Auto Club Names 2009's Safest Cars For Teens

(LOS ANGELES, Aug. 10, 2009) Many Southern California teens will return to school in the next few weeks, and some may hope to drive onto campus in a new vehicle. Because car crashes are the number one cause of death for teens nationwide and California, getting the right car for a novice driver is an important decision for parents. The Automobile Club of Southern California has developed a list of criteria and vehicles to assist parents and their teens.

When asked by parents: “What is the safest car to get my new teen driver?” the Auto Club’s answer is: a mid-size car with a four-cylinder engine, automatic transmission, Antilock Braking System (ABS) and high safety crash test scores.

“A mid-size car is big enough to protect a novice driver in a crash, but small enough to be manageable for a novice driver,” said the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center Manager Steve Mazor. “The four-cylinder engine limits acceleration capabilities and generally provides better fuel economy. Automatic transmissions are easier to drive and allow the novice to focus on the road as well as steering, acceleration and braking. Electronic stability control helps prevent roll-overs.”

The Auto Club’s Diamond Bar-based Automotive Research Center (ARC) developed a list of two groups of new cars that meet these criteria. Crash test scores are from the AAA/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication “Buying a Safer Car-2009” soon to be available at Auto Club offices or http://www.safercar.gov/ .
The ARC selected vehicles that scored the maximum 5 stars for frontal collisions and side impacts, as well as cars that scored 5 stars on all collision tests except they had at least 4 stars for rear side impact. All cars also scored at least 4 stars in the roll-over evaluation.
 

Group 1: 5 stars on all crash tests (at least 4 stars on rollover) 4 cylinder automatic

 

 

Acura

TSX

$29,970

 

 

 

 

 

Chevrolet

Malibu

$22,325

 

 

 

 

 

Chevrolet

Malibu Hybrid

$26,275

 

 

 

 

 

Dodge

Caliber

$20,325

W / Auto Trans & Security Group

 

 

Hyundai

Sonata

$20,595

 

 

 

 

 

Kia

Optima

$19,625

 

 

 

 

 

Mazda

6

$21,900

 

 

 

 

 

Nissan

Altima 4 door

$20,620

 

 

 

 

 

Nissan

Altima Hybrid

$27,370

 

 

 

 

 

Subaru

Legacy

$25,660

 

 

 

 

 

Toyota

Camry

$21,595

W /  Stability Control

 

 

Toyota

Camry Hybrid

$26,900

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group 2: 5 stars on all tests except 4 stars for rear occupant side impact (at least 4 stars on rollover)

4 cylinder automatic unless otherwise specified.

Make

Model

MSRP (inc freight)

 

 

 

 

Chrysler

Sebring LX

$21,255

 

 

 

 

 

Dodge

Avenger RT

$23,615   

W / Stability Program

 

 

Ford

Fusion S

$21,130

Auto Trans & Stability Control

 

Kia

Rondo

$18,145

 

 

 

 

 

Lincoln

MKZ

$33,490

6 Cylinder Engine (Std)

 

 

Mazda

5

$19,855

Stability Control unavailable

 

 

Mercury

Milan

$24,630

W / Stability Control

 

 

Subaru

Impreza

$23,160

 

 

 

 

 

Subaru

Impreza Wagon

$23,660