As a parent, vehicle safety is so important to me. What do you recommend I buy?
That is a timely question since the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just came out with their Top Safety Picks for 2014 vehicles. This is the highest safety award in the industry. This year they started a Top Safety Pick + (plus) designation which assures a new level of crash protection—that of forward collision warning systems.
Only 17 vehicles achieved the Top Safety Rating, in addition to the 22 in the new Plus category. To be in the plus category, at a minimum, these vehicles have warning systems with flashing lights or buzzers to warn you when you’re approaching the vehicle in front of you at too fast a pace . Some of those “plus” vehicles also have advanced braking systems to prevent rear-ending the driver in front of them.
According to the IIHS, to qualify for 2014 Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests; a good or acceptable rating in the small overlap front test; and a basic, advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.
I’m pleased to share with you that three Volvos and two Toyotas made the highest safety “Plus” category as follows:
• Small Car category—Toyota Prius
• Midsize car category—Volvo S60
• Large Luxury – Volvo S80
• Midsize SUVs—Toyota Highlander and the Volvo XC60.
Even if you don’t choose one of the Top Safety Picks, keep in mind the following when shopping for a new or pre-owned vehicle:
• Size and weight matter, the larger and heavier vehicles provide the best protection when you are in an accident.
• Airbags and seatbelts still help in accidents, which all vehicles have, you just have to use them!
• Equipment such as front crash prevention systems and adaptive headlights — are reducing crashes.
• Choose a vehicle with good side crash safety ratings and side airbags that will protect your head. Side airbags reduce accident fatalities by a whopping 70%!
• Look for a strong roof. The stability bar in Volvos is one reason they have such high safety ratings.
• Look for a vehicle with good head restraints that will help prevent whiplash.
• Buy a vehicle with electronic stability control, standard in models starting in 2012. This helps maintain control on slippery roads and has been known to reduce single vehicle accidents by about 50% and rollover fatalities by as much as 80%.
• Find out if the vehicle has any crash-avoidance technologies such as those listed in Top Safety Picks criteria: forward collision warning, auto brakes, or adaptive headlights.
As The Boston Globe’s automotive columnist, Bill Griffith, wrote: “If you buy a Volvo, you should feel safe. After all, that’s the dominant trait in Volvo’s DNA.” But he also gave the S60 rave reviews in a recent column for its design, sporty look, low-speed collision avoidance system and being a really fun car to drive! U.S. News and World Report gave the S60 a perfect 10 safety rating and 5 star ratings in all specific categories.
For those looking for more affordable and safe cars, take a look at the newer lines of Toyotas. They have the Star Safety System which is a suite of six safety systems designed to help when you are in harm’s way, and it comes standard in every new Toyota. This typically consists of Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop Technology.
Visit us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion and we’ll guide you in understanding the safest vehicle for your needs, style and budget.
Here’s to safe driving this winter!