Safety First: Cars With Top Crash Protection And Standard Auto-Braking

Who says a safer car has to be expensive? The Toyota Corolla aces all of the IIHS’ crash tests and comes standard with a top-rated forward-collision mitigation system, yet starts at just $18,500.

New-car safety remains a prime shopping consideration among new vehicle buyers – hey, nobody wants to drive a death trap – and to be sure, today’s cars are safer than ever, with many offering the latest high-tech accident avoidance features to add yet another layer of protection.

The most significant of these latter-day active safety features is forward-collision mitigation. Alternatively known as forward auto-braking, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that such systems can reduce rear-end collisions by 40%, based on a study of U.S. police-reported crash data, and cut injuries incurred in situations when a crash is inevitable by 30%.

A growing number of models now offer the technology, though it’s typically still an optional feature, with availability most often being limited to the one or two highest trim levels in a given model line; at that it’s usually bundled with other features you may not otherwise need or want in costly option packages. Fortunately, that’s changing. Twenty major automakers have agreed to equip most, if not all of their models with forward crash mitigation by 2022, with manufacturers like Toyota/Lexus already leading the charge.

Though standard forward auto-braking remains largely limited to costlier luxury cars these days (and a fewer number of crossover SUVs), it’s now included across the line on a few lower-priced vehicles, most notably the $18,500 Toyota Corolla compact sedan.

Still, safety-minded shoppers are forced to dig deep into a given model’s specs chart and price list to determine this important safety feature’s availability and what it costs. And at that, not all auto-braking systems perform equally well.

In addition to crash-testing new vehicles, the IIHS evaluates new-vehicles’ forward collision mitigation systems and rates them according to their effectiveness. Cars that only offer a collision warning system that alerts the driver to a possible crash situation are rated as “Basic” in this regard. To garner an “Advanced” rating a vehicle must include an auto-braking function that enables the car to avoid a crash or reduce speeds by at least 5 mph in either of two tests conducted at 12 and 25 mph. Vehicles earning the top “Superior” rating can successfully avoid a crash or substantially reduce a vehicle’s speed in both tests.

We scoured the latest IIHS safety ratings, to compile the following list of 19 cars and crossover SUVs from the 2017 model year that not only obtain top (“Good”) marks in each of the organization’s five crash tests – including front, side, roof strength, head restraint performance, and the more-recently added small overlap frontal test – but come standard with “Superior-rated” forward crash protection systems.

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