Safety vs. Value
You would think paying well over $50,000 for a new car would also mean you have the safest. Even with the advancement of the automobile, especially the milestones achieved in vehicle safety, you don’t always get what you paid for.
A 2012 Mercedes Benz C class base price is around $35,000. This vehicle performed poorly in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new test, which simulates the front corner of a car colliding with another vehicle, or a tree or utility pole. Other luxury vehicles priced the same or even higher also performed poorly, such as the Lexus IS 250 and 350, and the 350 is priced well over $35,000, the Audi A4 also was rated “poor”. Other luxury plates only faired marginally well, such as the BMW 3 series and the Volkswagen CC, but are still pricey models. The Infiniti G was rated acceptable, but for $30,000, safety should be more than acceptable. Only the Acura TL and the Volvo S60 earned good ratings. The Acura and the Volvo also price in the $30,000 range. A fancy interior and a powerful engine shouldn’t be the only factor in purchasing a luxury vehicle, safety has to be important. This is a new test performed by the Institute, the institute next plans to test mid-sized, moderately priced cars, but although the test is new, luxury manufacturers owe it to the consumer to protect them, especially when paying several thousand dollars for a vehicle.
Moderately priced cars have not been tested yet, but how do they perform currently? A 2012 Ford Fusion costs around $21,000. The Fusion receives 4 out of 5 stars overall for its safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it has not been rated under the new crash test yet, these are older safety standards, but it is good to know that affordable vehicles are performing well safety-wise, at least per the old standards. A base Volkswagen Passat, priced even lower than a fusion at around $19,000 actually receives five stars for safety. A Chevrolet Cruze, receives five crash safety stars as well, and prices in between the Passat and Fusion at about $20,000. Hopefully these moderately priced vehicles will also do well in the Institutes new crash standards.
Should safety only be for those who can afford it? How do entry level priced vehicles rate? A Ford Fiesta, priced around $16,000, receives the four out of five star rating in safety tests from the NHTSA. A similarly priced Honda fit also receives four stars. A KIA Rio, which has one of the lowest retail prices on the market, at around $14,000, even receives four out of five stars; safety does not have to come at a price. Per the older NHTSA standard, however, the Audi A4 did receive 4 out of 5 stars for safety overall, but the Lexus 250/350 and Mercedes C class were only rated for rollover risk, they did however receive four out of five stars in that category.
If safety is a big factor in your purchase of a new vehicle don’t assume it will come at a premium. Many affordable cars are still rated high in safety standards per the NHTSA. Also, don’t just assume a pricey car is safe, check the ratings and make sure you are getting what you have paid for. $36,000 should buy you peace of mind.