And with federal crash-test scores printed on vehicle window stickers, and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash-test ratings now a common bragging right in advertising, bad crash-test results are a lot harder to miss than they used to be. Automakers have tuned into the idea that shoppers really do care about safety, and the safety agencies are challenging automakers to engineer better occupant protection in their vehicles—all while they need to trim weight and conform to tougher fuel-efficiency standards.
Once you're aware of the potentially life-saving differences between a three-star rating and a five-star rating, or the range from 'poor' to 'good' (these all correspond to forces, or likelihoods of injury), it's tough to settle for anything but the best.
Besides, there are plenty of variables that you don't have as much control over. Fatal accidents are more likely to happen within 25 miles of where you live than farther away—even adjusted for mileage—and more likely to occur in the afternoon-commute or evening hours than in the morning. Some data supports cars that are black and other darker colors being more accident-prone. Again adjusted for mileage, those under 30, and those 70 and older, are far more likely to be involved in an accident. And, as you should know by now, those who are distracted with texting, food, or fatigue, are a hazard to themselves and everyone else on the road.
Auto insurers know all that. They also know the claims frequency of your particular model. Of course that all relates back not just to the safety of the vehicle, but the kinds of people who buy that model.
And it also comes back to you—how well you fit in the car, whether you can see out of it, whether you find the technology in the car useful, and whether you feel at ease driving it.
That's a separate evaluation you'll need to make; in the meantime, we took a look at how well automakers are doing on their 'standardized tests'—those crash tests from our two U.S. agencies.
For each of the models in the list following, you'll find The Car Connection's Safety-section takeaway, as well as details on what exactly makes these models top achievers. They all earn a perfect '10' from us, although every single one of them leaves at least a little room for improvement.