are also beneficial if the driver is fatigued, as they will warn them they are changing lanes if they fall asleep at the wheel. 

Deciding Between a New and Used Car

New drivers may be at enhanced risk of getting into a crash, so it is understandable if they decide to drive a car that is less expensive and has been around the block a few times. This allows the new driver to get used to being behind the wheel without a huge investment. 

New cars may have the latest safety features, but the ones listed above are unavailable on all makes and models. If you are interested, it is essential to inquire about them specifically.

The following recommendations earned good ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Listed are various car types and our picks for new drivers in each category. 

Small Cars

If you are looking for a first car, we’d suggest the following: 

  • 2014-2015 Ford C-Max Hybrid 
  • 2019 or newer Toyota Corolla Hatchback
  • 2022 Honda Insight

Midsize Cars

Here are some of the safest choices in midsize cars: 

  • 2018 Volvo S 60
  • 2015-2017 Volkwagen Passat 
  • 2022-to current model of Kia K-5

Large Cars

If you are in the market for a safe, larger car, here are our suggestions: 

  • 2011 Ford Taurus
  • 2011-2014 Toyota Avalon
  • 2011 Hyundai Genesis

Small SUVs

Small SUVs are popular with many. These are the ones that we think will keep you the safest: 

  • 2017 Volvo XC60
  • 2015-present 
  • 2021 Hyundai Kona

Midsize SUVs

These are slightly roomier than the smaller SUVs. The choices listed below are our suggestions if safety is a concern:

  • 2018 to present Toyota Highlander
  • 2017 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 2017 GMC Terrain


One of the popular choices for young families, here are our suggestions: 

  • 2015-2018 Toyota Sienna 
  • 2017-present Honda Odyssey
  • 2017 Kia Sedona

These are just a few of the many great choices out there. Determine the safety features you think are most valuable, and ensure the vehicle you choose comes equipped with them. Take care of any problematic issues immediately, perform routine maintenance, and drive safely.  

Steven Hatman
Steven Hatman

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