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The Eight Safest Cars of 2017

These 2017 cars should keep you safe

Published May 30, 2017

Often taken for granted in modern cars, safety is still a huge factor for many new car buyers in 2017. It’s hard to imagine a world in which cars were offered with V8 engines and no seatbelts at all, but that was America until the 1960s. After that, there were decades of cars equipped with lap belts that could cause as much damage as they could prevent. It wasn’t until Volvo invented the three-point seatbelt that the world realized that car accidents, even those that occur at highway speeds, could be survived with the right equipment. The world of car safety has completely changed from what it once was.

So, over the years cars gained crumple zones, allowing the body of the car to absorb the harshest forces in a wreck, and airbags that could prevent the passengers inside of the car from striking hard surfaces. Modern cars can slow down for you in an emergency, and some will even actively keep you from drifting out of your lane. To make the cut as one of the safest cars of 2017, a vehicle has to combine overall value with a special attention to passenger safety.

8. 2017 Toyota Yaris iA

While it can’t throw its weight around like an SUV, and doesn’t have much metal all around to crumple in a crash, the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA is recognized as one of the safest cars in its class. Considering the size of the Yaris iA and and its starting price of under $17k, this is a pretty impressive feat.

The underpinnings are basically identical to the Mazda 2, and the model was previously the Scion iA. The new badge and grille aside, performance is pretty similar to the Mazda 2 or the late Scion iA. A 1.5 liter four-cylinder engine makes 106 horsepower. 0-60 takes a bland 8.7 seconds, but the iA is available with a manual transmission, which means you can have fun using all of the power at normal speeds.

Safety features include an array of airbags and a design that makes smart use of the small amount of body around the passengers in the event of an accident. One feature that is surprising for this price range is assisted braking, which helps the driver avoid rear-ending another vehicle. It’s cute, cheap, and pretty fun. Surprisingly, it is also pretty safe.

7. 2017 Mazda 3

While it is somewhat popular these days, part of me still thinks the 2017 Mazda 3 is underrated. For a small, inexpensive Japanese car it has a lot of character and doesn’t slack off when it comes to the important bits. For one thing, it is really good looking. Both the hatchback and sedan models have the same front end, which is a big improvement over the previous generation and lacks the goofy grin look.

In my opinion, the hatchback is the better looking overall, but it is nice that Mazda gives customers the choice. A 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine makes 155 horsepower. It’s good for a combined fuel economy of 37 miles per gallon. It also has plenty of neat electronic options to keep you and your passengers entertained. As far as the safety features go, there is the usual mix or sensors that will assist the driver in braking if there is an obstruction in front of the car and beep if another car passes too closely.

These sensors will also alert the driver if they drift out of their lane or if they have the cruise control set too high for the traffic in front of them. I especially like the fact that the brake pads sit closer to the rotors at low speeds so that people driving in city traffic have lighting-fast responses from their brakes. This car is big on technology and packs a lot of practicality into a very reasonable package.

6. 2017 Toyota Corolla

The 2017 Toyota Corolla is an easy car to miss. Every year, Toyota makes the Corolla and tons of people buy them. There isn’t one area of the country or one demographic that prefers them, they are just everywhere. So this is all well and good as long as the Corolla can live up the the expectations of customers year after year.

The Corolla is not a performance car, and it makes the most of a small engine in order to provide customers with efficient, reliable performance. A 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine sends a sensible 140 horsepower to the front wheels. While this might not be particularly exciting, the sheer number of high-mileage Corollas on the road are proof enough that there is something to be said about moderation.

As far as safety goes, the 2017 Toyota Corolla packs features like lane departure warning and dynamic cruise control. The brakes can also be activated by the car in case of emergency, and there is a special system for avoiding pedestrian accidents that alerts the driver to possible collisions. This, along with all of the standard safety features like automatic high beams and air bags, means the Corolla is a reliable, and safe option, still, in 2017.

5. 2017 Subaru Legacy

When it comes to finding a reasonable and inexpensive car to drive on a daily basis, it’s hard to top what the 2017 Subaru Legacy offers consumers. It starts at just $22,000 and doesn’t look, feel, or sound like a budget family sedan. And while its value is pretty obvious, its safety features are far and above its similarly-priced competitors.

First, let’s look at the car itself. Part of what makes a Subaru safe is the simple fact that the symmetrical all-wheel drive system keeps everything planted on the ground in any number of awful conditions. A 2.5 liter four-cylinder boxer engine makes 175 horsepower, though a six-cylinder is available, and that one makes 256. Both run through a CVT, which is less than optimal, but no car is perfect. A manual transmission would be a nice option.

Subaru is also implementing their new EyeSight technology to help the car be aware of its surroundings through sensors at the top of the windshield. This system can brake the car in case of emergency and can alert the driver to hazards like lane drifting. It can also detect other vehicles in the blind spots behind the driver. Combine this with the normal array of airbags and crumple zones, and the whole package is really impressive.

4. 2017 Chevrolet Volt

Electric cars being made this year face a pretty unique challenge. They are under the scrutiny of not only the consumers themselves, but every member of the general public concerned with the future of automobiles. If the first few generations of electric cars prove to be unsafe or impractical, they may never catch on the the point where they own most of the road. The 2017 Chevrolet Volt seems to be doing just fine under this pressure.

Two electric motors make the car move, while a 1.5 liter engine works to keep the battery charged. You can charge the batteries with a cable as well. On only electric power, the 2017 Chevy Volt will go 53 miles. That is really impressive for an electric car that goes for under $35,000 before any tax incentives. Electric cars also get other perks, like being able to drive in the HOV lane in some states with a single occupant.

Electric cars have an advantage when it comes to safety. They don’t have to deal with a motor up in front of the passengers moving into the car’s interior. The Volt also has sensors that alert the driver if they leave their lane or approach obstructions too quickly.

3. 2017 Audi A4

The 2017 Audi A4 is a good-looking and quick luxury sedan that also has a good number of high-tech safety features. Luxury cars, at one point, were definitely safer than their lower-price counterparts because of the fact that luxury brands like BMW, Volvo, and Mercedes could afford to put more safety equipment in each car. Now, though, even economy cars have cutting-edge safety features. 

Safety, then, cannot be the only appeal for the A4. Luckily, it is also pretty good looking, while still being unmistakably Audi. Power comes from a 2.0 liter engine and the turbocharged variant makes 252 horsepower. Being an Audi, this power goes out to all four of the wheels.

To keep everyone on board safe, Audi has implemented a few features to go above and beyond the normal airbags and crumple zones. The 2017 Audi A4 offers lane departure warning and it can warn you if a car is approaching your blind spot. It also keeps an eye out for pedestrians, going so far as to brake for you if you get too close. For tight traffic, the car will also adjust the steering and braking to be more precise.

2. 2017 Volvo S60/V60

When you read the title of this post, you probably could have guessed that the Swedish manufacturer Volvo would be featured. No other brand has so closely associated itself with safety consciousness. They have gone so far as to redesign the test procedures used for new cars to keep other manufacturers to the same standard. So, for 2017, what do their new S60 and V60 models offer to consumers?

For starters, the cars look great. In the US, there are not a lot of companies importing wagons, so the fact that it is sold alongside the S60 is a very nice touch. The cars are mid-sized but still manage to pack a number of luxury features. The base models of both cars have 240 horsepower, but there are Polestar models of both that make an awesome 362 horsepower by way of a twin-charge system.

Volvo has to go the extra mile to make customers notice their safety features. Always on the leading edge, Volvo fans have seen the airbags and crumple zones, and know that the pillars are designed to keep the car from flattening in a rollover. In order to prevent accidents by keeping drivers more aware of their surroundings, the Volvo S60 and V60 models come equipped with adaptive headlights that not only maintain the same angle to the road under braking and acceleration, but turn around corners as well.

1. 2017 Genesis G80/G90

Genesis, a new brand now and no longer a model line from Hyundai, is kicking things off with a pretty sweet luxury car. The 2017 Genesis G80 and G90 sedans look nearly identical, though the G90 beats the G80 in a number of categories. The idea is that customers who want a comfortable and high-tech luxury car will opt for the Genesis models if they are sick of paying the brand markup for other luxury vehicles.

It makes a lot of sense, making a car for practical people who want a little extra, but the competition is fierce. For performance, Genesis offers customers a 420 horsepower 5.0 liter V8 engine, which is certainly a nice touch. There are smaller engines available, but the unexpected kick of power from the V8 seems worth it in a car that does so well at blending in.

The G80 and G90 have the advantage of being rather large, which is an advantage in a crash. On top of that there are airbags and crumple zones that keep the passengers safe and lane departure warnings and blind spot detection to prevent an accident in the first place.

With such an amazing array of safety features for 2017 and so many new technologies on the horizon, it is anyone’s guess what 2018 will bring with it.

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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