Best Car-Safety Performance

Good braking and handling can help you avoid an accident

2017 Porsche 718 Boxster in AM Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

A vehicle with good braking and emergency handling can help you avoid an accident. Typically, smaller, sportier vehicles perform well in these tests and larger trucks are slower to maneuver.

Consumer Reports’ crucial emergency driving tests include an avoidance maneuver and a series of at-the-limit cornering assessments around a handling course—a snaking track loop.

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The avoidance maneuver is a “path-following test” in which the driver pilots the car down a lane marked off by traffic cones with a quick left-right-left sequence. That simulates swerving to avoid an obstacle in the road, then returning to the original lane to avoid oncoming traffic. The car threads through the course, without throttle or brakes, at ever-higher speeds until it can’t get through without hitting any cones.

When testing on-limit handling, drivers push the car to and beyond its limits of cornering capabilities to simulate entering a corner too quickly. Test engineers evaluate how controllable, secure, and forgiving—or not—the car is.

Our experts also perform a series of brake tests from 60 to 0 mph on wet and dry pavement to measure performance. The tested car is rigged with a highly accurate GPS-based data-acquisition device that records precise speeds, stopping times, and distances. We also judge brake-pedal modulation, the feel of the pedal underfoot during braking actions, and how easy it is to slow the car smoothly.

Here are the highs and lows in our dry-braking test (from 60 mph) and avoidance maneuver. In the braking test, highest scores go to the shortest stopping distance. In the avoidance maneuver, the higher the speed through the course, the better.

Learn more about how Consumer Reports tests cars.

Best and Worst Braking

2020 Toyota Supra & 2019 BMW Z4
The BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra.

Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

Worst Braking

Make & Model
Stopping Distance, Feet
Ford F-250 Lariat (diesel)155

Best and Worst Avoidance Maneuver

Talking Cars 333
Chevrolet Corvette

Photo: Consumer Reports Photo: Consumer Reports

Worst Avoidance Performance

Make & Model
Speed, mph
Toyota Tacoma SR546.0

Best and Worst New Cars

Lists to help narrow down your choices.

Avoidance Maneuver Testing

How important is car handling when it comes to emergency maneuvering? “Consumer 101” TV show host Jack Rico joins Consumer Reports’ experts at the test track to find out.

Jeff S. Bartlett

A New England native, I have piloted a wide variety of vehicles, from a Segway to an aircraft carrier. All told, I have driven thousands of vehicles—many on race tracks across the globe. Today, that experience and passion are harnessed at the CR Auto Test Center to empower consumers. And if some tires must be sacrificed in the pursuit of truth, so be it. Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSBartlett).