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Sedan Safety- mid vs small

I have decided to purchase a different vehicle from my 1995 honda civic due to safety concerns for my kids.

Since I am upgrading to a newer vehicle due to safety- is there alot of difference between the safety of a small sedan (corolla, civic, etc) and a mid (camry, accord). The ratings show good safety for these models, but it does not distinguish whether the relative safety of each model is adjusted due to size or the same for all vehicles. Obviously due to gas prices, the smaller vehicles are looking pretty appealing.

ALSO- I would like any opinions on WHICH (specific) vehicles people would recommed. I drive 25 RURAL CURVY miles each way to and from work. I pick up and drop off 4 small (10, 8, 4, 3) children almost every day. I have an SUV for the winter that I have been putting a TON of miles on due to not wanting to put the kids in the ‘little car’. Any suggestions?

We get many of these 'what is a safe car" type posts. Saftey and the automobile starts with the driver and driver training procedes on to maintiance and ends up with knowing when to get out of the rain.

The most important thing I wish to impart upon you is for you not to develope a mind-set that because I am driving car xyz with special features zyx that safety is the cars responsibility and not mine.

Safety ratings are for vehicles of comparable size. So a Corolla compares with a Civic and a Camry compares with an Accord, etc. You can’t compare the safety ratings of a Corolla against a Camry.

You will get arguments about whether or not a larger car is “safer.” You will have to judge this for yourself. The logical conclusion to the size argument is to drive an armored personnel carrier or a tank. But then you’ll still have to worry about getting hit by a train.

Here’s what you need to know: A new Civic or Corolla will be MUCH better at protecting its occupants in a crash than your '95 Civic. The safety feature that matters most on any vehicle is the driver. I suggest you test drive cars you are interested in and buy the one you like best.

How do you get four kids in a Civic, anyway? Do any of them sit in child seats? Is a Civic or Corolla actually large enough for your needs?

While you’re vehicle shopping take a look at a Mazda5. It’s in a class by itself. It’s not too big but will carry plenty of kids and stuff, and it handles well so the curvy roads you drive will not be a problem. If I had to transport four kids I’d look closely at this vehicle.

All cars are quite “safe” these days; the biggest factor in safety now is driver competence!!!

If you are really concerned with safety, I would suggest taking a defensive driving course from the AAA or other institution. You drive on curvy roads, and AVOIDING ACCIDENTS is your best insurance.

We live near the Rocky Mountains and my wife has also taken a WINTER DRIVING course, which teaches you to correct skids, drive on ice, ect.

Other hints; don’t talk on your cellphone while driving, don’t overcrowd your vehicle, do all the required maintenance and buy a good set of winter tires.

Thanks! This is probably not going to be my winter driver. RURAL here means that I sometimes drive with a foot of snow ON THE ROAD to get to work, my ‘shortcut’ is not accessible in the winter except for cross country skis or snow mobiles…(it is paved, but not safe to drive in the winter due to limited treatment).

My oldest son is big enough to be in the front seat (why I have not been driving my car with the airbag light on). Yes, I have TWO in boosters in the back, one with a regular belt. She has to lift up her brothers booster to get to the belt latch- which is why I have been looking at a little larger car (but I am going to put the seats in when I test drive to see if it has the same problem.

I will go try the Mazda- I had not looked at them at all.

It seems that the issue for you now is really convenience. And yes, I would look at a roomier vehicle such as the Mazda 5.

We raised 2 kids in Dodge Dart, Chevelle Malibu, and Olds Delta 88. For a brief time we had a 2 door Mercury Comet, which was altogether too small, and was relegated to seond car duty.

I’d go with a Camry or Accord over a Civic or Corolla, simply based on the number of kids you are transporting around. I have an '03 Civic and it is great and has a pretty big trunk, but a bit more room will help you as the kids grow.

I like the Accord over the Camry because the handling of the Accord is better on the rural roads you are traveling. Too bad there is no longer an Accord wagon. Yet, there is a Camry wagon called the Toyota Venza. When you get more space you give up some gas mileage.

A 4 cylinder Ford Fusion should get a look. Similar size and space to Camry and Accord, much less expensive. The Fusion is getting good ratings on reliability.

Oofies, Here’s Something To Read, Play With And Maybe Get Some Help From In Selecting A Vehicle.

Click this link to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety :

After a little reading, go back to the second sentence, click on the blue "detailed analyses of losses under six insurance coverages"
Here’s that link, directly:

This isn’ the “final answer”, but it is something that can help you and can possibly save you on insurance costs, as well. When you get some models as candidates, call your agent and compare insurance costs. When I call my agent I find that she is well aware of which cars are safe and which ones to steer away from.

Compare a “mini” or “small” with a “large” or “very large” car and you’ll get an idea of a general trend. Look carefully at “mid-size”. It’s your decision.

As we mature and have a family to protect we become wiser in regard to safety. You are wise to consider safety. It’s not something to skimp on when buying a car. Just wait until you send the kids out in a car alone, where they could make a mistake or another driver could, and you’ll have an even greater appreciation. They’re depending on you, Oofies. Happy Shopping and Good luck.


WOW- that site info is really an eye opener. THANK YOU!!!

I need to go drive that Ford Fusion, we actually have a local ford dealer- all of the others I will have to drive to…

You’re Welcome, Oofies!


FEW ever disagree with suggesting a Camry/Accord option…the no brainer options. That tells you something about their value and the Honda CRV option which I feel is well worth your consideration. Who can argue against a car that large, safe, economical and has an unmatched reliability record in CR’s summary car report.

I Won’t Argue. However, My Nearest Honda Dealer Is 2-1/2 hours from here (One-way).

There are virtually none on the road and nobody really into parts and service.

I can get to Jeep, Ford, Mercury, Chrysler, Dodge, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Cadillac, Buick, And GMC dealers in 20 minutes.

The foreign cars are not well represented here. That situation could change. When Pontiac goes away, that dealer might have to find something to “fill in” its spot. Perhaps some of the entire dealers’ lines will go away and maybe the foreign cars will come in, anyhow. We’ll see.


You would win that argument…I agree the best reason not to buy a car is if you can’t get it serviced…though I would expect independents in many places to carry some parts for Honda/Camrys as two of the best selling sedans in the last 20 years .

The IIHS is a great resource. Remember that this data is real-world data, not artificial crash test data, which the produce as well. As actual crash data, it also involves the average driver for each vehicle. But larger vehicles do tend to be safer than smaller ones. Can you imagine a Chevy Suburban faring worse in an accident than a Smart 4two? Ain’t gonna happen.

On the subject of the Civic: it’s about the size of a 1990’s Accord now, and the Accord is considered a full size car, like a Crowne Victoria.

IF you hadn’t considered a Fusion before, check out the Impala and Malibu by Chevy