Vehicle safety is a primary concern for new-car buyers, according to the Consumer Reports 2010 Car Brand Perception Survey. And the good news is that more models than ever are scoring high in our safety Ratings. We have compiled a detailed look at the best and worst models for vehicle safety, combining our own dynamic tests and crash-test evaluations by the government and insurance industry.
The safety chart below details the best vehicles for overall safety in a number of popular categories. We also list a few of the worst vehicles for safety, as well.
Understanding the safety ratings
When comparing safety scores, it’s important to evaluate vehicles in the same weight, most vehicles in a vehicle class have a similar weight. Even if a small car has top crash-test Ratings, for instance, it will still take the brunt of the impact if hit by a larger sedan or SUV, or even in a single vehicle crash, say against a tree.
The chart includes crash and rollover test scores from the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as well as Consumer Reports dry and wet braking performance and emergency handling.
The IIHS tests for offset frontal, side-impact, and rear-crash evaluations and grades the results as Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor. (Select from more than 300 IIHS crash test videos.) The NHTSA’s tests measure full-frontal and side-impact performance. NHTSA rollover rating denotes the risk of a rollover in a single-vehicle crash.
A dash (-) in the chart indicate no rating is available.
Beyond vehicle structure, there is often key safety equipment that helps the best models to stand out from their peers: electronic stability control (ESC) and curtain air bags. ESC helps to prevent a vehicle from skidding or sliding in a turn. Curtain air bags protect occupants’ heads in a side crash and help prevent ejection or partial ejection in a rollover.
For more details on the models, including safety equipment, click through to our model overview pages to see Ratings, reliability, fuel economy and more (available to online subscribers).
For more on safety features and resources, see our car safety section.