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Thread: "Safest car"?

  1. #1
    Carseat Crazy
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    "Safest car"?

    How do you decide what the "safest" car would be?

    There are so many different places to research and so many different factors to consider.

    Is it better that the car have features to prevent accidents or better crash test performance?

    Then it gets confusing because a less safe big car may be safer than a more safe small car... When you try to take fuel economy, price, reliability it's even more complicated!

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  3. #2
    Admin - Webmaster Admin's Avatar
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    Re: "Safest car"?

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  4. #3
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: "Safest car"?

    We just completed the car buying process (first time I have ever done this!), and honestly this was one of the most challenging questions for me. Here's how we did it: first, we culled our list for dealbreakers unrelated to safety (e.g., we needed a hatchback, we were unwilling to consider cars that averaged less than 30 mpg, we did not want a van or SUV, we wanted to spend under a certain amount, etc.) That got us a list of maybe a dozen cars. Then I looked at IIHS and NHTSA testing on each of them, and eliminated anything that did really abysmally. (We left things on the list if they had mediocre performance, though.) Then we went to go look in person at the six or so cars that were left, test drove, read anything I could find online about them, and narrowed the list to just three. We test drove again and began actually pricing our two favorites with dealers, and then just went with the one of the two that made the most sense considering all of the factors. It turned out that both of our final two were IIHS Top Safety Pick+ cars, but because we weren't looking at high enough trim levels for the safety features that added that +, it was moot. (One of our two final options was the Prius v, which failed the small overlap test last year and passed with flying colors this year after a redesign, though, and we specifically did not consider the 2014 or earlier models because of that--even though we could have gotten a killer deal on one! Part of that was unease about knowing the car had failed that test, however unlikely such a crash might be, and part of it was resale value, knowing that Consumer Reports will likely have a big black "not recommended" mark for those model years that might eat up anything we'd save on the purchase price if/when we eventually sell it.) I'd say cars fell off the list just as often for other reasons as for safety, though--it was more about the sum of all the pieces. The only car where the crash test results were the only dealbreaker was the Nissan LEAF (which I'm still a little sad about!)

    What helped was continually telling myself that all of our options would be safer than the 14-year-old car we're currently driving, so there's that. (Although even there, I was surprised to find that some of the safety features we have on our 2001 car are not standard for every manufacturer yet!) It does also get challenging if you're looking at both new and used cars, as we were, and have to factor in what safety features a higher-trim-level older car might have vs. improvements to overall design changes a new car might have. Makes your head spin!

  5. #4
    Carseat Crazy
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    Oh boy - the three winners on that article weren't even ones I had been considering!!

    Oakster - what did you end up picking?

  6. #5
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: "Safest car"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rm2000hg View Post
    Oh boy - the three winners on that article weren't even ones I had been considering!!

    Oakster - what did you end up picking?
    We are getting a Subaru Impreza wagon...although I am already busy second-guessing that decision (we chose a color with an ivory interior...probably idiotic for a family with kids and dogs, but we were focused on the exterior color we really liked!)

  7. #6
    Carseat Crazy DawgDad's Avatar
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    Re: "Safest car"?

    Yep...oakster is right. You need to put together a list of "needs" and see what category of vehicle you fall into. If you have 4 kids, then obviously your need for a vehicle is different then one with 2. Or if you need AWD, large ground clearance for rugged terrain, mpg, etc. Once you have that narrowed down, Darren and the staff have really put together a great couple of lists of sedans and best family vehicle picks (SUVs & Vans) that meet your needs for safety. Also, if you narrow it down to one or two you can usually find a write up on the car from the blog or someone on here can give you a more in depth "field test" of how the car performs for installing car seats and such.

    Now is a good time to buy as many dealerships are still extending "year end" deals through this month (it was slow in December).

  8. #7
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: "Safest car"?

    I agree with the info above but also wanted to try to address your question about crash prevention, which is more difficult to judge than crash protection, where you have the NHTSA and IIHS crash tests. (IIHS does provide a score for forward crash warning and autobrake systems, but those largely address low-speed rear-end crashes. NHTSA also provides a star rating for rollovers.)

    One resource you can use is Consumer Reports, which includes results from the test track in their reviews. In particular, you can look at scores on wet and dry braking distances (shorter is better) and the emergency avoidance maneuver (higher speeds indicate more nimble handing).

    That being said, you will need to use your own judgment in assessing those scores and weighing them against the crash test results and all of the non-safety factors that are important to you. There are also lots of little safety-related features to check for, such as having daytime running headlights, height-adjustable shoulder belts, adjustable head restraints in all positions, backup camera and good visibility for the driver, etc.

