The 'Safest' 2014 Cars And Crossovers

Jun 9 2014, 5:02pm CDT | by

13 'Safest' Cars For 2014

Auto safety remains a top consideration among new-car shoppers and with good reason. Though the number of traffic fatalities dropped by 2.1 percent last year and remain at historic lows, motor vehicle collisions still claimed 32,850 lives according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

To be sure, today’s cars are safer than ever, but as ongoing crash testing conducted by NHTSA and the insurance industry-supported Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) proves, some vehicles inherently do a better job in this respect than others. At that, so many autos had been performing so well in such tests both organizations recently revamped their evaluation procedures to actually make it more difficult for a given model to receive a top score.

The IIHS added a so-called small overlap frontal crash test to its evaluation arsenal that purports to mimic the effects of a collision with a tree or utility pole at 40 mph in more of glancing blow, rather than a full-frontal or offset frontal collision. Passing the new test is apparently no easy task, with many popular models that otherwise perform well in the institute’s other evaluations failing to make the grade. To earn an IIHS “Top Safety Pick” certification, a vehicle now has to not only earn top (“good”) ratings in the Institute’s moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint crash tests, but a “good” or “acceptable” ranking in the small overlap frontal crash test.

For its part, NHTSA updated its crash test ratings beginning with cars from the 2011 model year, adding side pole testing, using different sized crash-test dummies, collecting more crash data and compiling the data into a single overall score – still expressed in a five-star system – for each vehicle evaluated.

The next frontier in auto safety lies in advanced technology that’s designed to help drivers avoid, or at least minimize the effects of a forward collision. Such systems are standard on many luxury car lines and are being offered as optional equipment on a growing number of cars, trucks and crossovers at all but the lowest price points.

The most basic systems give the driver audible and visual warnings, with some able to pre-prime the brakes to full stopping power and/or tighten the seatbelts if front-facing sensors (cameras, radar or laser) determine the car is closing in on a vehicle or other obstruction in its path too quickly. But the best systems can go a step further by automatically applying the brakes if the driver isn’t reacting quickly enough. The IIHS says forward collision warning is offered as an option on nearly 40 percent of the 2014 models in its crash-test database, with over 20 percent of them offering autobrake capabilities, which is twice as many as offered the technology in 2012.

Last year the IIHS instituted a system to test the effectiveness of forward collision systems, rating them as being either “basic,” “advanced,” or “superior.”

To earn a “basic” grade, a model simply has to offer a forward collision warning system that meets performance criteria established by NHTSA. To garner an “advanced” rating a vehicle must include an autobrake function and be able to avoid a crash or reduce speeds by at least 5 mph in either of two tests conducted at 12 and 25 mph. Vehicles earning the top “superior” rating are able to successfully avoid a crash or substantially reduce a vehicle’s speed in both tests. A vehicle must offer one of these systems – on top of receiving top scores in its crash tests – to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation. Starting next year, the IIHS will up the ante by requiring an advanced or better rating for front crash prevention as one of the criteria needed to receive a Top Safety Pick+ award.

“We know that this technology is helping drivers avoid crashes,” says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer. “The advantage of autobrake is that even in cases where a crash can’t be avoided entirely, the system will reduce speed. Reducing the speed reduces the amount of damage that occurs to both the striking and struck cars and reduces injuries to people in those cars.”

Unfortunately where such systems are optional, they’re typically bundled in costly packages with other features, often related accident avoidance systems like blind spot or lane departure warning systems and adaptive cruise control. Worse, they’re usually offered only on the one or two costliest trim levels in a given vehicle line, which makes shopping for what would be one the safest possible vehicles an expensive proposition. For example, while the 2014 Chevrolet Impala sedan starts out with an MSRP of $26,860, a buyer must choose the top 2LZ model at $35,905 to obtain a forward collision mitigation system, which is bundled with adaptive cruise control in a $1,695 option package.

Still, it’s difficult to put a price on a life. For those who feel the added expense to be well worth the cost, we’ve compiled a list of 13 cars and crossovers that by all accounts should be among the safest rides on the road.

In Pictures: 13 ‘Safest’ Cars For 2014 .

