The Safest Cars And SUVs To Survive A Crash

As a father of two young kids, I've done hours of research understanding the safest cars and SUVs to survive a crash. Nothing is more precious than my children and my spouse.

You can be the safest driver on the road and still get into an an accident. As a result, there is no shame in getting a large, safer vehicle to protect you and your family.

Did you know that despite all the technological advancements in car safety, the car accident death rate had the highest rate of increase in 50 years in 2018 and 2019?

Lower gas prices (until 2022) and a better economy are two reasons cited for more driving and more dying on the road. But, the other culprit is distracted driving due to our damn mobile phones. We're texting, searching for new Pandora stations, and surfing the web while driving more than ever before.

Right before the pandemic began, within three months, I witnessed four accidents and experienced three close calls. One accident was strange because two cars stopped at a four-way intersection with stop signs. But the Audi Q5 SUV then proceeded to plow into the Toyota Prius' front passenger door!

I was rolling up to the intersection when the accident happened. The woman driving the Audi wasn't aware of the Prius to her left because she was either in a hurry or looking at her phone.

Even though traffic and accidents are way down during the pandemic, I still had two close calls. The first was when a truck blasted through a stop sign when I had gone forward after waiting my turn. The other was a driver swerving into my right lane. I suspect both were distracted by their cell phones!

Crash Statistics To Understand The Safest Cars

Take a look at the following crash statistics in America and the world according to the Association For Safe International Road Travel for 2022.

Annual United States Road Crash Statistics

  • Over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year
  • An additional 2.35 million are injured or disabled
  • Over 1,600 children under 15 years of age die each year
  • Nearly 8,000 people are killed in crashes involving drivers ages 16-20
  • Road crashes cost the U.S. $230.6 billion per year or an average of $820 per person
  • Road crashes are the single greatest annual cause of death of healthy U.S. citizens traveling abroad

Annual Global Road Crash Statistics

  • Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day.
  • An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled.
  • More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among young adults ages 15-44.
  • Road traffic crashes rank as the 9th leading cause of death and account for 2.2% of all deaths globally.
  • Road crashes are the leading cause of death among young people ages 15-29, and the second leading cause of death worldwide amongst young people ages 5-14.
  • Each year nearly 400,000 people under 25 die on the world's roads, on average over 1,000 a day.
  • Over 90% of all road fatalities occur in low and middle-income countries, which have less than half of the world's vehicles.
  • Road crashes cost USD $518 billion globally, costing individual countries 1-2% of their annual GDP.
  • Road crashes cost low and middle-income countries USD $65 billion annually, exceeding the total amount received in developmental assistance.
  • Unless action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.

I love cars, but I love my life even more. The two easiest things a driver can do are: 1) slow down, and 2) stop looking at or talking on your mobile phone. If you're a parent, I'd also consider not allowing your teenager to drive or get into a car with another teenage driver.

For those of you who also value the importance of safety, especially if you have a baby or kids, I wrote this post for you. Let's look at the safest cars and SUVs and why we should spend up for them.

Car Safety Logic: Bigger, Thicker, Safer

If you were to put these two precious guys:

Car safety - The Safest Cars And SUVs To Survive A Crash

into this:

safest vehicles for your baby - The Safest Cars And SUVs To Survive A Crash

I firmly believe they'd have a higher chance of surviving a car accident than if they got hit in this:

Safest cars for babies and kids

Unfortunately, none of us are allowed to legally drive a tank around town. Therefore, we most look for the largest vehicle possible that's also practical to safeguard our loved ones!

The best time to own the nicest car you can afford is when you have kids. Your duty as a parent is to protect your children from reckless drivers and you. After the kids are out of the house should you save money on a car or buy your race car.

Safety According To The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS)

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is the authority in vehicle safety in America. Here's what they have to say about what to look for in a car for safety.

Frontal crashworthiness

Look for good ratings in frontal crash tests. Most newer models earn top marks for frontal crashworthiness in the federal government's 35 mph test head-on into a rigid barrier and the IIHS 40 mph moderate overlap test into a deformable barrier.

Many but not all late-model vehicles earn acceptable or good ratings from IIHS for protection in a small overlap front crash.

Side crashworthiness

Choose a vehicle with good side ratings plus side airbags that protect your head. IIHS and NHTSA rate models based on tests that simulate front-into-side crashes. The tests represent different side-impact dangers.

Drivers of vehicles with good ratings in the IIHS side-barrier test are 70 percent less likely to die in a driver-side crash compared with drivers in poorly rated vehicles. The majority of 2008 and newer models have side airbags as standard equipment.

Roof strength

Look for a strong roof. IIHS rates roof strength to help consumers pick vehicles with roofs that will hold up in a rollover crash. Strong roofs reduce the risk of fatal or incapacitating injury in a rollover. Ratings began with 2008-09 models.

Head restraints

Pick a model with a good seat/head restraint rating to reduce whiplash injuries in a rear-end collision. Vehicles with seat/head restraint combinations rated good by IIHS have 15 percent fewer insurance claims for neck injuries than vehicles with poor ratings.

You can help increase protection by adjusting the head restraint to correctly fit your head.

Electronic stability control

Buy a vehicle with ESC. It's standard on 2012 and newer models and available on many earlier ones. An extension of antilock brake technology, ESC engages automatically to help drivers maintain control on curves and slippery roads.

ESC lowers the risk of a fatal single-vehicle crash by about half and the risk of a fatal rollover by as much as 80 percent.

Related: Should You Buy An Electrical Vehicle?

Car Weight

The safest cars typically weigh between 3,500 lbs. and 4,500 lbs, the range in which a vehicle remains safe in collisions with larger vehicles such as full-size SUVs while limiting additional threats to drivers of smaller, lighter vehicles such as compact cars. 

Smaller, lighter vehicles generally offer less protection than larger, heavier ones. People in lighter vehicles also experience higher crash forces when struck by heavier vehicles.

Recalls

Check the NHTSA site for recalls before buying, and make sure repairs are made.

I wanted to highlight what the IIHS said just in case you don't believe in my simple picture logic above. I'm sure there are some of you who object to bigger vehicles because you want to save the planet.

But if you really wanted to save the planet, you wouldn't drive a vehicle at all! You'd only walk, barefoot. You'd also go into a save the planet occupation and live naked in the woods to reduce your carbon footprint.

This article is about saving a passenger's life in an auto accident.

The Safest Cars To Buy And SUVs To Buy

Under the overarching premise that bigger is safer, let's go through some various top-ranked vehicles for safety according to various publications.

IIHS – Top 5 Safest Cars For Under $30,000

Toyota Avalon Sedan

Toyota RAV4 Mini-SUV

Nissan Maxima Sedan

Volkswagen Passat Sedan

Chrysler 200

Autobytel – Safest Vehicles For Under $40,000

Honda Odyssey Minivan

Hyundai Genesis Sedan

Toyota Highlander SUV

Volvo S60 Sedan

Volvo XC60

The Car Crash Detective – The Top Safest Cars By Side Impact

Some cars provide a satisfying *thunk* when you close their doors. Other cars, not so much. The thunk sound is what you need to hear when buying a safe car because side impacts are the most likely to be fatal. The simple logic is that there's less material between you and the car that t-bones you compared to front and rear impact collisions.

The Crash Detective writes, “That’s what this list is based on. Every cm between you and a life-ending amount of energy is a life-preserving cm of survival space. Let’s see who’s doing the best job at it right now. For brevity’s sake, I’ll list the top 10 cars I could find.”

24 cm – 2010-2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan (e.g., E 350).

22 cm – 2015 Subaru Outback.

22 cm – 2015, 2016 Volkswagen Golf / GTI.

21 cm – 2014, 2015 Fiat 500L.

20.5 cm – 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan (e.g., C 400).

19.5 cm – 2010-2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe.

19.5 cm – 2015 Subaru Legacy.

19 cm – 

2011-2015 BMW 5 Series (e.g., 528i).

2012-2016 Audi A6.

2015 Acura TLX.19 cm – 2013-2015 Dodge Dart.

US News & World Report – Best Luxury Midsize SUVs 2023

Tesla Model X

Audi Q7

Safest cars to buy to protect yourself in a crash. The Honda Fit is not one of them.
Gonna be tough to give up Rhino!

