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Safe Family Cars

U.S. News & World Report
February 20, 2013
Safe Family Cars
Safe Family Cars

You don’t have to compromise on your budget to get a safe family vehicle. At every price point, and in every vehicle class, there are cars that will help your family avoid accidents and help protect them if one occurs.

Safe Small Cars and Small Crossover SUVs

Protecting your family doesn’t mean breaking the bank. The Chevrolet Cruze starts at slightly more than $17,000 and has 10 standard air bags. It’s an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick and earns five stars overall in crash tests performed by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA rates cars on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the highest. IIHS Top Safety Picks are cars that get the highest score of Good in front, side and rear crash tests, as well as roof strength tests.

While the Cruze has a roomy interior, many families like small crossover SUVs because they offer more cargo space. The Kia Sportage, which starts at $19,000, has great crash test scores. NHTSA gives front-wheel drive Sportage models a four-star overall safety rating, while all-wheel drive models earn five stars. The IIHS names the Kia Sportage a Top Safety Pick.

The Subaru Forester is another budget-friendly, safe SUV option. Starting at almost $21,300, the Forester has standard all-wheel drive. In most other small SUVs, you’ll pay extra for AWD, and it may end up costing more than the base Forester. AWD is a great safety feature if you live in an area that frequently gets bad weather. The Forester gets a four-star overall crash test rating from NHTSA and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Safe Midsize Cars and Midsize SUVS 

Many non-luxury midsize cars are safe family cars, and prices for cars in this category start at about $20,000. The Ford Fusion is an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus because it does well in the IIHS’ new small overlap front test, as well as the moderate overlap front test, side test, rollover test and rear test. The Fusion also gets a five-star overall crash test rating from NHTSA. The Fusion starts at $21,700, and while safety options add to its bottom line, some may be worth getting. Ford’s SYNC infotainment system lets you use voice commands to control the stereo and your phone. While that might sound frivolous, it will help keep your eyes on the road because you won’t need to fiddle with buttons on the dashboard. Plus, SYNC can block incoming text messages, which helps minimize distractions. The Fusion is also available with AWD for buyers who drive in inclement weather. The Fusion can also come with features like cross traffic alert, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning and active park assist, which are amenities commonly seen on more expensive upscale sedans.

Non-luxury midsize SUVs usually cost about $23,000 or more. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has a four-star overall crash test rating from NHTSA and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. It starts at almost $27,700, seats five people and is great for trips off the beaten path. If you need more passenger space, check out the Honda Pilot. It can seat eight and starts at about $29,500. The Pilot is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and NHTSA gives it an overall rating of four stars.

Safe Luxury Cars and SUVs 

If you want a luxury car that’s also family-friendly, there are many options that have lots of safety features and excellent crash test scores. Cars in this category generally cost about $30,000 or more, while luxury SUVs typically cost about $40,000 or more. The Acura TL is a roomy and luxurious midsize car with available AWD. It’s also an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus and has a four-star overall crash test rating from NHTSA. Like the TL, the Volvo S60 is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus. It receives a higher five-star overall rating from NHTSA. The S60’s optional safety features include adaptive cruise control, collision warning, driver alert control and lane departure warning.

For a safe and luxurious SUV, check out the Cadillac SRX, which offers AWD. It’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick and also receives a five-star overall safety rating from NHTSA. The Volvo XC90 is larger and more expensive than the SRX, but like the SRX, it’s also a Top Safety Pick. The XC90 also comes standard with integrated child booster seats.

Safe Minivans

Five minivans are 2013 IIHS Top Safety Picks: the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Volkswagen Routan. The Town & Country, Grand Caravan and Sienna also receive four-star overall safety ratings from NHTSA, while the Odyssey earns a five-star overall rating. Seating up to eight, the Toyota Sienna can be equipped with safety features like all-wheel drive, a blind spot monitoring system and Safety Connect, which can automatically notify emergency responders if you’re in an accident. The Chrysler Town & Country has a standard rearview camera and side curtain air bags for all three rows of seats. It can be equipped with safety features like rear cross path detection and blind spot monitoring.