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Least Expensive Cars With Active Safety Systems

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/22/2015 Austin Lott

Active safety technology is the latest wave of technology being put into more and more cars to make driving even safer. Years ago it encompassed ABS and airbags, and most recently, electronic stability control. These systems have usually taken a passive role in occupant safety, but recently automakers have been using faster processors to create systems that can take an active role and even intervene to help prevent a crash or lessen its severity. Technology ranges from the more mundane (blind-spot warnings) to the futuristic (Tesla's "Autopilot"), and much of it has been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. IIHS measures the effectiveness of the systems by determining that they issue a warning in five of seven test trials in three different scenarios and by testing the autobrake function at 12 mph and 25 mph.

Research

We're focusing on the models that offer the most an automaker has to offer for the least amount of money. Sure, $100,000 will buy you an S-Class that can practically drive itself, but here are some ways to get active safety features without breaking the bank.

Subaru

The 2015 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Premium (four-door hatchback) retails for $25,085, which makes it the cheapest way to get a vehicle that takes a more active role in your safety. You have to opt for the $2,295 Options package, which bundles a moonroof, Subaru Starlink 7-inch infotainment system, and the Eyesight system. Eyesight does not include a lane departure prevention system but provides a lane departure warning as well as forward collision warnings and an autobrake function. The Eyesight system is also one of the best active safety systems, acing the IIHS' low- and high-speed autobrake tests by completely avoiding a collision in both cases and earning a Superior rating.

Ford

2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid The 2015 Ford Fusion can warn drivers about impending frontal collisions but can only step in to keep drivers from leaving their lanes. For an MSRP of $28,720 (with $3,555 worth of options linked to the Safety package) the Ford Fusion will vibrate the steering wheel and apply steering torque if the vehicle begins to leave the lane without the driver having signaled. One of the more useful elements of the forward collision warning system is the head-up display, which flashes to signal drivers to slow down, in addition to pre-charging the brake system. The Fusion is the cheapest way to get an extra set of eyes in the Ford lineup, and the Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrids showcase much of Ford's technology.

Mazda

2014 Mazda3© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Mazda3 The 2015 Mazda3 sedan is as generously equipped as the bigger Mazda6, with warnings for frontal collision and lane departure and the ability to automatically apply the brakes if necessary. For just $29,815 the Mazda3 can be equipped with an adaptive cruise control system, lane departure warning, and Smart City Brake Support, which works at lower speeds to help the Mazda3 avoid a collision in the low-speed autobrake test. The system, however, does not aid in higher-speed driving (above 20 mph) and will not slow the vehicle at all. The Mazda3 is consistently fun to drive, and with reasonable active safety tech it's a reasonable and enjoyable commuter.

Chevrolet

2015 Chevrolet Impala© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Impala The 2015 Chevrolet Impala is the only sedan in the automaker's lineup to offer an autobrake feature. (The other two vehicles are the Tahoe/Suburban SUV twins.) The Impala performed well in the IIHS tests, avoiding a collision in the low-speed autobrake test (12 mph) and reducing the speed in the high-speed test (25 mph) by 10 mph. Getting an Impala with the active safety suite is as simple as opting for the Advanced Safety package ($890), which also necessitates the $1,045 Convenience package, for a total MSRP of $32,070 including destination. Chevrolet engineers have lifted a number of items from the Buick LaCrosse, which rides on the same platform, vastly improving the "mainstream" car and helping it to have some luxury aspirations.

Honda

2015 Honda CR V Touring© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Honda CR V Touring There's a reason we pick the vehicles we do for our prestigious "of the Year" awards; the 2015 Honda CR-V, our 2015 SUV of the Year, makes the list as the sole Honda product to offer not only a warning system but also an autobrake and a lane departure system. For an MSRP of $32,525, the CR-V includes all of the necessary features as standard equipment on the Touring trim level. The system is incredibly effective, earning almost full points by avoiding a collision in the low-speed test and reducing the collision speed in the high-speed test by 21 mph, down to 4 mph.

