For many auto enthusiasts, advancing technologies in automobiles is a thrilling prospect – faster acceleration, higher top-speeds, better efficiency (and so forth.) Manufacturers release new models annually featuring all of these impressive additions and modifications; but for many drivers, the most important feature of their vehicle is how well it defends drivers in the case that the worst happens while on the road. Safety features rank high on most drivers’ vehicle decisions, making the results of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s test scores a crucial player in consumer interest in each vehicle that rolls out of the assembly line.
Here, I take a look at three of the safest vehicles that you could ask for. These are just a few that went through my radar – if you have other notable additions, leave a comment about your most interesting find.
Tesla’s Model S
Tesla’s Model S is no stranger to praise. After being hailed as 2013’s car of the year by more than 6 major news sources – in addition to various other awards – this was clearly the year of Tesla. This completely electric car’s only mark against it is that it requires charging periodically during particularly long distances. It literally blew away the charts in benchmark tests and safety examinations by scoring higher than any other car.
In addition to excellent performance, many are hailing it as the safest car ever tested. With practically no rollover risk, drivers can safely careen through winding roads without risk. Most impressive at all? The car can take so much weight that the crushing machine intended to demonstrate the vehicle’s stability ended up breaking itself during the test. However, the base price tag stands at $62,000, making it inaccessible for some budgets.
Volvo made some head spins with new safety features on their new compact crossover SUV, the XC60. This includes enhanced traction control, dynamic stability, greater roll control, and hill descent control. It incorporates side-impact and whiplash protection systems along with curtained airbags to ensure that drivers and passengers experience an absolutely minimized risk of personal injury. Compared to other vehicles in its class, it experiences about a quarter fewer insurance claims to property damage and collisions while halving the number of claims of bodily injury.
Certainly a luxury model, the XC60 is still plenty more affordable than the Tesla. It offers many security features that even other vehicles in the same class and price range do not even include as options. The 2014 promises to make the XC60 sleeker than ever with thorough cosmetic updates, as well a dashboard touch-screen and new interior trims.
It can be easy to forget that safety features aren’t necessarily a product of our modern age. Smart design for risk reduction has been a feature of many experimental car designs beginning since the 60’s, though safety may not have been always as appreciated as it is these days. For example, take the Minicar RSV. Completed circa 1980, this concept car was created personally by the NHTSA in order to demonstrate the epitome of safe design.
In total, only fourteen of these models were created, and mostly for the purposes of demonstrating at shows and on television. Ironically, it wasn’t a road test or accident that brought the downfall of the RSV, but instead it was because the government pulled the plug on the project in 1991. Two have since been recovered, one of which was in a mostly usable state to allow for further examination.
Austin Crowley is a travel writer from the Southern US who enjoys writing about travelling and finances when he isn’t recounting his travels. He currently writes with local travel insurance providers from Charlotte, North Carolina. If you’re concerned about travelling safely in the Southern states, consider checking out a Charlotte insurance agency.