Information courtesy the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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Type: Midsize sedan The Optima scored five out of five stars in frontal, side and rollover crash tests, making it among one of the safest non-luxury four-door sedans in the midsize segment.
Type: Compact sedan The compact class isn’t really famous for its top-tier safety ratings, but the Cruze managed to earn five stars overall, especially in its frontal and side crash tests, making it one of the safest in this segment.
Type: Midsize luxury sedan Volvo’s obsession with safety has always been a part of its Swedish mantra. Its latest iteration of the S60 sedan is no exception — it received a five-star safety rating in every test, regardless if equipped with either front- or all-wheel-drive.
Type: Full-size SUV Considering its somewhat-troubled past, the full-size Explorer SUV has come a long way when it comes to safety, earning a five-star rating overall. Like many 2014 models from other automakers, the Explorer benefits from standard electronic stability control (ESC), a safety feature which automatically applies the brakes or reduces engine power (or both) to avoid a collision and maintain control.
Type: Midsize luxury sedan The fully-electric Model S received much universal acclaim for its technological innovation, but more so for its unique safety features. Unlike conventional cars, the Model S has no lumpy, heavy engine at the front, so it removes the risk of the engine crumpling into the driver entirely and allows Tesla to reinforce the front-end of the car even further. A rear-mounted electric motor and a chassis built around a solid block of batteries gives the Model S a very low centre of gravity, so it’s planted and steady on the road. Combined with eight airbags and other on-board safety systems, the Model S earns a five-star safety rating in every crash test category, making it one of the safest cars in the world.
Type: Crossover-SUV The 2014 CX-5 crossover-SUV received a five-star safety rating overall, making it one of the safest in its class. This includes five-star frontal crash tests, which is an improvement over the 2013 model’s original four-star ratings.
Type: Midsize luxury sedan In the luxury-sedan segment, the ATS (rear and all-wheel-drive versions) earned a five-star safety rating overall, including in side, frontal and rollover tests. The Caddie is among the top safest sedans in its class.
Type: Luxury crossover-SUV Since its introduction in 2001, the mid-size MDX crossover-SUV has maintained a solid safety record, employing features such as traction and electronic stability control. The 2014 MDX received a five-star safety rating overall, although like other SUVs and crossovers in this vehicle class, the MDX gets only four stars in the rollover test, since the centre of gravity tends to be higher than regular cars.
Type: Full-size luxury-crossover SUV The Enclave earned a five-star safety rating overall, making it one of the safest full-size luxury-crossover SUVs in its class.
Type: Midsize sedan Besides its rallying background, Subaru is best known for its all-wheel-drive systems and boxer engines, both of which help keep the vehicle planted on the road by providing grip and a low centre of gravity. Given a full complement of airbags (including a driver knee airbag) and safety systems, the Legacy earns a five-star safety rating in every category, putting it alongside the safest midsize sedans in its class.
Type: Minivan Since its major redesign in 2007, the Odyssey received some of the highest safety ratings in the minivan class, earning five stars in both frontal and side crash tests. Due to its higher centre of gravity however, the 2013 Odyssey gets only four (out of five) stars in the rollover test.
Type: Crossover-SUV Hyundai has gone through great lengths in recent years to improve the look and feel of all their vehicles and, subsequently, their safety. The 2013 Santa Fe compact crossover-SUV comes standard with a system that “anticipates” loss of traction or directional control, and automatically adjusts the vehicle using its brakes, drivetrain and engine power to maintain control and avoid collisions. The result is a five-star safety rating overall, making the Santa Fe one of the safest compact crossovers in its class.
Type: Subcompact sedan Traditionally, smaller cars gave off the impression that they were less safe in an accident than their bigger counterparts — and, to some extent, that was true. However with higher safety standards and safety systems, the sub-compact class has greatly improved, as shown with the 2013 Sonic, which comes equipped with airbags all around and electronic stability control (ESC) as standard. Both in sedan or hatchback form, the Sonic received an overall five-star safety rating, one of the highest in its class.
Type: Full-size luxury SUV Mercedes, starting with their first-ever sedans, has never cut corners when it comes to safety, playing off the idea of “if it’s safe, let’s make it safer.” The luxury-crossover ML is subject to this methodology, featuring a full set of restraints and airbags, including a driver-side knee airbag and pelvic airbags, all of which work together to keep the ML’s passengers’ bones from shattering in case of an accident. An added safety feature for 2014 is Mercedes’ “PreSafe” — a system that autonomously engages the brakes if it detects an imminent collision. The ML earns a five-star safety rating overall, putting it at the top of the luxury SUV class.
Type: Midsize sedan As the Altima grew bigger over the years, so did its list of standard safety features. In its 2013 form, the Altima now features additional passenger airbags, traction control and stability control systems as standard, earning it a five-star safety rating overall.