What to Read Next

Safest Coupes

U.S. News & World Report
February 20, 2013
Luxury Coupes
Luxury Coupes

Coupes can sacrifice function for form, as their attractive exterior styling takes the place of interior space and utility. When choosing a coupe, you should not have to compromise safety. Here’s what to look for when researching safety for your next new coupe.

Drive Safe

With a lower stance and raked rooflines that may sacrifice visibility in favor of design, coupes frequently lack the commanding view of the road that’s offered in the average SUV. While a low center of gravity may improve cornering ability, pushing a vehicle too far could result in a loss of traction, which can put the driver and any passengers in the car at risk.

You might want a coupe for its sporty performance, but make sure that you always drive within the limits of your skills, the road conditions and the car’s abilities. Today’s coupes have high-tech safety features and are safer than they’ve ever been. However, the driver is still the single most important safety feature any car has.

Crash Test Ratings

Regardless of the vehicle that you plan to buy, there are two invaluable resources that you should look to first for checking vehicle safety ratings: the non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

IIHS scores vehicles in front, side and rear crash tests, as well as roof strength tests that simulate rollovers. Vehicles are then given a rating of Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor in each of the tests. Vehicles that earn a top score of Good in all four categories are awarded Top Safety Pick status. The Scion tC and the Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe receive this honor for 2013 for their crash-worthiness.

NHTSA differs by using a five-star rating system, with more stars meaning the car performed better in crash tests. NHTSA subjects vehicles to front and side crash tests and rollover risk tests, with a five-star maximum rating for each category. Based on those scores, the car is then given an overall rating. The Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Scion tC are coupes that scored well in NHTSA tests.

Finding the safest coupe based on crash test ratings can be a difficult task, because many of them have not been tested by the IIHS or NHTSA. If the coupe you’re researching doesn’t have any crash test ratings or scores, you can check to see if there is a sedan counterpart, which is usually the model that is tested by the IIHS and NHTSA. While the sedan’s scores aren’t an exact indicator of how the coupe would do in an accident, they can give you a rough idea of a coupe’s crash-worthiness.

Key Safety Features

Despite the nimble nature of most modern coupes, their lower ground clearances, as well as rear-wheel drive setups on some models, often make them less driver-friendly in inclement conditions. However, automakers are including safety features that will ease driving maneuvers if the going gets tough.

The goal of many safety systems is to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle, and features such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and traction control work wonders for coupes. Most new vehicles are equipped with these features that help the driver stay in control by avoiding a skid, which could cause the car to spin off the road. Buying a coupe with these features not only reduces the chances of a skid, it also means that if you do lose traction, you’ll be able to regain it more easily.

Some coupes also offer all-wheel drive, which can send power to all four wheels instead of two. The Audi A5 has standard all-wheel drive, and the Cadillac CTS Coupe has all-wheel drive as an option. BMW vehicles, such as the 1-Series and 3-Series, have all-wheel drive on models designated xDrive. The Infiniti G37x Coupe and Nissan GT-R also have standard all-wheel drive.

Vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz E350 have an optional lane keeping assist feature that is growing popular among new vehicles. This system helps you stay in your lane with cameras that can track where the markings are on the pavement and detect if the car is traveling out of its lane. If needed, it will also apply the brakes on one side of the vehicle until the car gets back into the correct lane. 

Another concern for many coupe buyers is visibility, since thick rear pillars often create blind spots. These blind spots can be a concern not only during highway driving, but also during parking maneuvers when rear visibility could be compromised. Be on the lookout for coupes that feature integrated blind spot mirrors, like the Ford Mustang, or a blind spot monitoring system. Many coupes are also available with a backup camera or rear parking sensors that alert the driver with an audible warning if an obstruction is present.