I am trying to determine, as best as I can, whether a 2003 Volvo S60 without electronic stability control and side and also curtain air bags is safer than a 2008 Honda Fit Sport or Civic Hybrid with those safety features.
Define “safer.” This is a matter of personal opinion, and in my opinion the most important safety feature on any car is the DRIVER. Any of the features you list in your post guarantee NOTHING. If you think one is better than the other, buy the vehicle with the features you believe to be “safer.”
I doubt if anyone knows. I do know that a good driver is safer in either car than a driver who may be skilled, but takes chances.
Personally I would the the the Honda or Civic over the Volvo without blinking an eye. But you have to make your own choices.
Probably the Civic. I’d guess that a Civic with stability control is more likely to help you stay out of trouble than a Volvo without. One safety point that isn’t emphasized enough: about half of the people who die in cars do so because they leave the road and/or roll their cars.
However, if I had to be in a crash, I might take the Volvo–with or without air bags, its extra weight could make the difference. Whatever car you choose, drive as if you don’t have any safety equipment. As others have pointed out, the most important safety device is between your ears. The second most important? Your eyes. Use them, too.
It all depends on exactly what sort of crash you plan to have. This question is too general to be very meaningful.
Since the safest bet of all is to avoid the crash in the first place, I’d say the new Hondas will have the edge in agility over the five year old Volvo.
If you’re determined to get into a crash no matter what, they’re probably roughly equal – the Volvo is larger, but the air bags in the Hondas help even your odds a bit.
It’s infinitely safer if any of those fancy computer gadgets pulls a malfunction on you. Computers don’t last forever.
Generally, the biggest threat to the average car is a side impact. So I vote for the 2008 Honda with side curtain airbags. All of these cars have pretty good protection for front-end collisions. It is the side impacts that pose the most danger to occpuants.
I don’t think that you can figure it out. The government and IIHS tests evaluate what happens if a car is struck by an identical car. Comparison within the same size group is suspect and outside the size group is impossible using their results.
On the other hand, you aren’t likely to need the systems. Which car do you like best without this consideration?
To use an old expression, you are trying to compare “apples and oranges”. This is not a level playing field, and thus, there is no valid comparison.
However, that being said, I would personally prefer a vehicle with every available modern safety feature. I know that the Luddites and the Libertarians out there will likely disagree, but that is my opinion, and in a democracy, we do get to express our personal opinions without fear of reprisal. At least, I think that we do.
I have stability control on my 4runner…it’s kicked on maybe 5 times…And every single time it’s kicked on I was in no danger what-so-ever of getting in a accident.
HOW you drive is far more important that WHAT you drive. And I think some people who buy a car with all these features tend to drive more agressively because they have this false sense of security.