For millions of drivers, safety is a paramount concern that affects nearly every aspect of their automotive experience. The same applies to those looking to purchase a new vehicle. When it comes to buying a large family hauler for kids and cargo or a new sedan for young teens and loved ones, buyers want vehicles capable of protecting the lives of all on board with as few injuries as possible. In prior decades, finding the safest vehicles at an affordable price range was a daunting task for many shoppers. With advanced technology and breakthrough designs, many of today’s cars, trucks, SUVs and CUVs meet the criteria for being safe.
What People Look For When It Comes to Safety
Power, styling and utility are high on most people’s lists, but safety stands out the most in the mind of many car buyers. Safety-minded buyers tend to look for vehicles that can stand up to the most serious auto collisions while keeping occupants safe. SUVs and CUVs were often the most obvious choice due to their large size and weight. However, buyers are trending towards fuel efficient compact and midsize cars in response to higher gas prices and raised environmental awareness.
The average automobile features an amazing array of safety features that protect passengers, fellow motorists and even pedestrians. Multiple air bags protect driver and passengers from frontal, offset and side impacts. In addition, most cars now offer some form of electronic stability control and traction control to keep drivers safe under wet and icy road conditions. These systems activate automatically to prevent vehicles from losing control at high speeds.
When it comes to finding the safest cars on the road, buyers often turn to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Picks” list. The IIHS selected over 115 cars, trucks, SUVs and CUVs from various makes as their top picks for overall automotive safety. The IIHS utilizes several stringent tests to gauge a vehicle’s capabilities in a number of areas, including:
• Frontal and side impact protection
• Rollover protection
• Rear crash protection
• Head restraint effectiveness
• Bumper impact damage
• Vehicle stability during emergency maneuvers
• Supplemental restraint system effectiveness
The IIHS classifies tested vehicles as being “good,” “acceptable,” “marginal,” or “poor” when it comes to performance in frontal impact, side impact, rollover and rear crash safety. Vehicles that receive top marks are included in the “Top Safety Picks” list.
Safest Cars on the Road
Fiat’s 500 subcompact, Ford’s Fiesta sedan and hatchback and the 2012 Honda Fit were rated as being among the safest subcompact vehicles on the market, according to the IIHS’s battery of crash safety tests. The Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris hatchback are also excellent choices for those in search of safe and fuel efficient vehicles. Midsize cars such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry Subaru Legacy and Hyundai Sonata are perennial favorites for excellent overall safety. Honda made a concerted effort to improve the roof strength of its vehicles in response to marginal ratings on rollover protection. Subaru is notable for having all five of its currently sold vehicles featured as top picks on the IIHS list.
Buyers interested in affordable small, midsize and large SUVs have their pick of safe, comfortable and capable vehicles to choose from. The Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and Chevrolet Equinox received plenty of praise for being among the safest vehicles on the road. Other notable SUVs include the Dodge Durango, Ford Edge, Volkswagen Touareg and GMC Acadia.
The best-selling Ford F150 found a place on the “Top Safety Picks” list after receiving “good” marks across the board. Other notable top picks include the Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tundra. It also helps that these trucks are much heavier than most other vehicles on the road and offer greater visibility due to a higher ride height. Of the nine minivans currently on the market, five made the cut for the “Top Safety Picks” list. The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country and the related Volkswagen Routan received “good” ratings across the board. The Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna also received “good” marks in all four testing areas.
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