We started with a list of current models the IIHS rates as being “superior” in terms of accident avoidance (but only when properly equipped as noted). We then winnowed down that list to models that were also Top Safety Picks or, if they had not yet been subjected to the IIHS’ small overlap crash test to be eligible for that status, were given five stars for occupant protection by NHTSA. We’re featuring them in the accompanying slideshow .

Among those models highlighted, three come from Volvo – the S60 and S80 luxury sedans and the XC60 crossover SUV – that feature a standard “City Safety” system that will automatically engage the brakes to avoid a rear-end collision with another vehicle at slower speeds. These models also feature optional autobrake systems that work at higher speeds, as well as a recently added Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection With Full Autobrake system that keeps an electric eye out for, and automatically brakes to avoid hitting bike riders and those on foot in around-town driving.

Other brands represented on our “safest” cars list include Buick, BMW, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru.

One caveat, however. Both IIHS and NHTSA crash tests tend to focus on the industry’s highest-volume models. As such neither the costliest luxury models nor sports cars, both of which tend to be sold in limited numbers, are represented here. Unless otherwise indicated, all ratings and prices given are for vehicles from the 2014 model year./>/>

Follow us on Forbes.com, Facebook Twitter  and Pinterest .

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
It’s January 2026. New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner gets out of his driverless car and triumphantly marches before the gathered press to introduce his prized new free agent. It’s a record-breaking contract—over...
 
 
Volkswagen AG New Coverage: Trefis Price Estimate at $51
Volkswagen AG is the second largest automaker in the world behind Toyota and slightly ahead of GM, selling 9.72 million vehicles globally in 2013. Established in 1937, Volkswagen AG, along with its 340 subsidiary...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Paris Jackson asked to reconnect with family
Los Angeles, July 26 (IANS) Late pop star Michael Jackson's daughter Paris, who has returned here from her boarding school in Utah, has been advised to reconnect with her family. After she made an attempt to take her...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
UN body concerned about impact of Gaza violence on women
United Nations, July 26 (IANS) The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Friday expressed its deep concern about the impact of the ongoing Gaza conflict on women's health and access to safe births. "Reports of the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Kate Upton always wanted curvy figure
Kate Upton has always wanted a curvaceous figure. The 'Other Woman' star, 22, admits she ''begged'' for a shapely body when she first started modeling and was overjoyed when people started praising her sexy shape....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Jenny McCarthy's son reported her to police
Jenny McCarthy's son called the police on her. The former Playboy model admits Evan, 12 - whom she has with ex-husband John Asher - once reported her for texting on her phone whilst she was driving. Speaking on Sirius...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Jennifer Lopez 'danced all night' at 45th birthday bash
Jennifer Lopez ''danced all night long'' at her 45th birthday bash in the Hamptons last night (07.24.14). The 'I Luh Ya Papi' hitmaker spent the duration of her party on the dance floor at Nammos, a Mediterranean...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Scott Disick won't drink alcohol until after birth
Scott Disick reportedly won't drink alcohol until after the birth of his third child later this year. The 31-year-old reality TV star - the long-time partner of Kourtney Kardashian - is determined to stay sober after...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Love the idea of lots of kids: Radcliffe
New York, July 26 (IANS) If Daniel Radcliffe had his way, he'd have "lots of kids" in the years to come. "Maybe because I'm an only child, I love the idea of lots of kids. But it will depend to a larger part on who I...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kyrgyz ex-president sentenced to life imprisonment
Bishkek, July 26 (IANS) A Kyrgyz military court Friday sentenced in absentia the country's former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, his brother Janysh Bakiyev and former prime minister Daniyar Usenov to life imprisonment....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Why Lily Allen goes into shutdown mode?
Los Angeles, July 26 (IANS) Singer Lily Allen has decided to go into shutdown mode after receiving criticism on a social networking site. Allen says this is her way of coping with backlash, reports mirror.co.uk. The...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
ASUS MeMO Pad 7 Intel Bay Trail Tablet Shows Serious Android On X86 Value
Low cost tablets have been a goal for a long time now but breaking the $200 mark hasn’t been easy for manufacturers, without sacrificing features and quality.  Then again, what if I told you there’s a 7-inch tablet on...
Read more on Apple Balla