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Today: Which Car Is Safer For Winter Driving?

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Dear Tom and Ray:

Please settle a marital dispute. I currently drive a 2001 Jeep Cherokee 4x4 with 165,000 miles. She ain't what she used to be. I would like to get a very zippy Subaru Impreza. My husband believes this would be a poor choice for the safety of myself and my daughters.

He believes that the older Cherokee is a safer vehicle than the new Subaru because of its size and construction. I say the new safety equipment makes the newer Subaru a wiser choice. We need a 4x4 or all-wheel drive to haul our future Olympic skiers to the mountains this winter. Please advise as to which car is safer.

-- Angela



TOM: There's no question that the Subaru is safer, Angela. The 2001 Cherokee got mediocre safety ratings, and has only two air bags for the entire vehicle.

RAY: The 2012 Impreza, on the other hand, has so many bags, you'd think it just got back from a going-out-of-business sale. It's got front air bags, side bags, roof bags and knee bags. Plus, it's got anti-lock brakes, stability control and emergency brake assist. It's got a lower center of gravity, so it's less likely to flip over during an emergency maneuver, and it's got a modern all-wheel-drive system, which won't cause unpredictable handling on dry roads.

TOM: It's more structurally sound, too, with better passenger-compartment protection and door reinforcement. And because it's new, it'll be more reliable, so you and the kids won't get stranded in a blizzard someday and freeze to death.

RAY: Other than that, they're pretty much equivalent, Angela.

TOM: There is one danger with the Subaru, which your husband obviously has identified: That new set of golf clubs he had his eye on is in grave danger, since you're going to need that money for the down payment.

RAY: But this is a no-brainer. Between these two, you'd be safer in the Subaru. Get four good snow tires for the winter, and this Subaru ought to get you and your family around safely for years. 

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