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Yes, teens and seniors are crash-prone. That's the conclusion of a new report from Consumer Reports.

U.S. government data show that the crash rate for 16- and 17-year-old drivers is almost nine times as high as that for middle-aged drivers, while people 80 and older are involved in 5.5 times as many fatal crashes per mile driven as middle-aged drivers, says CR.

Yikes! For teens, the problem is a combination of inexperience and bravado. For oldsters, so-called "age-related" conditions get in the way of good driving. Many Canadian provinces and U.S. states have tackled the younger driver problem by introducing graduated licensing systems that impose limitations on new drivers in a range of ways – including the number of passengers allowed in a car with a new driver. But no politician will likely ever have the courage to take on the grey power lobby by even proposing limitations on senior drivers with diminished skills. These people vote, while kids tend not to.

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CR's take on young and old drivers is hardly surprising, but what makes the report really useful is a list of safe and reliable vehicles for these two at-risk groups.

"Parents should avoid getting their teen a large pickup or SUV (sport-utility vehicle); its high centre of gravity makes it more prone to roll over," says CR. "Large vehicles can also have unwieldy handling and poor fuel economy, and they allow teens to carry more passengers, which increases the crash risk."

So, without further ado, here's an alphabetical list of new and used vehicles CR recommends for teens:

  • Acura: TSX
  • Chevrolet: Equinox (V-6, 2010-2012), Malibu (four-cylinder, 2008 or later)
  • Ford: Focus sedan (2009-2011), Fusion (four-cylinder and hybrid, 2010 or later)
  • Honda: Accord (four-cylinder, 2008 or later), Fit (2011 or later)
  • Hyundai: Elantra (2011 or later). Elantra SE (2008-2010) Elantra Touring, Santa Fe (V-6, 2007-2009, no third-row seat), Sonata (four-cylinder, nonturbo, 2006 or later), Tucson (2010 or later)
  • Kia: Forte (2010 or later), Optima (non-turbo, 2010 or later), Soul, Sportage (four-cylinder non-turbo, 2011 or later)
  • Mazda: 3s Touring or Grand Touring (2007 or later), 6s (four-cylinder, 2009 or later)
  • Mitsubishi: Outlander (2007 or later, no third-row seat)
  • Nissan: Altima (four-cylinder, 2010 or later), Rogue, Sentra (2010 or later)
  • Scion: xB (2008 or later)
  • Subaru: Forester, (non-turbo, 2009 or later), Impreza, (non-turbo, 2009 or later), Outback Sport (2008 or later), Legacy 2.5i (2009 or later)
  • Toyota: Camry (2010 or later), Corolla (2010 or later), Matrix (2010 or later), Prius (2010 or later), RAV4 (2004 or later, no third-row seat)
  • Volkswagen: Jetta (2009-2010), Golf (2010 or later), Rabbit (2009)

As for seniors, here's a useful list from CR, also in alphabetical order:

  • Acura: RDX (2013)
  • Ford: Taurus (2008-2009)
  • Honda: Accord V-6 (2006-2007), Accord (2008-2012)
  • Hyundai: Azera (2006-2011), Genesis (2009-2012)
  • Infiniti: M (2006-2010)
  • Lexus: RX (2006-2009)
  • Mercury: Sable (2008-2009)
  • Nissan: Altima (2010-2012)
  • Subaru: Impreza (2012), Legacy (2010-2013), Outback (2010-2013), Forester (2009-2012)
  • Toyota: Avalon (2005-2012), Camry (2007-2012), Highlander (2004-2012), RAV4 (2006-2012)
  • Volkswagen: Tiguan (2009-2012)
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About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More


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