Chrysler

2015 Chrysler 200C© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chrysler 200C The 2015 Chrysler 200 can be had for $28,805, which includes the SafetyTec package at $1,295, the Navigation & Sounds Group 1 package at $1,395, and the Premium Lighting Group at $795. The 200 performed well in the IIHS tests, avoiding a collision in the low-speed autobrake test and reducing speed in the high-speed test by 14 mph. The 2015 Chrysler 200 marks a turning point for the model — indeed for the company — from cars fit for the rental lot to something you would be proud to have in your driveway.

Toyota

2014 Toyota Prius© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Toyota Prius The 2015 Toyota Prius has a number of distinctions, most of them related to the vehicle's incredibly fuel-efficient ways. The new Prius is the only Toyota product with warning and collision prevention features. A number of other vehicles can be optioned with an autobrake system, but only the 2015 Prius Five can be optioned with a lane departure prevention system that can provide corrective steering when the adaptive cruise control system is engaged. The top-of-the-line Prius retails for $35,150, which includes the $4,320 Advanced Technology package and the destination fee. The emergency braking system is more of a mitigation system, as it only reduced speed by 5 mph and 4 mph in the low- and high-speed autobrake tests, respectively.

BMW

2014 BMW 228i© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 BMW 228i It's surprising that the 2015 BMW 228i Coupe can be optioned with active safety features for scant hundreds more than the unexciting Prius. For just $36,850 the 228i provides an autobrake and lane departure warnings. The system functions well, reducing the speed in the low-speed test by 10 mph and the high-speed test by 7 mph. The relevant features include Driver Assistance package ($950), Driver Assistance Plus ($700), and Technology package ($2,150), which are all linked choices.

Volvo

2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive E© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive E You didn't think we'd get through a safety list without including the oft-hyped Volvo, did you? Volvo equips all of its cars with City Safety, which helps the vehicles avoid collisions in the low-speed autobrake tests and has a collision mitigation system that works up to maximum speed and that reduced speed in the high-speed test from 14-16 mph on average. The most affordable way to get into Volvo's legendary safety is the 2015 S60 sedan, which carries an MSRP of $39,040. It's made even better with the optional $1,500 Tech package.

Audi

2015 Audi A3© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Audi A3 The entry-level 2015 Audi A3 sedan in Prestige trim can be optioned with the Pre Sense active safety suite, which is a part of the $1,400 Advanced Technology package and brings the price to $40,645. The Audi's autobraking avoided a collision in the low-speed test but did not slow the vehicle in the high-speed test.

Mercedes-Benz

2015 Mercedes Benz C300 4Matic© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Mercedes Benz C300 4Matic The redesigned 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class becomes a miniature S-Class with incredible levels of available active safety technology from the company that helped to pioneer it. Remember when radar cruise control used to be only available on the $100,000 S-Class? The C-Class is a shining example of trickle-down tech. We're getting it a few years later, but who can complain about cutting edge technology for less than $50,000? The C300 with all the right options goes for $42,125, including the $2,800 Driver Assistance package.

Hyundai

2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan Motion View© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan Motion View The Germans may have helped pioneer active safety tech, but they cannot claim the highest distinctions of safety. Those merits go to Subaru and Hyundai. The 2015 Hyundai aced both the low- and high-speed autobrake tests, avoiding collisions in both. Not only that, but in a series of videos the automaker also demonstrated the systems on a closed course with such stunts as a line of Hyundai Genesis models that one by one lose their human operators and follow each other around a racetrack. Finally, the lead driver blindfolds himself with several driverless cars in tow and allows the Genesis to stop him as a semi-truck slams on its brakes in front. It's nerve-wracking to watch, but the cars stop without much drama. Prices for the safely-equipped model begin at $46,450, which includes $7,500 in options.

Least Expensive Cars With Active Safety Systems© Provided by MotorTrend Least Expensive Cars With Active Safety Systems
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