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

BMW X5

Lexus RX 350

Lexus RX Hybrid

Acura MDX

Range Rover Sport

Lincoln MDX

Volvo XC 90

Cadillac XT5

Mercedes GLE

BMW X6

Infiniti Q60

IIHS – Top Safety Picks For All Vehicle Types 2023

The Safest Cars For 2017 By IIHS

It's Worth Driving The Safest Car Or SUV Possible

You may be the safest driver in the world, but that won't stop a distracted idiot from t-boning you to the hospital.

Slow down, stay alert, and wait to respond to a text message until after you've arrived at your destination.

After extensive online and offline research, I've decided to buy a Range Rover Sport. It's a safe SUV that is also fully tax-deductible for my business since it's over 6,000 pounds.

I love driving my Range Rover Sport. It looks good and is really fun to drive. Most importantly, it's a safe SUV when driving my family around.

Safest SUV to survive a crash - Range Rover Sport

Related: The 1/10th Rule Of Car Buying You Must Follow

Read The Best Book On Becoming Rich, Happy, And Free

If you want to read the best book on achieving financial freedom sooner, pick up my instant Wall Street Journal bestseller, Buy This, Not That: How to Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. BTNT is jam-packed with all my insights after spending 30 years working in, studying, and writing about personal finance. 

Building wealth is only a part of the equation. Consistently making optimal decisions on some of life's biggest dilemmas is the other. My book helps you minimize regret and live a more purposeful life as you build more passive income.

BTNT will be the best personal finance book you will ever read. You can buy a copy on Amazon today. The richest people in the world are always reading and always learning new things. Learn from those who are already where you want to go.

Buy This Not That Book Best Seller On Amazon

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. I help people get rich and live the lifestyles they want. 

161 thoughts on “The Safest Cars And SUVs To Survive A Crash”

  1. Range Rover sport apparently has air suspension. I wouldn’t drive a vehicle with air suspension because it is orders of magnitude less reliable than coil suspension. For instance my brother had to slow way down and pull his Range Rover off the interstate because the pump overheated, plus there were leaks in the air supply lines and struts creating constant headaches and danger until he replaced the air suspension with a coil over conversion kit. I’d get the coilover kit if I had a vehicle that already had air suspension.

  2. RickBlaine1941

    Another way to look at the death statistics is to note that more than twice as many Americans have died in road accidents in the last 125 years as have died in wars in the last 250. We all have family members who have killed on the road. And don’t overlook all the motorcyclists who have died/been injured by inattentive/distracted drivers making left hand turns. Automobiles are the second worst invention of the twentieth century.

  3. My 2006 Prius with 688,000 miles just took one for the team on oct 21 2022. Head on collision with a semi at 65 mph. I was in the Prius. My passenger walked away with no injuries. I only have minimal injuries. I have a hairline fracture in my hip socket and a broken pinky toe and a bunch of torn muscles. I should not have walked away from that accident. Neither should my passenger have. I am a firm believer in the Toyota safety system. Everybody made jokes about my car being a tiny little tin can. If I would’ve been in any other one of my vehicles, I wouldn’t have walked away, so far as I’m concerned that second generation Prius is a win.

  4. I’m not sure why your article calls the Rav4 a “mini” SUV. It’s not even a compact SUV. It’s an SUV.

  5. Saw a Subaru Forester get clipped on the freeway both cars flipped into the air and rolled over multiple times right in front of me. It looked like something from a James Bond movie. When I ran up to the Subaru Forester to help I thought i was going to see a nightmare but turns out the Subaru Forester had deployed every single airbag up its sleeves because I couldn’t even find the driver. She eventually wiggled her way out of the cloud of airbags and didnt have a single scratch on her! I went home and first thing I did was buy a Dash camera online. True Story. The car that hit her had 2 teens a brother and sister that were physically fighting and the brother grabbed the steering wheel and pulled it while the sister was driving. hella stupid.

  6. We owned a 2007 Volvo XC90 and were involved in a rollover going about 45 mph. On a dirt road, no sign saying turn was upcoming (although there was one going the opposite way, go figure). Anyway, we had our 4 kids in the car (8, 6, 3, and 1 yr old), with one sitting in the 3rd row seat. No injuries, side tires had popped as it went from hard dirt to soft almost like sand (ditch). We only rolled once and landed on our top. Again, no injuries, kids were scared, crying and weren’t very happy, but we all survived. I loved our Volvo and will be buying another. Safety vice luxury are my #1.

  7. Hi , 9-1-20 I was rear ended by a Honda pilot 2007 , I had a 2015 vw tiguan, i was on the interstate at a slowdown going about 65 , the person hit me at 85ish , my back windshield bust out , the back of my car crumbled up and i am now unable to open the pull up trunk. I am bruised , sore but alive. I normally would of had my 16 year old daughter in passenger seat and 14 year old daughter in back seat behind passenger, but luckily i was alone that day… I do know my car saved my life but what if my two daughters were in there I need a car that can sustain all sides of impact , im so nervous to buy the WRONG CAR/SUV/TRUCK now ….please help me in choosing a car that will keep my precious family safe from any angle at a high rate of speed impact. Im in los angeles and ALWAYS on the freeway, im a VERY GOOD DRIVER, but of course los angeles has many many impatient people. Please help me.

    1. Mathew Heinrich Hilbing

      Get a full size General Motors or Ford SUV like a Suburban or Expedition Max. They will cost a fair amount in fuel but consider that an insurance policy premium that gives you your life, not money to your beneficiaries.

  8. My God people with the white bees, black bees, honey bees, lesbees and everything, everyone else in betweenbees way back today to 150 years ago and or more on, we’re supposed to talk about to our babies are grandbabies and everybody else, were supposed to take care of, in & our future and forward not just ourselves. Get with it we all have to take care of each other love everyone and take care of each other and that includes our cars so make our car safe …..you know.. Ford, Chevy, Subaru, Audi all the automakers come on.. let’s take care of our future not yourselves. You know it comes from us…US people. All of us people don’t matter what color we are everyone in this world. You our supposed to take care of us and care FOR everyone in OUR world. So who is supposed to BE our #1safety Auto manufacturer? Was Ford. Was it Chevy? Was it GMC, was it supposed to be Subaru???? come on who was supposed to take care of us. Aren’t we the ones who are supposed to be taken care, who cares if we are black, brown, white, abalone, Cherokee or any other Indian nation you can name. We are supposed to be take care and help each other that’s what always the Ford and Chevy always did so that’s why my daddy always bought a Ford. That’s why I still have a Ford sitting in my driveway l’m 65. My son has a Chevy it needs some work but he still has it he’s 40. Hay like this a Ford and Chevy USA going tough. So help with all of our friends an families keep USA GOING STRONG!!!!!!

  9. Car Tailing

    Hi, this article helps a lot since a lot of drivers got into more accidents lately. I’d like to know your insight, some roads have horrible hazards such as too many potholes, debris, no safe areas to pull over to the side of the road, can’t see around or over curves, hills, & parked cars, so what car model is best that would overcome the potholes smoothly and with no problem? Thanks!

  10. This week I rear ended a Tesla X with my Audi A4. The X was like hitting a block wall, and it sustained very little damage. In fact it barely moved. Meanwhile my beautiful A4 was totalled as the whole front end was demolished. The radiator was pushed back about a foot into the engine compartment. Will never forget my hood crumpling like an accordian in front of me. Good thing is that no one was hurt.

    1. That’s what a safe car is supposed to. It’s called a crumple zone and it takes the transfer of forces away from the occupants. A car that does not crumple is LESS safe, and, as such, the transfer of forces is more likely to kill you.

      1. This has nothing to do with how strong or safe your car is. It has everything to do with the fact that in a rear-ending accident the hitter dives under the car in front of him/ her. As a result the damage to the car in front is minimal (mostly below the bumper) while the damage on the hitter is extensive and expensive.

        1. Wrong. Please do your research before arrogantly replying with misinformation.

          For example, how is a SUV going to “dive” under a sedan?

