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Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

One of the more common used cars for sale, a white 2023 Subaru Crosstrek, is shown driving on a trail.

Looking for Great Safety Features on a Budget? Consider These Outstanding Used Models

Besides considering what you will be using a pre-owned car for when searching around, what else do you look for? Safety, of course. Whether you are searching for used cars for sale with a long history of car ownership or you are a new (perhaps inexperienced) driver and you need a dependable vehicle to get you where you wish to go, you have to keep in mind whether or not you will be safe on the road. By this, I mean checking out their ratings, accolades (if any), and technology assistance that will help guide you or prevent accidents from occurring.

Trust me, new or used; you do not want to fret about crashing your newly purchased vehicle and being stuck without a ride. You want to do everything you can to ensure your protection and your cars as well. Additionally, if a specific car you are looking for happens to have an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) award or a five-star safety rating, you may find your insurance to be much more affordable compared to a vehicle without. No matter what amount you are looking to spend, there are many cost-efficient cars for sale that have these safety and technology enhancements intact.

For parents, new drivers, and everyone in between, there is no greater worry on the road than safety. In fact, in terms of travel, cars are one of the most unsafe forms of transportation. I am not saying this to scare anyone but to make you aware. And maybe you have already heard the saying, “Every time you get into a car, you are risking your life.” Well, that is close to the truth. Unfortunately, cars do not even make the top three safest ways to travel (that belongs to planes, trains, and buses).

With traffic, a growing population, and new drivers getting their permits/licenses every day, the roads are a place to be cautious and alert. What better way to be alert and safe than driving in a five-star rating vehicle with advanced technology that is above the rest? So, when you are looking for used cars for sale, make sure to keep a lookout for these features. For now, let’s talk about which selected vehicles have all of the above to ensure you arrive without harm to your intended destinations.

Used Cars With Five-Star Safety Ratings

There are actually a decent number of cars out there, spread across various brands, that have the safety we are looking for, all IIHS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)-awarded. Some brands may surprise you, but I have a feeling most of these will not. The six top picks for safety are the Nissan Altima, Mazda 6, Toyota Corolla, Volvo S60, Subaru Crosstrek, and Honda Civic. All brands are trustworthy and are built to be dependable cars for the average driver. If you will notice, these are all sedans, except for the subcompact SUV Subaru Crosstrek. This is because sedans are low to the ground, so there is less chance for roll-over or flips.

They have more accessible airbags (like side airbags) and are easier to turn in emergency situations (meaning you will not be as likely to slide or tip like a truck or SUV). SUVs are also fighting for a top safety spot, like the Crosstrek, because of their better forward collision crashes since the longer hood range typically gives more space in what is called a “bigger crush zone.” It is as it sounds. Plus, SUVs are more likely to push smaller cars backward, so the force against the SUV driver is significantly less than that of a smaller vehicle. Now, let’s talk about our three contenders for used cars.

A red 2022 Toyota Corolla SE is shown driving.

The Toyota Corolla

Used Toyota Corollas can be some of the most dependable cars (and I may be a little biased here, as a used 2000 Corolla happened to be my first car), and there are plenty of facts to back this up. Did you know that the Toyota Corolla is actually a very popular car around the world? In fact, it has become so famous for its reliability and safety that it was statistically proven to be the best-selling car in 2022 worldwide. That is not an easy achievement! Plus, IIHS has awarded this vehicle the Top Safety Pick while also naming the 2019 and up model years the safest for new drivers, like teens and young adults.

With a five-star rating from the NHTSA, this car is suited to a multitude of safety features and has great fuel economy. The 2019 model gets up to 30 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway. With up to 140 hp, this model will take you beyond point A to point B with adventure to spare while remaining practical for new and old drivers alike. Some safety features include front whiplash-injury-lessening (WIL) seats, lane-departure assists, and more, like pre-collision and pedestrian detection. This car remains an affordable used choice, ranging around $13,000 to $18,000.

The Subaru Crosstrek

The Subarus Crosstrek also received five stars from NHTSA but has been awarded the Top Safety Pick+ victory through the IIHS. The base model for the Crosstrek typically comes with AWD, keeping excellent traction on all types of terrain. Most model years have been claimed as reliable and trustworthy, especially from 2017 until now. Like the Corolla, this used vehicle has great fuel efficiency and is affordable, ranging at similar pricing. Now, the 2023 model year is the latest to receive a Top Pick Safety award (awarded in 2022), but you can still find this used for around the mid $20,000 mark.

The 2023 model has plenty of cargo space at 55.3 cu. Ft. for those of you who love to travel solo or with family. Plus, with a 2.0L BOXER engine (or perhaps you can find a used model with the 2.5L BOXER engine), you will get up to 152 hp, which will get you 28 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway. With an athletic build, the Crosstrek will be able to travel long or short distances while keeping you comforted with a cozy interior and connected through Bluetooth capabilities. Now, that is a great choice for a used vehicle.

A red 2023 Nissan Altima is shown parked.

The Nissan Altima

Last but certainly not least, we will be talking about the Nissan Altima. The Altima matches with the Crosstrek for the Top Safety Pick+ category and the five-star rating from the NHTSA. It has earned these for the monitors surrounding the car (front, sides, and back), plus this is the cheaper option of the three for used vehicles. What is even more cool is that the Altima has been awarded the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ since its 2013 model year. That means there are many different Nissan Altima models to choose from, meaning it will be easier to find something light in your wallet.

Arguably, one of the best years and low maintenance requirements for the Nissan Altima is the 2023 model year. You can find this year’s model used for around $19,000 to $23,000. This, like the Crosstrek, can be customizable with a 2.0L or 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. However, this can get up to 248 hp with 25 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway. With an original design, the Altima will turn heads, gliding down the streets. It is truly just as dependable and safe as the Corolla and Crosstrek. This car features ProPilot Assist, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, and so much more. Check them out for yourself at your local used car dealership.