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IIHS Says Subaru's 5 Models Are Top Picks For Teens, But Why Are They The Best?

What are the best new and used Subaru models for your teen driver? Check out the five Subaru models picked by the IIHS and Consumer Reports. They are your top choices if you are looking for a Subaru, and I'll explain why they are the best now. 

If you shop for a new or used Subaru car or SUV, which ones are the best for teen drivers? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Consumer Reports (CR) have updated their best new and used cars for teen drivers' recommendations

Subaru now has five top picks for teens. I'll answer the question: Why are they the best picks for your teen driver? 

There Are 7 Subaru Models In All Price Ranges

The Subaru Outback midsize SUV, Subaru Ascent midsize 3-Row SUV, and Subaru Impreza compact car are the best new models for younger drivers. In addition, the Subaru Forester compact SUV, Subaru Impreza compact car, and Subaru Legacy midsize sedan are among the top used car choices. 

You'll find all of the Consumer Reports and IIHS picks here.

UPDATE From Subaru of America: “We are thrilled to have seven of our vehicles recommended for teen drivers by IIHS and Consumer Reports this year,” said Jeff Walters, President and Chief Operating Officer Subaru of America, Inc. “Subaru takes great pride in its commitment to safety and consistently strives to deliver vehicles that offer outstanding protection and reliability for drivers of all ages. The recognition from IIHS and Consumer Reports further validates Subaru’s dedication to producing vehicles that prioritize the well-being of every occupant.”

You likely already know that Subaru cars and SUVs make excellent cars for teens because they have Symmetrical all-wheel-drive with all-weather performance and will keep your teen driver safe. But there's more. 

Safety, Reliability, And Road Tests Are Top Reasons

The IIHS likes cars that help avoid collisions and have the best crash scores, and Consumer Reports looks at reliability and road-test performance. The Subaru models excel in all those areas, too. 

Keep reading, and I'll explain further what sets the Subaru vehicles apart from other new and used car recommendations. It involves the road test. First, let's look at what the IIHS says.

The IIHS says, "For teenagers, the combination of immaturity and inexperience makes driving especially risky. If they're going to drive, choosing a safe vehicle is key. In addition to safety, reliability, and affordability are also top concerns for families."

This year's recommendations by the IIHS and Consumer Reports now include two tiers of used vehicles: Best Choices and Good Choices. Starting prices for the Subaru recommended used models range from under $12,000 to $19,000. 

The IIHS says cars were chosen because of their weight (over 2,750 pounds), which rules out the smallest vehicles, which tend to be the most vulnerable to passenger injury in the event of a crash. 

All recommended vehicles have above-average reliability scores from CR (4 or 5 out of 5) for most model years listed and CR emergency handling scores greater than or equal to 3 to 5 out of 5. They also have dry braking distances (going from 60 mph to zero) of 145 feet or less.

First, I'll cover the best used Subaru models for teens.

Consumer Reports says, "Parents choosing a car for their teen driver have a tough decision to make because they need to strike a balance between cost and safety. But the latest analysis by Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that more safety is available for the money in the latest list of best used cars for teens."  



  • Subaru Forester 2021 or newer, $19,000


  • Subaru Legacy (2019) $14,700

GOOD CHOICE used Subaru models under $15,000


  • Subaru Impreza sedan and wagon (2019-20) $13,200


  • Subaru Legacy (2017-18) $11,600


This list of new vehicles for teens offers an even higher level of safety that includes:

Standard automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems that earn an advanced or superior rating from IIHS in the original vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention test. AEB cuts police-reported front-to-rear crashes in half, IIHS research has shown, and rear-end crashes make up nearly a quarter of all crashes teens are involved in.


  • 2024 Subaru Impreza $23,400


  • 2024 Subaru Outback - $29,300
  • 2024 Subaru Ascent - $35,000

How safe are Subaru vehicles?

Subaru's vehicles come with standard Symmetrical all-wheel-drive and excel in all-weather driving, but the brand is also known for its exceptional crash protection and safety records. 

The Outback, Forester, Ascent, Impreza, and Legacy models are IIHS Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ winners.

Why do the Subaru models excel in Consumer Reports road test scores?

All Subaru models use a Boxer engine, which brings a unique quality called balance that sets them apart from the competition. Scientifically, balance is the body's ability to maintain its center of gravity above its support base. 

It helps maintain stability in all driving situations, especially in a taller SUV, and you want your teen to have that. 

Subaru Uses The Boxer Engine Exclusively

No other automaker offers a flat-four Boxer engine in all its vehicles. The horizontally-opposed design allows the engine to sit low in the chassis lowering the center of gravity, giving the Subaru model excellent balance and the best driving dynamics. A driver can make a mistake in a Subaru vehicle and not get hurt because they tend to be more stable than other cars and sport utility vehicles.

An example is when an inexperienced teen driver enters a corner or exit ramp too quickly and gets in trouble. In a Subaru vehicle, the car's lower center of gravity keeps the vehicle from leaning too far over, which could cause the driver to overcorrect, resulting in a crash. Or if a young driver has to swerve quickly to avoid hitting something in the road, they'll be able to correct it without losing control.

How Well Can Your Teen Driver See?

Another characteristic of Subaru models that needs to be included is their excellent visibility for the driver.

Because the Boxer engine in Subaru models sits much lower in the chassis than in other car brands, the lower engine height significantly affects a Subaru vehicle's outward visibility from the driver's seat.

The significant benefit is that the hood slopes downward because of the Boxer engine's height in the engine compartment. This gives the driver improved outward visibility and a better view of the road ahead. Even though the Outback, Legacy, and Ascent are midsize SUVs, it feels like you're driving a much smaller vehicle.  

So, to recap, Subaru vehicles are top picks for teen drivers because they have the latest safety tech that helps prevent collisions, they are reliable, have superior driving dynamics in all situations, and have excellent visibility—all vital characteristics for teen drivers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports recommends the Subaru Forester, Outback, Ascent, Impreza, and Legacy, but any Subaru model is a good choice. 

If you have a teen driver story you'd like to share, click on the red Add new comment link below.  

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

Photo credit: Subaru