          Google is your friend. Start by typing in “crumple zones”. A front end is going to crumple more than a rear end because A) The front end has more crumple zones, and B) rear ended vehicles are typically not moving towards the collision at the moment of impact. So, there is less force being transferred than compared to something like a head on collision between two moving vehicles.

          1. Partcrash is right, you are wrong… speaking of ignorant… I am a LT for the local FD (#24) here in Orlando. I can guarantee you I have seen hundreds of cases that Partcrash is speaking of. Please figure out the FACTS before YOU speak, Adam

            1. Jim T asks for your opinion and advice.
              Got rear ended by a teen driver yesterday while stopped in traffic on a local roadway. My wife and I in our 2014 Ford Expedition. She was driving an off road Jeep and was probably on her cell texting since she never braked;no skid marks. Her Jeep sustained some damage to the front lower carriage but nothing else. Our Exp was totally destroyed from the rear to the second row seats; the impact pushed our Exp into a small suv in front of us; it sustained minimal damage. Our front end / hood etc., folded but not the passenger compartment
              So what vehicle do any of you recommend that would sustain a straight on rear end collision? If I would have had passengers in the second row seats, they might not be with us today. So put aside all of your guessing and give me an educated and researched answer. Thanks.

          2. Christina Triplett

            My 2007 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT2 was hit in the back passenger tire at 70MPH by a 1989 Ford F-150. My 5yr old daughter was in the 3d row seat on that side That took the direct impact. Myself in the front and my 10yr old and 3 month old in the 2nd row. The truck looked like a bomb exploded on it there was no front end to the driver windshield. He was unharmed. My Yukon had the tire and entire rear end and axle knocked out from under it and the back end was on the ground. Barely any Visiual damage to the body at all. The impact went UNDER the vehicle when he hit me in the tire area. My child in the impact zone only suffered facial abrasions from her cheek smacking the side of the wheel weld area of the interior. The kids were screaming and terrified but thank god No one was injured. The state trooper said ANY other vehicle in that impact my daughter would have been dead.

            1. No. The Trooper was just comforting you. I’m very sorry you were in an accident, but Yukon’s are far from the safest SUV. The Model X for example would protect occupants for better from any angle of impact. The German, Sweeds, and Japanese build safer Vehicles in general.

              1. Coming from a Toyota owner, any of those smaller vehicles you are referring to would not have stood up to a Ford F150 at 70mph. In a multi-vehicle crash, mass matters, and platform matters, the 2007 Yukon is body-on-frame, and a F150 would have most likely destroyed the rear of those unibody vehicles. As the post author stated, the impact was to the wheel which meant the forces were directed at the frame. In a solo crash when you can account for just the vehicle safety cages and unibody design, you can propose such an argument even though is still a loose argument, but not this scenario.

  11. Our beautiful clean-as-a-whistle 2007 Honda Odyssey just saved our family’s lives!
    Rearended at a red light by a 2 ton Ram driven by a grossly negligent adult male.
    Our minivan was totaled, it fell apart, as it was built to do, and kept those in the back safe.
    That van could be parked on a dime and leave a nickel for change! 6’+ husband easily fit. Kids, camping equipment, snow, bikes, cross-country trips, city driving (with fantastic 6 gear transmission aka downshifting)…it did it all! We even moved an in-law’s piano in it. It couldn’t be beat.
    Remember, as kids get older you’ll also be transporting their friends, aka other parents’ precious cargo, so a minivan is ideal. Don’t forget all the baby equipment, later kid’s sports equipment, too!
    This comment may be late, but better late than never.
    I am ready to buy a tank to keep my family safe after that ‘pick-up’ hit. BTW, we were left standing next to our totaled van while the idiot drove away with a bent front bumper.
    YEP, GONNA BUY ME A TANK!!!!! It won’t be pretty, or have luxury features the other moms have, but my husband and children are my precious, irreplaceable, cargo and I have now been turned into a mama bear.
    Forget the ridiculous walk, bike, ride recommendations. That is NOT REAL life for most families. Not everyone has the option to live in an urban location.
    Yes, we all wish for the ‘ideal’ but as long as driving, at all, anywhere, is a necessity, well, I’m on my way to buy a tank, or, at least, another Honda Odyssey.

    So, Financial Samurai, what did you buy?

    Wishing you and your young family the safest of travels, and the most wonderful of on-the-road memories! :)

    1. George Charres

      Glad to hear you’re safe. My 2014 Honda civic was just rear ended while stopped at an intersection. The driver was on his phone doing around 50mph… I walked away with not a scratch and the Toyota was destroyed. Lucky , sure..but the Honda took it like a champ.. absolutely getting another Honda.

      1. Hi George,
        How much damage was done to your car?
        I own a 2015 Civic and I love it, however I always have my 2 year old son in the backseat.
        On Thanksgiving, I was driving a Jeep Cherokee and was rear ended by a drunk driver. My toddler and I were fine, but I am now Terrified to drive my civic.

  12. David croall

    The answer to all your questions is so simple a 2 year old could tell you. Look at it the way an educated person would and study the car safety/industry from its inception and see what safety meant to all the big makers. Through your research you will find what I’ve always known VOLVO makes the safest cars in the world period end of story because safety is volvos story. I won’t bore u moms with words like boron steel and inventors of that thing called a seatbelt or sips
    Just drive a Volvo Volvo for life. Now I guess I’ll wait for some idiot to tell me how wrong I’m for those of you who think a Subaru is a good car in a crash I say u have never crashed one visit your local body shop where one is totaled feel the cheap steel rip apart doors etc. Mechanics hate fixing anything inside a Volvo door cause they have to work around boron steel rods awful I no. I will add this from my body shop years BMW can take a head on crash maybe better than any car roofs suck in rollovers side impact second to volvo have not seen thinner sheet metal than on those jeeps absolute junk. One guy was right on here saying u r looking at iihs numbers etc etc. All wrong stats of this and that aren’t going to save your life so quit looking at all that crap technically they say the Chevy 1500 extended cab is the worst car in the world to be in a crash does this make any sense? It’s because the amount of them on the road and an active/work type lifestyle of such owners this vehicle sees a lot of crashes not the truck being unsafe but will note my volvo only weighs 400 pds. Less than that truck.

      1. Jeff Flotter

        As a mechanic. I have to say how bad volvos are. I owned a c70 convertible one of their premium vehicles. Piece of junk. Had a windshield visor that constantly broke. At $270 replacment cost. The 5 cylinder engine is rough. And the rubber disenigrated from shock tower bushings to radio knobs that ended up like bubble gum. And as a mechanic the Volvo uses proprietary computer code only accessible from Volvo. So at times I had to use the local dealership in Clearwater; which in my experience could be compared to dealing with organized crime. Look on Ebay, people cant even give away Volvo’s. You can get the C70 convertible for under $1000. Cheapest convertible you can buy until you need to get it fixed. They are not the Volvo of the 1970s that lasted forever. And the Xc70 might be very safe as they never get out of the driveway. Stick with Toyota, or Hyundai…. Hyundai is really bringing their game. My wife has the sonata which they styled after Jaguar. Awesome car. Cant wait to test out a Genesis. BTW. Would you trust a Volvo for safety if you can not even depend on it running. AND remember they had a Ad years ago touting their safety, and were caught lying using a car that had been reinforced.

        https://jalopnik.com/how-volvo-lost-the-plot-1796486519

        I hope Volvo gets it together but until then I would hate to see someone get burned like I did. If your going to dump tons of money into a car at least go with style and performance… Get a jag or mercedes the volvo will be more expensive. Jeff

  13. Sam, I think you should get a Toyota or a Subaru product. It would just make great common sense. You will save money and keep your family safe! A Hybrid may be the way to go to save on fuel also. Good Luck with your decision!!

  14. I’m in the hospital now because of a distracted teenage driver. I was in an a Lexus ES 350 2016. The driver was in a large infinity SUV. I was rear ended and I have a concussion and brain injury, neck and back injuries. My car was smashed and that SUV barely had a crack in the bumper. I’m afraid to get another Lexus sedan or any car again. When I was hit in the rear, ithe force pushed my car forward to hit the car in front of me, but my automatic braking stopped me from hitting that car. Every vehicle needs automatic braking. It should be the law.
    I don’t know if I will recover and work again. One accident changed my life. When I get another vehicle, it will be an SUV.

