AWD and other safety issues


#1

I drive in MA and to NY and NH. I’m tring to find a safe car, good fuel economy, not more than 25K. How significant and reliable are the NHSTA crash tests? Are those more important than AWD? thanks for your help


#2

Neither AWD nor crash test guarantees your personal safety in a real world crash. With AWD comes higher mechanical complexity, higher maintenance and repair costs, and a 1-3 mpg reduction in your gas mileage.

A front wheel drive car with snow tires on all 4 wheels will give you plenty of traction to drive in winter conditions in MA, NY, and NH. Some hardy NH natives even feel snow tires are not needed.

I’d say the crash tests are are good predictor of how well a vehicle survives a crash. These tests are not “real world” accidents but they are designed to be repeatable so that different vehicles are subjected to the same crash conditions.

Make sure you get a vehicle with lots of air bags and advanced features like traction control, and perhaps anti-skid control. For under 25K you can’t get all the fancy safety features but you should be able to get a well equipped, good mpg, reliable, and enjoyable car to drive.

Stay away from hybrids, they are pricey; you can get a basic Honda Accord, basic Toyota Camry, and well equipped Ford Fusion within you budget. Chevy Malibu, Buick LaCrosse and Dodge Charger all other candidates to consider.


#3

Thanks, Uncle Turbo. Do you mean the AWD itself needs a lot of repair or that when such a car needs tune up etc its more expensive?
Car and Truck seems to like the Milan not the Fusion. I have test driven the Fusion, and Accord and liked them. So much of what I read in reviews seems either full of bias or of full of adjectivew with no where to go. I hate giving up my 1996 Volvo 960.


#4

Take a look at insurance losses at HLDI. These values, normalized to 100 (average for all vehicles), give you an estimate of what all the insurance companies paid out for each car. Note that there are some curious results: similar models have different payouts. Consider the Milan and the Fusion. The Milan is probably “safer” because the owners are a safer group than the Fusion owners. This is real data and the driver must be considered. Of course, if you bought a Milan instead of a Fusion, the insurance rates would likely be lower.

http://www.iihs.org/research/hldi/composite_cls.aspx?y=2005-2007&cls=2


#5

Stability control is probably more valuable than AWD.


#6

I recieved my real world crash test from another American I met while I lived in Switzerland during the 80’s. His inlaws owned a mortuary and one of his jobs was to pick up the deceased. He told me that the car driven in the most radical accidents where not everyone was killed (he was sent so someone died)was Mercedes.

There are times the accident is so severe it doesn’t matter what was being driven.


#7

The same car with AWD (vs FWD) has more parts such as a transfer case, extra drive shaft, a second differential, and more complicated suspension parts. More parts is more stuff that can break and needs maintenance such as fluid changes.

A tune up is about keeping the motor running and that would be the same regardless of AWD or FWD.

The Mercury Milan is a very similar cousin of the Fusion and share most critical parts. Drive both and see which you prefer.

If you drive frequently on snowy mountain roads AWD might be worth the cost and complexity. For getting around on normal highways and interstate roads FWD should be safe and get you whereever you need to go.