When I turned 16, my grandparents gave me their used Oldsmobile Cutlass. I don’t remember exactly what model year it was, but I do remember that it was fast (or at least my 16-year-old-self thought so). In fact, one of my favorite pastimes was racing my friends through town. That is until one day when I hit gravel, lost control of the car, and ended up on top of the median.
When I turned 18, my mom — bless her heart — bought me a brand-new 2001 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS. I loved that car, and especially how it performed on ice. Sadly, after a night of doing donuts, I hit a curb, and popped not one, but THREE of my not-surprisingly bald tires — I then drove the car home on its rims. Shockingly, that car lasted another year — but then I ran it into the back of another car, which totaled it.
Simply put, when I was a teenager, I was an idiot behind the wheel. And unfortunately, I’m not an exception — you’re probably reading this, and thinking about your own driving “adventures.”
Luckily, there are ways to mitigate the threat of teenage drivers (both to themselves and unsuspecting others), and that is by getting them the slowest and safest cars available. So without further ado, here are three sluggish cars that also have great safety ratings.
1. 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i
With a starting MSRP of $21,695, the Subaru Legacy is the perfect car for your teenage lead-foot. Not only does the Legacy get great gas mileage thanks to its 175 horsepower- and 174 pound-feet of torque-2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, but Motor Trend reports that its “sprint” from zero to 60 is 9.2 seconds. In other words, parents, this thing is not quick; it won’t provide ample power for zipping around cars and flying down the highway. If it were an animal, it’d be a sloth.
Even better? Thanks to safety features like side airbags, rollover sensors, and seat cushion airbags, the Legacy scored a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This is the highest award that IIHS offers, which is great news for those that may be accident-prone. Plus, while the Legacy is not particularly “cool” looking, it’s also probably not going to cause your teenager added angst. The same may not hold true for the next car on this list.
2. 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i
If there’s one thing a teenager doesn’t want, it’s to look like he or she is driving a “mom” car. Unfortunately, as it’s a wagon, the 2015 Subaru Outback is just one step away from being as embarrassing as a minivan. But on the plus side, this may help deter your teen from excessive bouts of speed (no teenager wants to draw attention when driving a wagon). If it doesn’t, the engine is sure to take over.
The Outback’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine produces the same 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque as the Legacy. This allows the Outback to accelerate from zero to 60 in an identical 9.2 seconds. Thus, like its cousin, the Outback is not speedy, and definitely won’t win drag races. In fact, it’d probably rather take a nap than go racing around your city streets.
More good news? The Outback has a starting MSRP of $24,859 making it reasonably affordable, and it also scored a Top Safety Pick+ award from IIHS. So, if you’re looking for a safe and reliable car that won’t temp you teen to perform acts of daring (and there’s a chance you’ll need him or her to pick up the groceries on the way home), look no further than the Outback.
3. 2015 Kia Soul
I sincerely hope that my daughters never identify with dancing hipster hamsters, but if they do, I’ll probably end up getting them a Kia Soul — and therapy. Yes, the Kia Soul is an odd-looking car, with an even odder marketing campaign, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to love.
With a starting MSRP of $15,190, the Kia Soul is definitely the cheapest on this list. And, thanks to its 1.6-liter inline-four engine which produces 130 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque, it goes from zero to 60 in 8.3 seconds.
More importantly, thanks to safety features like a plethora of airbags, rollover sensors, a number of stability controls, and antilock brakes, the Kia Soul scored a Top Safety Pick award from IIHS. That’s not as high as the two Subarus listed previously, but it’s still an excellent score and should give parents a certain amount of comfort when they think about their driving teenagers.
Maintaining your sanity when your teenager starts to drive
When it comes to your teenager driving, there’s no way to guarantee that he or she will drive safely. Luckily, there are ways to help mitigate the potential damage such as buying a safe and slow car. That way, even if he or she does get in an accident, it’ll hopefully be at a slower speed, with lots of deploying airbags. Still, if your teenager is so out of control that none of the above three cars help, I’ve heard that Fisher Price makes an excellent EV.