    1. I wish you the best of recovery Kim. I’m so sorry this has happened to you! Teenage drivers need extra supervision and training. I’m one for raising the driving limit, especially since we have Uber and Lyft now.

      I bet raising the driving limit by just two years would save more lives and result in fewer accidents.

      Get well soon!

      1. Beth Halper

        I totally agree about raising the driving age. I have a nearly 15 year old and I want my next car, which she may be driving to be a tank suv. I’m currently in a 2017 Tiguan but the lease is up and I’m not happy supporting those VW cheaters!! Anyway… I appreciate your piece here especially the side impact info as it pertains to the thickness. I was all Volvo and now I’m not sure.
        Any hints?
        Beth

    2. Jeff flotter

      Because your Lexus crunched up you survived being hit. You dont want a 1960’s partybarge as they are solid and wont absorb the crash energy. I once saw a guy in a big old car get in a headon collision. The car suffered little damage, but the driver was dead. I know seeing a car all crunched up seems like it is weak, but look where you were sitting, that was strong and protected. You Lexus is a great car. That you got smashed into and survived is a testament to great engineering. Stay with newer big cars with lots of airbags and you have got a chance. Or you could get a Kenworth or Peterbilt that might calm the nerves. Just a little hard to find parking.

  15. Allison Jones

    I was wondering about the safety of my H2 Hummer. It’s a 2006. Could you tell me anything about it? The previous owner had put wide tires and a lift on it, if that makes a difference.

    1. I learned an expensive fact about the windscreen of a Hummer from a co-worker. Because it’s almost vertical, it doesn’t deflect stones. A stone punched a hole into his windscreen.

  16. Patricia McIntyre

    A Honda Odyssey, or Volvo XC60 or XC90…the Volvo XC90 being my #1 pick. The XC90 will be my next car, after driving an XC60 for past five years, which I’ve absolutely loved. I’m only upgrading to the 90 primarily for additional safety.

  17. Great article. There is one major point to consider when it comes to car safety. On my site I posted an essay about buying a safe car, plus a lengthy Youtube video about the same topic. The main thing to look for that is often overlooked in a car purchase is the fatality rate. Only a few cars have zero fatality rates, meaning that in certain model years no one got killed in that particular vehicle. We have two Lexus RX 350 crossover vehicles and they are on the list of zero fatality. A great ride, and obviously a very safe cars. There is also a myth that large cars are automatically safe. This is simply not true, since it depends on how well the vehicle absorbs impact energy and number and location of airbags. Good luck in your car buying (I LOVE high tech cars!).

    http://www.markkowaleski.com/uploads/8/1/4/7/81472122/_buying_a_safe_car-_forget_the_horsepower_go_for_airbags_.pdf

  18. I have been asked to do research
    ( let’s pretend that this person has LOTS (high end) of money…Or HARDLY ANY( low end) money)
    ….. For a person that will need to go to a car rental place, once getting into the chosen town of choice. TRAVEL ISSUES…………..

    1. Driver is about age 65
    2. Will drive at night (unknown if it will be freeway or country road driving) sometimes
    3. Will drive around CRAZY drivers who go WAY TO FAST, DISTRACTED by cell phones or ?? , CONGESTED, No safe place to pull over, & ANYTHING can happen.
    4. Has a passenger who has HIGH travel anxieties (been in a few HORRIBLE accidents) & afraid of ANYTHING that “appears” like they are going to DIE any second now.
    5. Some roads have HORRIBLE HAZARDS such as to many pot holes, debris, no safe areas to pull over to side of the road, can’t see around or over curves, hills, & parked cars.
    6. Bad weather conditions such as extreme​ heat, rain, hail, snow & such
    What vehicle would be the best to ask for as far as
    SAFEST, FUN, POWER, ( get up & go) great on GAS, fits 4 to 5 people for long trips, & CLASSY/ LUXURY ???? SAFETY FIRST !!!!!!!!!! The thought was maybe a SUV ??? Can’t roll over easily like some vans do. HEAVY ” might be good” ????
    Please help as soon as possible.

      1. Yes, minivans are the best for a family. Safe and practical. They don’t roll over like SUVs, they don’t foster speeding nor aggressive driving. They last 20 years easy, the duration you need it more or less.

  19. Some of the vehicle brands mentioned in these comments such as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi have Overseas Delivery Programs that I am surprise very few utilize here in the United States-Volvo having the best program. It may not be for everyone, but the possible savings anywhere from 3 to 10% off of MSRP pending on model type, no price haggling, being able to order exact features you want (US compliant), 2 round trip airline tickets and one night hotel stay and pick up and drop off at Airport included (Volvo’s program), pick up your car at the factory where it has been built and being able to be the VERY first person to drive it off the factory line (Cool factor), and if you wish drive around Europe on a planned vacation with your brand new car prior to having it shipped which here again saves you a lot vs renting a car which is OUTRAGEOUS in the EU (Very Cool factor).

    Now Sam, this will really bake your noodle, what if you were to do a car buying Travel Blog exclusive experience utilizing one of these programs? Not only would you reap the benefits of what I mentioned above, but you could also potentially write off expenses for the trip where some of the programs (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche) don’t offer airline/lodging, etc.

  20. I vote for the Tesla X. It’s expensive, but that’s not the point of this post right?
    In extremis, imagine your thoughts after an accident (I could have spent more and they’d be alive).
    Like my father says sometimes, if you can pay it with money, then it’s cheap

      1. Yes, the Velar looks nice (both outside and more upscale inside), but I’m guessing it’s going to run ~ $10k more. Probably worth it if you are going off-road; or you have some nostalgia due to Moose.
        The upcoming Volvo XC60 looks interesting too.

        Very curious as to what you decide, as I’m in a similar situation (mid-40s, ready to get something a bit nicer). Candidly, I still like the Tesla S but I hear awful stories of having to get them repaired for what seems like fender-benders. Insurance covers it, but eventually that gets priced into the premiums.

  21. I know you don’t find Subarus exciting – but they are safe utilitarian vehicles, if that’s what the point of the article is. We got 2014 Outback at 0% for 3 years, when our son was born, even though I could have paid all cash. You can get 0% apr these days too.

    They aren’t the most stylish cars, no one aspires to own one when they grow up :). But they work and take abuse. The AWD is awesome in the snow in the NE. Will definitely work in Tahoe. Decent gas mileage with the 4 cylinder version and that version is pretty cheap to boot.

    Just my 2c and vote for the outback.

  22. I have an Acura MDX and it is practical for all intensive purposes. I use it to haul my kids around town to their various sporting events. I also use it to carry our bicycles around. The third row gets frequent use. The car is all wheel drive and has super handling. The SUV handles well and is fast enough for freeway merging. It is not a luxurious as my wife’s Lexus GX, but it gets the job done in a more practical sense. The maintenance is not expensive and it offers a lot of technology. We have taken it to the snow and on many road trips. The kids love having the rear entertainment system and rear climate control with heated seats. There is plenty of storage space and topped off with 10 drink holders. I purchased this off lease from my friend. He changes cars every two to three years. I purchased it two years old with 21,000 miles on it for half price. I think it was a good purchase.

  23. The RAV 4! It holds it value very well, great on gas for a small SUV and it is rated a “Top 5 Safest Car”. We have a 2010 and we love every minute of it, the trunk has a ton of room as well.

  24. My lesbian heart wants a Subaru. My aversion to driving heart wants a Tesla that drives itself.

  25. If you’re going to purchase a luxury compact SUV you can’t go past the Porsche Macan. It is a thing of beauty. More affordable options include newer versions of the Mazda CX-5 or VW Tiguan; both are coming in May.

    The new 5 series or E class with AWD are wonderful vehicles too. (I’d go with the 5 series. I had an E class and cost of ownership is astronomical.)

    I’m looking for a new car and I test drove the new Hyundai Elantra Sport. It’s amazing with a base price just above 21K and fully loaded at 26K. Dealer incentives are $2500 and 0% financing. I’m close to pulling the trigger but need to really think about whether as a family we need a second car.

    Happy car hunting!

