• Feds and independent agency tested the car
  • 2013 Civic earns highest ratings from NHTSA and IIHS
  • First compact car to earn both

We've compiled tips for finding the best car for your recent college grad. We think most parents would agree: Safety is the number-one concern.

Given limited budgets and the desire for good fuel economy, new drivers and college-bound kids often find themselves in a small car. But are small cars as safe as larger cars? They can be, and here's proof.

The 2013 Honda Civic has received the highest possible safety ratings from two very different organizations. The first is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score in the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). This means NHTSA, using sophisticated and computer-monitored crash dummies, has tested the 2013 Civic in front-end, side and new side pole collisions, as well as in a rollover test. The scores are combined to give the car a single rating from one to five stars -- five being the best.

The Honda Civic has also received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the organization's highest rating. According to Honda, "the 2013 Honda Civic Sedan and Coupe are the first and only small cars to earn IIHS's highest safety rating of TOP SAFETY PICK+ and the NCAP 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score." The newly redesigned 2013 Honda Accord earned these ratings, as well.

In addition to the high crash test scores, the 2013 Civic comes standard with stability control, anti-lock brakes, side curtain airbags, dual-stage, front airbags and driver and front passenger side airbags.

What it means to you: If you're looking for a small car that's also safe, the Honda Civic should be the first car you test drive.

author photo

Brian Moody heads up the AutoTrader.com editorial team. An automotive writer and presenter for more than 12 years, he's contributed to such media outlets as CNBC, Edmunds.com, Fox Business, Speed TV and The Today Show.

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