  9. #8
    Carseat Crazy
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    Quote Originally Posted by oakster View Post
    We are getting a Subaru Impreza wagon...although I am already busy second-guessing that decision (we chose a color with an ivory interior...probably idiotic for a family with kids and dogs, but we were focused on the exterior color we really liked!)
    Have you gotten the Impreza yet? Do you like it?
    What car seats do you have & how is the fit?

    Did you get the Eyesight technology?

    I hadn't even considered the Impreza but then I found that with the Eyesight and AWD, it seems like it could be the safest car in my ideal price range. However, someone mentioned to me that the features that are part of the Eyesight technology were actually so distracting to the driver that they felt less safe...

  10. #9
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: "Safest car"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rm2000hg View Post
    Have you gotten the Impreza yet? Do you like it?
    What car seats do you have & how is the fit?

    Did you get the Eyesight technology?

    I hadn't even considered the Impreza but then I found that with the Eyesight and AWD, it seems like it could be the safest car in my ideal price range. However, someone mentioned to me that the features that are part of the Eyesight technology were actually so distracting to the driver that they felt less safe...
    We are getting it tomorrow (though I made an eleventh hour trip to the Toyota dealer today to test drive the Prius v one last time--such a hard call between those two!!) We hadn't initially considered it either because I figured it was too small (and maybe it will be...time will tell!) But the newer models have added quite a lot of interior space, so surprisingly it turned out to have very similar dimensions in the rear seat to larger cars like the Prius v. (Not as much cargo room, though.) We test drove with our Britax Marathon outboard and our Cybex Aton baseless in the center with an adult in the third spot, and that was fine--not something I'd want to do every day, but workable. I didn't test out the base, but did that today with the Prius v which has almost the same rear hiproom measurement (how crazy is that!), so I think it will work, but will be snug. We may replace our Marathon with something narrower if we end up having an adult back there often.

    We didn't get the Eyesight technology--had to go to a higher trim level for that, I think--but my parents have it on their Forester and like it a lot. They did say it took some time to get used to it, and it was a bit distracting until they adjusted but now they would get it again in a heartbeat. The base Impreza does have a backup camera now, though, which was a plus. We actually don't even need the AWD but liked the overall package for the price, and are hoping that the AWD will help it hold its value if we want to go to an electric car in five years or so...we'll see! The Prius v is also a great car and I am definitely still wondering if maybe we should have gone that route, but it was $3K+ more and I'm pretty certain in five years there will be many more hybrids getting better mileage on the road, so it seemed riskier from a resale perspective.

    Good luck sifting through it all!

  11. #10
    Carseat Crazy
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    Thanks!!

    Hope you're loving the car!!

  12. #11
    CPS Fanatic SavsMom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oakster View Post

    We are getting it tomorrow (though I made an eleventh hour trip to the Toyota dealer today to test drive the Prius v one last time--such a hard call between those two!!) We hadn't initially considered it either because I figured it was too small (and maybe it will be...time will tell!) But the newer models have added quite a lot of interior space, so surprisingly it turned out to have very similar dimensions in the rear seat to larger cars like the Prius v. (Not as much cargo room, though.) We test drove with our Britax Marathon outboard and our Cybex Aton baseless in the center with an adult in the third spot, and that was fine--not something I'd want to do every day, but workable. I didn't test out the base, but did that today with the Prius v which has almost the same rear hiproom measurement (how crazy is that!), so I think it will work, but will be snug. We may replace our Marathon with something narrower if we end up having an adult back there often.

    We didn't get the Eyesight technology--had to go to a higher trim level for that, I think--but my parents have it on their Forester and like it a lot. They did say it took some time to get used to it, and it was a bit distracting until they adjusted but now they would get it again in a heartbeat. The base Impreza does have a backup camera now, though, which was a plus. We actually don't even need the AWD but liked the overall package for the price, and are hoping that the AWD will help it hold its value if we want to go to an electric car in five years or so...we'll see! The Prius v is also a great car and I am definitely still wondering if maybe we should have gone that route, but it was $3K+ more and I'm pretty certain in five years there will be many more hybrids getting better mileage on the road, so it seemed riskier from a resale perspective.

    Good luck sifting through it all!
    Don't beat yourself up over the Prius V. While it is a great vehicle, it would take awhile to make up the cost difference. The Impress actually retains insane resale value - slightly better than the Prius.

    DD - 12/07 - Backless Turbo
    DS - 9/13 - Boulevard

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