  26. NewToCommentSection

    Financial Samurai’s response to comments are hilarious! Pleasantly different from the tone of the articles.

  27. JustAnotherEngineer

    My wife had an Accord before kids. We had twins and her back didn’t do well getting two car seats in and out of a car (she’s fairly tall and has had back problems for several years including lots of shots and a surgery). Most full size SUVs we looked at were too tall. So she decided on an Odyssey. She loves that van – the sliding doors alone make it easier to get kids in and out than any other vehicle. I want to hate it, but it’s so ridiculously practical that I can’t. If I had known then what I know now, I would’ve kept the Accord for me and gotten rid of my truck when we got the van.

  28. I second another comment about a VW GTI. I know VW isn’t en vogue because of dieselgate, but it ranks high on your side thickness stat, they’re fun to drive, roomy, and 4drs which is convenient when you have a kid. I’m late-30s too, and I got one last year for 25K out the door (in you neck of the woods, so includes tax & doc). They’re fairly full efficient and “stealth-wealthy”. Also, you being in the city, it still gives you some of that compact car traits like your Rhino to help you into parking spots that a full size sedan can’t. And you get that door “thud” as well that you won’t find in a Honda (I’ve owned 3 Hondas previously).

  29. Hi Sam,

    I had to chuckle when you gave the safety tip of not allowing your teenager to drive. After you chauffeur your kid around for 16 years straight you might change your mind. I’m worried from the second my teen pulls out of the driveway till the moment she gets home. However, do you really want to rob your kid of the joy of independence that comes from getting there license?

    Thanks, Bill

    1. Yes, kids can only drive if they get a 3.85 / 4.0 or higher and have taken a defensive driving test after getting license!

      I’d rather have my kid get into a Lyft than drive him/herself.

  30. I was driving back from a wedding with my wife and infant in my Toyota Landcruiser. A Toyota Camry sideswipped me on the passenger rear quarter panel on the freeway as we were travelling at 70 mph. In police talk that would be a pit maneuver. I literally felt a small bump like I drove over something then noticed the Camry rebound off into another lane. Didn’t even wake up my sleeping child.

      1. Thank you. I am impressed with the rig. It can tackle quite a bit of everything. Can easily get 250-300k miles out of it. Toddler was in the middle of the middle row. We have a Chicco keyfit which makes it easy to snap in from either side.

        1. Interesting. Most cars have the snap things on the left and right and not the middle right? Isn’t the middle where you have to use a seatbelt to strap the chair in?

          Middle seems safest to get most distance from side impact.

    1. Diana P McGinley

      That is definitely not a 10% of your income vehicle! If you have that kind of money you can afford to have a professional driver chauffeur you around.

  31. Ten Bucks a Week

    I had a Passat diesel, it was nice and very quiet. I sold it before the debacle unfortunately, would have came out way ahead. I would highly recommend it.

  32. Interesting read, around a year ago I moved not only near a train station but close enough to cycle to work – 90% of which is along canal safely away from cars!

    This has enabled me to drop my annual millage from 15k to 5k, keeps me fit and has dropped my stress level.

    With that said! Cycling is often seen as a ‘safe’ way to travel but if you look at the stats it’s often more dangerous than riding a motorbike!

    Thank-fully I live by a river which leads to towns boths sides so I thankfully very seldom cycle near a road – I also don’t have any kids and I can tell you know when I do my car choice will certainly change!

    Sam

  33. Smart Provisions

    It’ll be interesting to see what vehicle you pick, Sam. I’m going to have to guess a Toyota Prius for it’s high safety rating, reliable brand name, and its’ environmentally friendly hybrid engine.

    Back when I had to drive a vehicle, I had a Toyota Camry for it’s brand and reliability. I felt safe riding in it and it also looked pretty cool from the outside.

  34. “Road crashes are the single greatest annual cause of death of healthy U.S. citizens traveling abroad…”

    Wow! I didn’t know that. Needless to say, it’s sobering. Gladly pay more for a safer car.

  35. I’m glad the Ford Kuga’s didn’t make the short list! Just stay away from the Ford Kuga’s!!!! They catch fire!!! It’s at least 2 years since the first fire and Ford refuses to acknowledge there’s a problem!

  36. I vote for a Tesla model S or model X as well. I know it is expensive and it is definitely cost more than 10% of my family annual income but my family and my life worth much more than the car itself. I can guarantee you that your life will not the same without your love one and I will do anything and everything to protect them. Anyway, the reason why I recommend a Tesla model S is because I witnessed many bad accidents during my daily commute to San Jose. Couple weeks ago, I saw a big Ford Pickup F150 slammed into Tesla model S that was slowing down because of heavy traffic. The back of the model S was completely demolished but the driver was able to walk away from the accident. On the other hand, the driver on Ford F150 was unconscious or he needed serious medical attention. life is full of choices, choose what you think is best for your family. Good Luck.

    1. I checked out the Model X souped up version. $145,000. Seems unreasonably expensive + I have to spend $3,000 for the garage charger.

      But yes, the Tesla with the autopilot, anti-crash stuff, and no engine sure sounds great for safety.

  37. Save Splurge Deny Debt - Cameron

    We bought a new(dealer model) Volvo S60. Amazing deal on it because it was their loaner car but still a brand new car. Great safety and comfort. Fits both of the car seats we owned well although some slight disfiguration on the leather back bucket seat.

    Always fun to look at new cars. Good luck!

  38. There are some pretty interesting cars coming out these days…we own a 2014 Subaru Crosstrek – great car for what it is. Excellent safety equipment for the class, not pretentious, but well equipped and comfortable. Also one of the best AWD systems out there and more ground clearance than most SUVs. The Geneva motorshow is going on right now and Subaru juts released the 2018 Crosstrek (new platform – based on the new Impreza that you might’ve seen on the roads) – so might be something worth looking at when it hits showrooms later this year. They also hold their value incredibly well.

    You had also mentioned the Accord sedan but that you were shying away from it because you need AWD for Tahoe trips. I’d like to ask you to expand your horizons and consider a FWD car like this and buy a spare set of snow tires for the winter months. A FWD with good snow tires is infinitely more capable than an AWD car on run of the mill all-season tires. Your drivetrain is only as good as the traction your 4 wheels are giving you – and AWD does nothing to help you STOP a car. Snow tires will help with both of these – it’s an investment of a few hundred bucks but you’ll essentially have 2 sets of tires that last twice as long, and are much safer – and you can save money on the car itself by not going for an AWD model (and typically better fuel economy as well). Especially for California’s “light” winters FWD with snow tires will be unstoppable. For most Californian drivers snow tires are absolutely overkill – but if you do plan on going up to the snow often, it is a worthwhile investment.

    TL;DR – can vouch for Subarus, great value for money. If you’re looking at FWD cars don’t shut them out – consider snow tires for winter (good decision for any car, really if you can afford it and have the storage space).

    1. Subarus are great, but the brand doesn’t speak to me for some reason. Never longed for one growing up. Never rode in one growing up either, so have no experience. But from a utilitarian perspective, it’s great.

      Just won’t fit the mid-life crisis criteria.

    1. The new XC60 that was just unveiled looks mighty fine, especially if the XC90 is too much car for a city dweller. Definitely on our list for when its time to replace/upgrade our Crosstrek in a few years.

  39. The older I get the more I think about safety with cars too. Living in a city like SF I see way too many careless, aggressive and distracted drivers. And even though the increase in ride sharing like Uber and Left is super convenient from a consumer perspective, it’s brought SO many more cars on the roads here and a lot more close calls and actual accidents.

    Of course there’s safety risks even riding a Muni bus in the city – let’s face it some of those drivers should not be on the road – but the risk of injury riding on a giant bus is much less than being in a poorly crash rated car.

    Anyway, lots of great suggestions in this post and taking size and safety ratings into consideration before buying any car is so worth it. Fortunately I don’t know anyone personally who died in a car crash and hopefully I never will.

  40. Sam – I urge you to consider using “shift” (the company) to buy a used car in the bay area. We had a great experience with them buying a luxury SUV. Dont sell your Honda to them, they undercut you on price a lot, but they have some amazing deals if you know what you want and are willing to wait (reasonably!).

