The Safest Cars for Christmas 2012


Here's a sobering thought for the holidays: Traffic accidents remain one of the leading causes of untimely death in America. Besides not driving like a maniac, observing the rules of the road and exercising basic
safety precautions (buckle up out there), you can increase your odds of survival and get cheaper car insurance quotes by buying a crash-worthy car. So if your Christmas shopping list or letter to Santa this year includes a shiny new ride, make safety a top criteria. A good place to start shopping is on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) list.

Every year the IIHS, an independent non-profit,  conducts a series of rigorous tests to determine how well a particular vehicle protects its occupants in a crash. According to its website, IIHS rates vehicles as “good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.”  To earn a TOP Safety Pick, the car has to get Good marks in all tests. Ranking cars must also offer Electronic Stability Control, which minimizes the chance of rollover.

One of the most crowded categories is the small car. This year, the new Chevy Sonic made the IIHS small car list, joining popular models such as the Honda Civic and Ford Focus. The Sonic got Good marks across the board. It also gets 40MPG on the highway, making for an appealing combo of fuel efficiency and safety that’s  cheaper to drive and cheaper to insure.

Sorry Smart Car fans, but only three models made the cut for the mini-car category: the 2012 Fiat 500, and the 2011 and 2012 Ford Fiestas.

If you’re buying that new vehicle for a carpooling mom or dad, there are three new options on the IIHS list. The 2012 Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan and VW Routan are now included along with perennial list-toppers Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

And if money is no object but safety is a major concern, pop for the Audi A6, which turned in Goods on all tests in the large luxury category.

Happy Holidays and drive safely!

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