Safety is no longer a back-burner priority for new-car shoppers. Across most types of vehicle shoppers, it’s one of the top concerns.
Many families, as we recommend, start their shopping process by weeding out potential vehicles that simply don’t make the cut in occupant safety.
However, in 2015 that’s less straightforward than it’s been in the past. There are so many five-star federal safety ratings, so many very well-stocked safety feature lists, and so many Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)—71 of them in all—that it’s hard to filter out those that are the best from those that are merely better than average.
Collision warning systems: an extra bit of safety to help with the odds
Real-world data has shown that forward collision warning systems, and such systems that automatically brake, do help drivers avoid crashes at both low and moderate speeds; and there’s evidence that they reduce the severity of what would have been higher-speed accidents. So the IIHS now includes their evaluation of these frontal systems in its ratings, requiring an array of top-tier crash ratings as well as the Institute’s ‘Advanced’ or ‘Superior’ level of front crash prevention to get its best ‘Top Safety Pick+’ (TSP+) nod.
That narrows the field somewhat; there are 33 of those (TSP+) honor-rollers so far, and likely many more to be named by the end of the year. So to whittle the list of candidates to a smaller group yet, we’ve cross-referenced those TSP+ choices with models that earn a top five-star rating from the federal government both overall and in frontal and side impact tests. That’s what we do in assigning our ‘perfect 10’ ratings for Safety, and it is a great starting point for safety-concerned shoppers.
It’s certainly not a comprehensive list of the safest models, as there are plenty of luxury-badged models that have a solid reputation for real-world safety, as confirmed by insurance claims and accident reports, yet no crash-test ratings. And furthermore, many models offer active-safety features that likely cut your chances of an accident even more, or would help lessen the severity.
Set yourself up for safe motoring
As always, we caution that it goes beyond simply choosing a particular model. Alongside these lists and ratings, you need to feel comfortable with a vehicle in order for it to be safe. That means fitting well in the car, being able to see out of it, and being at ease driving it and using the technology on board—and paying lots of attention to those things at the dealership and on the test drive.
With that information in mind, click through to see all the top achievers in safety for 2015, thus far.