    We ended up with an Infiniti SUV originally worth 50K, two years later and 30K miles later sold to us at 25K. Dealers were quoting 32K for the same car, all the bells and whistles, rear camera, AWD etc.

    The other thing I recommend is also waiting till after the baby to buy – yes its a bit more painful, but atleast you know how much space you need and if you maybe want to have another child? kind of sort of :P I was firmly convinced that a sedan has enough trunk space for all the baby things, but what I didnt realize was there isnt enough space for luggage and baby stroller for a trip to the airport, or a weekend away! Firmly in the SUV camp now.

    Good luck!

    1. Good recommendation! Maybe I’ll just go straight to the monster SUV, since it fulfills the beginning thesis in this post.

      I tried Shift. Excellent experience. Just didn’t buy the Porsche 911 they brought over. But I did enjoy the test drive! :)

  41. Funny that you said slow down and pay attention. The other day when driving I slowed down in a school zone. I was not on my phone but some angry man pulled up to me and started yelling at me. He assumed I was on the phone. So my reaction was to slow down further and let him go on by.

    Driving is by far the most dangerous thing we do each day. That is why I keep my commute to a minimum.

  42. Nor Cal Mountain driver

    We were in a similar situation a few years back. I remember reading that weight was an important factor. I think 5000lbs was the criteria to be in the safest category. That made us choose the VOLVO XC90 over any Subaru. Well, now we have 410,000 trouble free miles on the XC90.

    1. Yes, weight is definitely an important factor. The heavier, the more battering ram it is in a game of chicken.

      410K is impressive! Wow.. that is a ton of driving. I only drive like 6,000 – 10,000 miles a year. Where you going?

      1. Nor Cal Mountain driver

        The highway safety institute frames it as a matter of staying on the road when there is a soft shoulder…where most all of the fatalities occur. Most fatalities occur when the car leaves the road and hits a fixed object, like a tree. It’s been a few years since I investigated and with three babies it was my most important priority. I would have bought a tank…XC 90 was the closest I could find.

        1. NorCal Mountain driver

          Be careful not to think of AWD as a safety feature. It is a performance feature, not additional safety.

      2. NorCal Mountain driver

        Be careful not to think of AWD as a safety feature. It is a performance feature, not additional safety. Keep researching. Weigh is important for staying on the road, not battering ram.

  43. OlderAndWiser

    I’d go for the Prius V. Get the red color for fun if you like. The real fun will be the activities you do with the family!

    No matter what car you choose, please consider taking a defensive driver course. (Both you and your wife.) When it comes to safe driving, we all have room for improvement.

    Wishing many years of safe travels for the entire Financial Samurai family!

  44. I completely understand the logic and as a young father, my dream car is a volvo xc60. All the passive safety features in the world and a lot of steel to protect the family.

    But isn’t it exactly that reasoning that make roads unsafer? Our best answer to road safety cannot be to surround ourselves in big layers of steel to keep us intact and destroy the other party in a crash.

    Ultimately, it will be driver less, lightweight vehicles that will increase road safety on the road. It’s so frustrating to drive on the high way and see driver after driver look at their phones instead of the road.

    Guess I only have a few years left to drive those big engine cars before they take away one of my dearest pleasures hahaha.

    1. Unless we can prohibit everybody from buying a car over a certain size and weight, and unless we can get rid of the existing cars over size and weight, the only thing we can do is control what we buy and how we drive.

      I don’t see a snowballs chance in hell that every car has to be the size of a Honda fit. Therefore, I’m going to use my knowledge, my driving skills, and my wealth to buy something safe.

      In a game of chicken, I want the monstrosity to save my family.

  45. Tiffany Larson

    We just bought a 2015 Tahoe and LOVE it. We had a small crossover for years and got tired of not having enough room to carpool for kid’s sports or store all of our gear for adventure travel (kayaks, stand up paddleboards, skis, camping gear, etc). We know a family that recently died in a car accident (their only child survived) while driving a small car and it confirmed that having a larger (potentially safer) car is the right decision for us. It’s the nicest (and most expensive) car we have ever purchased but it’s worth every penny.

  46. Highly recommend the Volvo SC60. (Esp if you splurge for the R series, but certainly not necessary). If safety are your 1 2 and 3 priorities, you really can’t do better. The full length side-airbags work incredibly well. My wife and son were rear ended at high speed on a highway, spun around, and plowed into a railing. The car was declared totaled, but they both walked away without a scratch. We replaced it with another, and the AWD is fantastic in the snow going to the mountains here in WA for skiing and snowboarding. Also, because it is lighter than the XC90, your pick-up is fantastic when you need to get away from distracted idiots on the road.

  47. My husband and I just went through a very similar exercise. We are planning to start a family and I needed to get rid of my 10 year old jeep so we did some research. We were looking for a car or SUV with all wheel drive to handle the snow and bad weather in the northeast. We identified many of the vehicles discussed in your article above. After a bunch of test rides and research, we ended up purchasing a used 2014 ML 350 with under 20K miles, from a local dealership running a promotion in the early fall. The price was in line with a new, fully loaded, Honda accord and it offered more room and some nice safety features (collision warning, lane assist and blind spot detection to name a few). My husband wasn’t a fan of buying a new car since it loses it value so quickly and I really enjoyed feel of the ML on the road.

    Figured I would share as an alternative option to leasing, as there are some nice and most importantly safe used cars on the market.

  48. I’d go with a midsize or larger sedan. Or maybe one of the smaller SUVs. I’m not a fan of the larger SUVs. Even with all of the new technology and stability control, I feel that they would still be prone to rollovers.

    We have a 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid. I love that car!

  49. The safest vehicle is my bicycle. It’s safe, it’s fast, it’s fun and it improves my health instead of contributing to its decline. Wouldn’t travel any other way.

    1. Cool. Where do you put your kids? In Asia, we used to put a flat metal platform above the rear tire, so that one or two kids can sit there during the commute.

      Or, is it just each member of the family riding the bike to and from wherever?

  50. Duncan's Dividend

    I always love seeing articles like this as I work in insurance, in particular auto physical damage, and have a totally different perception based on what I see and lists that come out. For example, while people consider Mercedes to be fantastic, did you know that a newer model may result in months of wait times for parts. I personally had a customer upset with me because his brand new Mercedes didn’t have any available replacement air bags and the dealership wouldn’t let him drive it for liability purposes which resulted in him running out of rental. So always be aware when you buy a car if it’s new and high end or the first model year of a redesign that you may be challenged for parts if you do get in an accident.

  51. FinancePatriot

    I ride my bicylce to work daily. Because of this, I see distracted drivers at red lights all the time. Mostly texting, but nothing is more dangerous than talking on a cell phone.

    The safest way to avoid accidents is to not drive. The second safest way to avoid accidents is to not drive on a freeway, and don’t drive during rush hours.

    Oh, and if all else fails, buy a safe car. I feel much safer on my bicycle, and fitter, and healthier. I don’t talk much about bike commuting on my blog though, because it’s just my commute, and I write about personal finance.

    1. I’m all for biking. However, where do you put the kids?

      I’ve seen some ugly, ugly accidents involving a car and a bicyclist. Legs bent backwards, cracked open skulls with massive amounts of blood gushing. Colleague died in a bicycle accident, and a consulting client also was hit by a car and had to have reconstructive surgery on her jaw.

  52. Audi A7, perfect combination of style, performance, ample room for a family of 4/5, and not to mention the best in the business quattro all wheel drive that will handle any snow that comes your way.

  53. I for one can’t wait for self driving cars. It is ridiculous to lose so many lives to anything that we have any modicum of control over. If technology can solve the problem (because people as a group are never going to become safer drivers), yay.

    Also, for the first few years of your child’s life a well installed solid carseat is going to go a long way towards determining safety in case of a collision.

    “But if you really wanted to save the planet, you wouldn’t drive a vehicle at all! You’d only walk, barefoot. You’d also go into a save the planet occupation and live naked in the woods to reduce your carbon footprint”
    I also felt that this was a bit reductio ad absurdum. Obviously the two choices are not “do nothing or go live naked in the woods”.

