• Image Credit: VW

When your teen first starts driving, it's best to force them to share the family car. That gives parents the control over when the car is used, and gives you time to check-in with your teen to make sure things are going well.

But after 12 months of problem-free driving, your teen may be ready to own their own set of wheels. The freedom of having their own car is sure to make life easier for both you and your teen, but what do you buy? Given that statistics show younger drivers are generally a threat to safety, your best course of action is to find something with top-of-the-line safety features and scores. A lot of options that fit this criteria are pricey, but, fortunately, there are some used cars out there that are both safe and affordable.

According to IIHS testing, the cars in this gallery all offer an excellent safety record, as well as a low starting price. All of these models, in fact, can be found used for under $10,000. Head on through to see the options.

Honda Element (2007 and later)
  • Image Credit: Honda

Honda Element (2007 and later)

The quirky Honda Element is an excellent option if your teen needs a little bit more space than a traditional sedan. It doesn't have a ton of power, which is a great thing for teens since they shouldn't be racing, and it comes with numerous safety features, including standard side curtain airbags and an electronic stability system.

The Element was discontinued in 2011, but can still be found for under $10,000. Given Honda's reputation for reliability, even high-mileage examples of this vehicle should last your teen a long time.

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Volvo S80 (2007 and later)
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Volvo S80 (2007 and later)

Although Volvos are no longer synonymous with safety (not because their quality is slipping, but because so many competitors have caught up with Volvo), the S80 is a solid choice for teens.

It has all the safety technology you could want: side airbag, curtain airbags, blind spot warning and a warning if you're about to rear end the car in front of you. Some cars came with an optional personal car communicator package that senses heartbeats – telling you if someone is lurking inside the car waiting. The engine might be a bit powerful for a teen driver, but it's hard to argue with all those safety features.

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Volkswagen Jetta (2009 and later)
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Volkswagen Jetta (2009 and later)

The base model of this newer Jetta sedan didn't win over the hearts and minds of critics, who thought it was underpowered. But for teen drivers, it is perfect for merging onto the highway and doesn't make any hot shot behind the wheel feel like he or she should be drag racing.

The controls are simple and easy to use, which is something that's often hard to find these days with more and more features piled into entertainment systems. It also has electronic stability control and very few blind spots.

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Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen (2009 and later)
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Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen (2009 and later)

The Jetta Sportwagen employs almost all of the benefits of the sedan with an important addition: versatility. With it's bigger trunk area, courtesy of its hatchback design, the Jetta Sportwagen provides enough space for everything your teen needs, as well as the great safety features found on the standard Jetta.

The Jetta Sportwagen is a popular vehicle in automotive enthusiast circles, especially with its diesel engine, given its fun, but not too powerful, driving demeanor, fuel economy and benefits discussed above. It can be found for under $10,000 fairly easily.

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Volvo XC90 (2005 and later)
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Volvo XC90 (2005 and later)

The Volvo XC90 is one of the few SUVs recommended by IIHS for teen drivers. SUVs and trucks tend to have high centers of gravity, making them much more prone to rolling over. The XC90 is an exception on this list, as it can come with a wealth of safety features (depending on the year), including electronic stability control, side-impact and side curtain airbags, Roll Stability Control, Blind Spot Information System, and all-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution.

The XC90, when purchased new, has a high starting sticker price. Since IIHS recommends the XC90 for all years 2005 and later, some of the older versions of this vehicle can be found for under $10,000.

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Volvo C30 (2008 and later)
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Volvo C30 (2008 and later)

This quirky little hatchback was discontinued by Volvo for the 2013 model year, but there are still plenty of used options available out there. Not only is this a fun to drive -- though not too powerful -- car, it's also remarkably safe for its size. Safety features include front-, side-, side-curtain airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, whiplash protection, side-impact protection and stability traction control.

The C30 was intended for a younger consumer with sporty looks and a more athletic driving demeanor. It was an affordable vehicle when you could buy it new (starting around $25,000), meaning inexpensive used options are pretty easy to come by.

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