Continental's Emergency Steer AssistEnlarge Photo
5) Star Ratings Don't Say Much About Accident Avoidance
Outside of the Rollover score, which indicates a better chance of avoiding particularly deadly rollover situations, the federal government's star safety ratings don't say anything about actual accident avoidance. Definitely pay attention to the Rollover rating—and if in doubt a higher star rating indicates a more stable-handling vehicle—but you're going to have to trust your own instincts a bit here. Does the vehicle handle responsively? Do you find it confidence-inspiring?
Outward visibility is another very important safety aspect that has a lot to do with accident avoidance. A vehicle with limited outward visibility in some directions isn't inherently unsafe, but in a world with other vehicles, distracted drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists, it is. Can you comfortably and easily see out when backing up or changing lanes? If not, move on to another vehicle with good star ratings.