  54. Hi Sam,

    Definitely go with a Tesla! You could wait for the affordable Model 3 to come out, and even though its not a ‘large’ car I would be willing to bet that the autonomous features will more than cover for the lack of size. Some data came out recently from a Tesla crash that just having the automatic breaking activated in their cars decreased accidents by 40%, plus the software is just getting better and better.

    Soon enough autonomous cars will be the norm and traffic collisions will become exceedingly rare. Can’t wait!

    Also I wanted to let you know that I think you meant to say less not more material here “The simple logic is that there’s more material between you and the car that t-bones you compared to front and rear impact collisions.” Less material with t-bones, therefore they are more dangerous.

    1. Model 3, souped up looks sweet. But it’s not out until end of 2018 or maybe even 2019.

      My next, next vehicle may be an electric. In 10 years, I think the electric vehicle choice will be immense, and performance and distance will be awesome!

  55. First, thank you for your blog. I invest different than ever before
    because of your advise. I do appreciate it.

    Cars to consider. I rent a car every Wednesday and every weekend. Yes,
    it’s a chore, but that is how I make all my side money to invest for
    my future, and I drive those cars over 1000 miles each time I rent
    them.

    There are many models I like, and for different reasons. Mostly
    depending on where I am driving. Long distance where I want to stretch
    your legs and possibly sleep in it, I really like the outback. But the
    two I really like when heading to Seattle are the Toyota Corolla and
    the Hyundai Elantra. Big enough for average comfort and small enough
    to deal with city driving, parking, etc.

    Both cars get good gas mileage, I want to say combined city and
    highway is 30mpg, layout is good in both as is trunk room. If it were
    me, where I keep my vehicles for a long time, 10+ years, I would go
    Toyota. You know you can count on it. The Hyundai would be okay as
    long as it’s not something long term. Seems like some of the Elantra I
    rent are sturdy and have no issues where other ones seem to have
    issues with all the small things.

    Hope that helps. Best of luck and I look forward to more investing advise.

  56. The Green Swan

    Kind of a downer article (when reading the stats)… but a rational thought process. I think what you’re saying to me if that I should look more seriously at buying a Tesla. I won’t complain as I would really like that to be the next car we purchase. I look forward to seeing what your selection will be! Always keep future kids in mind!

  57. Crash test ratings are helpful, but they only tell half the story. About half of all vehicle fatalities occur because of rollovers. This report:

    https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/809979

    Shows that trucks, vans, and SUVs were actually more fatal than cars for nearly a decade, because they’re more prone to rolling over. I haven’t been able to find great updated reports, but it looks like since 2012, when the ESC you mentioned became standard, the fatality rate between SUVs/Trucks/Vans and Cars is now about even.

    “Going big” is only half the equation, and Trucks/SUVs are not a whole lot safer than cars, despite what common wisdom or the crash test ratings would lead you to believe. Worse, big vehicles can make some drivers feel invincible when driving with a little fear would be better for us all.

    1. “Worse, big vehicles can make some drivers feel invincible when driving with a little fear would be better for us all.”

      Many SUV drivers think AWD gives them control and they can drive as fast as forward traction allows. Unfortunately, once they stop accelerating or brake, AWD means nothing and they are subject to the laws of physics like everyone else.

  58. Having a kid is a big change, for sure. For me, I just minimize driving. That’s the best way to avoid accident. Enjoy the test drives. I guess you’re having a kid soon? :)

  59. I’ve always been partial to the Audi Q5, great style, awesome interior (especially that panoramic sunroof), and from the IIHS list apparently top safety pick as well. It’s relatively compact enough yet plenty big for a family. The only downside is gas cost and price tag. I just recently wrote about going electric, and the driving experience is like nothing else out there. If you can get past some of the funky designs, I would opt for one the electric/hybrids on the list.

  60. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration US auto deaths are only 1.27 per 100 million miles traveled( as of 2008). While the total numbers are sad and scary, when looking at the amount people travel one’s chances are insanely small. Based on miles traveled, I’m not sure how much safer one really is regardless of vehicle choice. I’m not sure buying a large vehicle would really make any statistically significant impact on your safety. It might also be worth examining the impact of reduced driving, while also avoiding highways and other high crash area roads.

  61. Outlaw all SUV’s and other gas-guzzling monstrosities and you’ll see a radical decrease in deaths!

    1. Actually, Europe has more fatalities per car than the US, and Americans drive nearly twice as much. So the theory that adopting their small cars would magically make us safer is likely inaccurate. We’re actually safer now than they are. They do have a lower per capital death rate, but that’s just because they’re poor and their gas is expensive. If the people had more wealth and cheaper gas, then they’d probably drive more which would result in even more deaths. Americans won’t stop driving more anytime soon.

      1. Well who told you that European are poor?

        They are not at all?

        Have u ever been there?

        They drive less because of grography and usually they dont commute more than 10 ,20 km

        The real reason is that they drive much faster , on highways they go 140 150 up to 180 km per hours and there are a lot of two lanes roads lined by tree which in the old days where planted to give shades to people walking or travelling by horse and carriage

        Actually i think europeans are much richer than americans , they have much more savings in the bank

  62. VW Golf R. Comfortable and practical enough to be family car and 30 mpg on highway but 0-60 in under 5 sec. it also practices “stealth wealth” in that it looks so similar to a normal Golf that no one will know. Also has a ton of safety materials.

    1. When I see you cruising around in your Golf R, I get sad because I couldn’t afford it, but the GTI is still fantastic. I’d opt for smaller cars because they are much more nimble and they can avoid collisions more easily than a Minivan or SUV at high speeds.

  63. Charleston.C

    As a supporter of factual data, I have always been a bit confused as to why IIHS would separate their ratings into different size categories. Even the IIHS website specifies “a small car that’s a TOP SAFETY PICK+ or TOP SAFETY PICK doesn’t necessarily afford more protection than a bigger car that doesn’t earn the award.”

    That is a HUGE fine print to have when accidents don’t discriminate. A Smart car earning maximum points a few years ago leads to its marketing department touting safety features because it did very very well against another car similar in size and weight, but completely ignored the fact it is very unlikely for a Smart car to crash into another Smart car. Instead it would most likely to have an accident with a SUV or truck much bigger and heavier on US roads. Which begs the question, what is the real world “safety rating” for those driving in a Smart car? Am I better off in a 20 years old pick up lacking modern safety features for crashworthiness?

    IIHS needs to switch to a control testing method where they pair up the test cars against the the most common type of vehicle on the road to have a representative spectrum for safety. Not only does the current system misleads consumers, it also unfairly mask the actual advancement of small car safety in the past few decades.

    1. Good thing we are logical and understand a safe car for its category does not necessarily mean safe overall car.

      My Honda Fit is a top safety rated car for compact cars, but it will fair worse than a Chevy Suburban in a front side crash.

      1. Charleston.C

        Well … Financial Samurai readers may be logical, can’t speak for the typical car buyer or general public as a whole.

  64. I owned a Honda minivan for 10 years and regret selling it every day since! The utility is simply unbeatable. Swallow your pride and consider it. Toyota makes an AWD version as well.
    I LOVED Subarus until they converted to CVT transmissions. It was a deal breaker for me. It turned my favorite line into my least. The Subarus have no responsiveness between the motor and the transmission. Driving one in the hills of San Francisco would be absolute torture for me. It is a shame because despite the changes for the worse, Subaru keeps breaking its own sales records and will never go back to a traditional automatic transmission. Manual transmissions are available but only on entry level trim. Considering your time at Tahoe I would consider something with AWD and or FWD with snow tires. I’ve leased a number of Acura MDX over the years through work and have felt they are great luxury for less than competitors pricing. Third row seating and reasonable fuel economy make it a nice alternative to the minivan.The Honda guts should give you confidence to run 15 years no problem. Good luck with the purchase.

      1. No minivan?! You’re a newb parent. Wait till you have to haul out three baby carriers and keep them all asleep…and then actually be able to stand upright afterward to carry them? As a mom who bore three babies in two years, I recommend my Odyssey 100 times over. Swallow your pride to save your back. And the dually stroller fits easily, too. Safety ratings and functional utility make this vehicle the top choice. Now that the kids are older, I’m going back to work and in need a large SUV to pull the trailer and seat the kids n their friends. Recommendations for this minivan loving mom?

