We know it’s important to ride in style and to get a good MPG on your vehicle, but riding safe is possibly the most important factor when deciding on a new car, so here are our 10 picks for the safest new cars. The list particularly focuses on small models, Sedans and hatchbacks, all of them manufactured last year or even hotly anticipated for 2012. However, it does feature some larger makes, for those drivers out there who need plenty of space to stretch their feet.
1. Dodge Avenger
The Chrysler-produced 2010 Dodge Avenger is priced at $4,250 to $15,850. It looks sleek, it’s got a low base price, and most importantly it’s one of the safest new cars out there. It scored five stars in the NHTSA crash-tested vehicle trials for frontal driver and passenger impact. In rollover and rear side impact it received only four stars, but the car’s qualities are also highlighted by its performance in the IIHS frontal offset crash test, where it received good ratings in absolutely all injury measures.
2. Toyota Corolla
Despite the recall controversy which recently surrounded the Toyota Corolla, it’s still one of the safest new cars out there. It’s also fairly good-looking and well-priced, as it is available for $15,865-$18,112. It’s MPG quota is 28 in the city and 35 on the highway. In terms of tests and estimated crash-inflicted damage, the safest Corolla out there is the four-door, manual five-speed sedan. Additionally, Toyota equips all their vehicles with advanced safety features such as side-curtain airbags, active head restraints and airbag occupancy sensors.
3. Kia Soul
The hotly awaited 2012 Kia Soul is a great little car – safe, very affordable (available, on average for $13,743 to $18,849) and not bad to look at either. The only area in which it’s not such a high performer is that of reliability, where it only scored 5.0 out of 10 in the J.D. Power and Associates test. Safety-wise, however, it’s packed with just about any new safety-enhancing option you can think of – ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
4. Volvo S80
Now, the 2012 Volvo S80 is definitely not a cheap car, as its price tag reads anywhere from $37,550 to $45,000. However, when it comes to the ranking of safest new cars, it’s definitely a top choice. It’s got anti-lock brakes, airbags all over the place (front-impact, side-impact and overhead), stability control, seatbelt pretensioners, anti-whiplash head restraints which react to rear collision forces and a security system that anticipates and detects unwanted vehicle intrusion.
5. Toyota Avalon
Named the number one affordable large car for 2011, the Toyota Avalon is also one of the safest new cars out there. It costs, on average, $31,917 to $34,979 and it’s ideal for you, if what you’re expecting to get out of a car is comfort and tons of space. The accommodations are in the reasonable range and the vehicle’s power is more than enough. The 2011 make was named a ‘Top Safety Pick’ by earning the highest scores in tests run by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
6. Volkswagen Passat
The 2012 Volkswagen Passat hasn’t been tested by the federal government yet, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a ‘Top Safety Pick’ for next year. It earned the ‘good’ rating in front, side and rear crash tests, as well as in tests measuring its roof strength. The standard safety features on the Passat include anti-lock brakes, hill climb assist for models with manual transmission, six airbags (dual front, dual front-side and dual side curtain front and rear).
7. Audi A6
Audi has always been good at making luxury cars and their 2012 A6 make will not disappoint in this respect – it’s already ranked second out of 16 in the 2012 ‘Luxury Large Cars’ category. In addition, it’s also listed on the safest new cars chart, with the IIHS naming it a ‘Top Safety Pick’. It’s got ABS, front, front-knee, front-side and side-curtain airbags, rear-side airbags available optionally on all trim levels and blind spot monitors with Audi Pre Sense, a system that adjusts the airbags and seatbelts by taking into account the occupants’ height among others.
8. Honda Civic
The 2012 Honda Civic is a decent affordable small car, with slight improvements to its exterior design, price tags ranging between $16,235 and $22,492 and a 38 MPG in the city, with 36 on the highway. While the 2012 hasn’t been tested for safety by either the IIHS or the U.S. federal government, 2011 tests had it named a ‘2011 Top Safety Pick’, mainly due to its electronic stability control. The 2012 will feature vehicle stability assist as a standard feature, plus ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, side curtain airbags and front airbags.
9. Ford Focus
The launch of the 2012 Ford Focus is an event to look forward to, according to reviewers across the board. It’s been extensively redesigned and also features as one of the top-ranking safest new cars. Its MPG is 26 in the city and 36 on the highway, and safety features include dual-stage driver and front passenger airbags, front-seat mounted side airbags, rear side curtain airbags, electronic stability control and tire pressure monitoring. According to several reviewers, its rear visibility has been substantially and significantly improved, with great results.
10. Chevrolet Sonic
Winner of the IIHS top safety ranking for 2012 is the new Chevy Sonic, featuring two extra airbags, as an edge to set it apart from its competitors in the subcompact category. Like all IIHS ‘Top Safety Picks,’ it features a standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, and has earned ‘good’ ratings in all four types of safety tests that the Institute performs. According to Joaquin Nuño-Whelan, Sonic vehicle line director and vehicle chief engineer, the Sonic was developed “to exceed our customers’ expectations of the subcompact market, both in the fun-to-drive performance characteristics and the segment-leading safety features.”