Dear Car Talk:
I'm a 67-year-old grandmother driving my dream car -- a 2009 red Lexus IS 250 with only 52,000 miles on it. I love this car, but my husband is strongly urging me to get a new one. His rationale: Even though it is a great car and doesn't have a ton of miles, things are going to start going wrong.
I recently had to have the left side mirror replaced because something broke inside, so he may be right. He also wants me to have all the automatic braking and stuff because I am of a certain age. What do you think? Are there any sporty SUVs out there? -- Janet
Hey, there's probably stuff going wrong with him, too, Janet, but you're not trading him in yet, are you? He's mostly right, actually. Economically speaking, it's certainly cheaper to keep your old car. But older cars, by definition, are not as reliable. And if it's not a financial hardship for you, we agree with him completely on the new safety equipment. Since you bought your Lexus in 2009, all kinds of electronic-based safety systems have become common. And they're all great.
You can get city and highway speed automatic emergency braking -- so if you're distracted for a moment and don't see a car or a pedestrian in front of you, the car will alert you and then brake itself if you don't respond. That's not just good for you, in that it helps you avoid an accident and questions about "whether it's time to take away Mom's keys." It's good for the pedestrian, who was texting his girlfriend while walking through traffic. He may live to LMAO again.
There's blind-spot monitoring, so you don't have to twist your head around and pray when changing lanes. There's a device to let you know when you're drifting out of your lane, and another to let you know if there's traffic coming down your street while you're backing out of your driveway. You can get all that stuff on many new cars now. And you should. It's particularly great for older drivers whose reflexes and neck flexibility are not what they once were.
If you've liked your Lexus and want to try a sporty-ish SUV, you can try something like the Lexus NX 300. If that doesn't suit you, there's the BMW X1, the Audi Q3, the Volvo XC40, the Acura RDX, the Lincoln MKC, the Cadillac XT4, or any number of others. As you can see, small crossovers are very popular right now, so there are a lot of options.
But do be careful when you make your purchase. Many manufacturers offer the safety stuff as optional equipment. Or they'll offer some of it as standard equipment (like low-speed automatic emergency braking), and some of it only with high-priced option packages (high-speed emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring). So just be very specific about what you want, and make sure you get all of it.