Shopping Guide for the Safety Conscious

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 22, 2018

Dear Car Talk:

I am not very interested in cars, although I enjoy your column every week (it's always funny). I have a 5-year-old Hyundai Sonata. Given all of the recent improvements in safety technology that you regularly highlight in your column, do you have a recommendation for a new or relatively new used car that has all of the updated safety technology at a reasonable price? Make and model don't matter very much to me (as I said, I drive a Hyundai Sonata). Thanks. -- Steve

It's still a little early to see the best modern safety features on used cars. You might find a demo or a car returned from a short lease, but this stuff just hasn't been in circulation very long yet.

Fortunately, the technology is increasingly available (at least as options) on modestly priced cars. If you Google "IIHS Top Safety Picks," you'll find this year's Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's list of cars that have the good stuff.

For instance, on the list, you'll find certain versions of the 2018 Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla and Prius, and the new Hyundai Sonata, by the way.

If possible, you want what they call a "Top Safety Pick Plus," which is the IIHS's top rating for overall active and passive safety.

Whether you look for a new or used car, you want to make absolutely certain that you get the following equipment:

  • Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking (both city and highway speed).
  • Blind-spot monitoring.
  • Rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Lane departure warning.

We also recommend the optional butt scratcher, but if you have to give up something to afford the safety stuff, you can pass on that and do it manually. Good luck, Steve.

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