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

Lajja qualifies for women's 50m rifle 3 positions final
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) Indian shooter Lajja Gauswami qualified for the women's 50-metre rifle 3 positions final at the Commonwealth Games here Tuesday. The 25-year-old Indian finished sixth with a total score of 571...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Heavy casualties reported in China knife attack
Beijing, July 29 (IANS) Dozens of civilians were killed and a number of others injured in a knife attack in China, police said Tuesday. The killings occurred Monday morning in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Mick Jagger celebrates 71st birthday
New York, July 29 (IANS) Singer Mick Jagger celebrated his 71st birthday with a family brunch at Hakkasan here. The Rolling Stones rocker celebrated his birthday on July 27 and was joined by eight people including his...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Do or die match for India eves against South Africa
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) After a massive 14-0 thrashing of Trinidad and Tobago, India eves will be looking to continuing their dominating form when they face South Africa in their next group match of the hockey...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Zoe Saldana gives support and love
Zoe Saldana is able to give her husband ''support and love'' because it is in her nature. The 'Guardians of the Galaxy' actress - who is rumored to be pregnant with twins - married artist Marco Perego last year and...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Lea Michele to guest star in Sons of Anarchy
Lea Michele is to guest star in 'Sons of Anarchy'. The 'Glee' actress has signed up for a cameo role in the final season of the biker drama and couldn't be happier to be making an appearance on her ''favorite'' program...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Miranda Kerr learned to prioritize with parenthood
Miranda Kerr credits motherhood for teaching her to prioritize. The Australian model - who has her own skincare line, Kora Organics, and is also a health coach - says since having Flynn, her three-year-old son with...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Cara Delevingne hangs out with Jack Black
Cara Delevingne has made friends with her ''idol'' Jack Black. The Burberry model has plenty of showbiz friends - including Rihanna, Rita Ora and Harry Styles - to keep her company, but now she has another name to add...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
US voices support for Modi vision ahead of Kerry's visit
Washington, July 29 (IANS) The US will seek to establish top level contact with the new Indian government as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in India Wednesday on a visit that is expected to lay the groundwork...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Harpreet wins men's 25m rapid fire pistol silver
Glasgow, July 29 (IANS) Shooter Harpreet Singh opened India's medal count Tuesday by clinching the silver in the men's 25-metre rapid fire pistol finals at the Commonwealth Games here. Australian David Chapman won the...
Read more on Sport Balla