Best Cars to Crash In
Great safety engineering can help fight the dangerous physics of auto accidents.
When it comes to automobiles, there are no happy accidents. Traffic-jam fender benders can wreck your day, and high-speed highway collisions can threaten your life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after maladies such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's, diabetes and pneumonia, car crashes are the leading cause of death in the United States. In 2009, 33,808 people died in motor-vehicle collisions — almost twice the number of people killed in homicides. The good news is that traffic fatalities have been falling in the past two decades and are now at their lowest levels since 1949, despite a significant increase in the number of vehicle miles traveled.
That's because cars are safer than they've ever been. Two years ago, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety demonstrated the incredible advances in crash-protection technology over the past 50 years by crashing a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu into each other in a 40-mph frontal collision. "Basically, the measurements from the crash dummy inside the Malibu indicate that a person could possibly walk away from that crash," says David Zuby, chief research officer at the IIHS, "whereas the dummy inside the '59 Bel Air is dead."
Best vehicles for a frontal collision:
Compact car: Chevrolet Cruze, starting at $16,525; IIHS Top Safety Pick; NHTSA 5-star frontal crash rating; standard stability control.
Midsize car: Buick LaCrosse, starting at $27,130; IIHS Top Safety Pick; NHTSA 5-star frontal crash rating; standard stability control.
Best vehicles for a side-impact collision:
Compact car: Chevrolet Cruze, starting at $16,525; IIHS Top Safety Pick; NHTSA 5-star side-impact rating; standard front and rear side-impact airbags, plus side-curtain airbags; standard stability control.
SUV: Chevrolet Traverse, starting at $29,370; IIHS Top Safety Pick; NHTSA 5-star side-impact rating; standard side-impact and side-curtain airbags; standard stability control.
Full lists at link