  65. I’m driving one of the safest luxury SUV’s on the list and with a young family and a lot of road trips its a good thing. Of course I don’t recommend spending so much money on a vehicle until you have a multi-million dollar net worth and significant income, which I do.

  66. As a automotive engineer I recommend large sedans. The one thing IIHS is not talking about is rollover risk. If you take your vehicle on higher speed roads, like trips to Tahoe, than you need to consider roll over risk. SUVs have higher center of gravity and worse handling and are involved in more single vehicle accidents. So since bigger is better but taller is worse the best option tends to be a large sedan. Luxury brands tend to include more accident avoidance features so there is some marginal benefit with price. I would not recommend Toyota products, they do well in a crash but they are worse at avoiding a crash from the standpoint of handling and stability control etc.. However avoiding a accident really depends on your skill as a driver. Most people will brake and drive into a obstacle rather then perform a 1/2 g turn that any modern vehicle is easily capable of. If you want to be really safe get a large sedan and take some performance/avoidance driving lessons.

    1. I’m digging the Honda Accord Sport for just $25k – $27K. Looks good, lots of room, and has a great reputation for reliability. Just tough to drive to Tahoe in the snow. Need AWD.

      1. Triple-Nickels

        LOVE my Honda Accord Sport. It’s a few years old and I got a ridiculous deal: $19.5K brand new (too good to pass up). It’s sporty, gets great gas mileage (commute ~70 miles round trip — yes, Silicon Valley commuter), and is fun to drive. Spouse doesn’t like the seats (not enough lumbar for long trips) but I do just fine with a seat cushion for extra padding as my commute is a trek.

        Like some of your other readers recommended, you should wait until AFTER you have your first baby before you decide which vehicle to buy, as what they say is true: a regular size car is hard to carry 2 adults, 1-2 kids in car seats, and baby bags, strollers, pack-n-plays, high chairs, and weekend luggage. Fortunately, the Accord works for me because my kids aren’t toddlers anymore, so don’t have to carry around all that extra baby stuff. It definitely takes up a lot of room in the trunk.

        Another reason to love my Accord??? I can practice stealth wealth at home or at work, because who could imagine a “millionaire-next door” would be driving a Honda Accord?

        Can’t wait to hear about your upcoming arrival, kids change everything.

        As always, I enjoy reading your thoughtful articles, and the many responses/discussions that follow from your FS community.

        Best,
        Triple-Nickels … and getting closer by the day :)

        1. Good stuff. The Accord Sport with 19-20″ rims look pretty darn sweet. Such good value and reliability.

          Unfortunately, I think I’m gonna get bored of it within 2 years, and will start asking myself why I’m not living it up more now that my life is half over!

          1. Triple-Nickels

            Yes, probably true. They’re considered vanilla.

            I guess lucky for me that I outgrew (or at least I got rational) my interest in fast cars and luxury cars. Have already owned a Z3M, a Mercedes, and a classic super sport. Now my Accord Sport is enough for me, as I rapidly pursue FIRE.

            Thanks for the chat.

    2. Mortality rates are actually lower, as a class, for SUVs than sedans. ESC got rid of that rollover bugaboo. :)

      Personally I’m going to get either a Volvo S60 (most practical sedan imho) or an Audi A4 (looks) in a year.

      1. Would love to see your reference for that, not my understanding. ESC can help but will not fix rollover risk.

      2. I have the Audi A4 it’s a very dependable safe car I love the way it handles and the safety features. You can’t go wrong with it

    3. Scott Thomas

      Thanks for your insights, A. Which large sedan would you recommend? Would you consider Subaru Outback to be a large sedan? (I believe it’s height is 66 in). Thank you!

      1. Subaru Outback is considered a midsize but has good crash ratings although I don’t have personal experience driving and testing them. You could check CR ratings there emergency handling ratings.

        1. I have a Subaru and it burns engine oil like mad. Has done it since brand new. I won’t own another Subaru.

  67. Do the individual vehicle models safety ratings take into account the number of fatal crashes per vehicle model “per capita”? That would be interesting. I mean if you look at the Honda Oddysey,
    It may have fewer fatalities partially due to the type of buyer. For example, Perhaps many Oddysey buyers are women engineers, who have some of the lowest insurance premiums, likely due to their statistically low involvement in crashes. The Oddysey’s likelihood of fatal crash involvement is thus reduced overall, not completely because of its safety features, weight, design etc. but partially due to its target audience.

  68. (I’m not sure if this adds anything so feel free to delete it if you like.)
    My master plan for my kids is to hope that they never have to drive and to hope that less and less car accidents happen by the time they’re legally allowed to drive, thanks to self-driving cars. They should be available to normal people by 2021 according to https://www.driverless-future.com/?page_id=384.
    -Aaron

  69. Go Finance Yourself!

    I can’t stand it when I see people driving with their face buried in their cell phone. You can always tell who it is as they start to drift over into the other lane. I always honk at these people and it freaks them out. Nobody is that important. Whatever you’re doing can wait a few minutes until you’re out of your car.

    I vote going with the Tesla. Not the most price efficient vehicle but I just think they’re really cool cars. Good luck Sam!

    1. I agree the Tesla (X or S) is the car to get. No question.

      The auto pilot is fantastic in these cars. I have ridden in one down a curvy back road and it performed better than I could have. The auto braking is already proving to be a life saving feature on Tesla and other cars. They are AWD so you can still get out in the snow. It only costs about $6 per 300 miles (in North Carolina anyway) and is free to charge at Tesla charging stations which are probably all over San Francisco.

      But to be honest the speed of these cars in Ludicrous mode is the selling feature. It is unlike anything you have ever felt before. These cars will pull harder than any super car or sport bike from a stop. Not exactly a safety feature but the top end speed is lower at least.

      Not cheap at 100K but well within your 5% of Net Worth for a mid life car.

  70. Go electric. The Model X would serve you well, and you don’t have to get the P100D. There are cheaper options.

  71. Interesting. I drive a Mazda 3 which is a lot of fun and on the safest small cars list. That being said I will throw a note of caution into safety comparisons of vehicles. Some use the wrong logic, number of crashes of the car which would be bias by the type of driver or the number of cars on the road. Others look at how the car fares in a crash, again safety and crash worthiness are not necessarily the same. Your tank example is crash worthy, but would the gapping blind spot lead to more accidents? I actually have this arguement with my wife all the time. She is enamoured with rear facing car seats and believes we should rear face as long past two as we can. I agree it’s better for my kid in an accident but it creates a gapping blind spot when I turn which I believe increases my likelihood of a crash. So is it safer? Certainly under a certain age, or for certain drivers, but there is a trade off point.

  72. I figure since you practice stealth wealth that I can eliminate most of the luxury cars on the list. I’m thinking you’ll go with something that holds their retail value like a subaru. It’ll definitely be interesting to see what you pick out this go around.

    1. You can still practice stealth wealth while driving the luxury cars on that list. Just buy used / get one that’s still in good shape but is a few years old. A 2009 Audi Q7 won’t have all the current tech bling of a 2017 Audi Q7, but I’ll bet it’s still at least 90% as safe. For a fraction of the price!

      Stealth wealth and safety aren’t mutually exclusive. :)

      1. What vehicle or SUV would you recommend for safety and reliability? I have been driving a 1982 Mercedes 240D since 1987. Maintenance costs have been unexpectedly extremely low. It has 250,000 miles and need something newer. I have been looking at 2016 – 2017 Lexus RX350s but don’t know if I can get something less expensive that is just as safe and reliable.

    2. +1. I’d HEAVILY recommend the Subaru Outback. Great ground clearance (8.7 in), good fuel economy in 4 cylinder guise, amazing crash test ratings, heavy, reliable, low cost to operate.

      You should probably get it new since depreciation is so slow; the edmunds true cost to own is marginally cheaper with a used one.

      I’m in the medical field and will most likely never earn what Sam does in a year (my specialty makes around 210,000–amongst the lowest of practitioners) and SHOULD get an outback since it’s the most practical car out there at its size.

      But I want a 1-3 year old, heavily-depreciated compact luxury car. My one guilty pleasure hehe.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *