OP-12 cars with the best safety indicators

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The safest new cars you can buy in 2020 are Honda, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Genesis, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru.

Although traffic deaths have been declining recently, more than 30,000 people die on American roads each year. Various violations of traffic rules - speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, unsuccessful maneuvers - remain the main culprits of accidents. But automakers continue to design increasingly safer cars, and regulators impose tougher standards to reduce the number of accidents. Improved crumple zones, airbags, modern driver assistance systems - all this bears fruit. But not all cars sold today have these characteristics.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted crash tests and other studies to create a ranking of the safest cars. NHTSA uses a standard star rating system ranging from 1 to 5. IIHS uses Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor ratings for crash tests and headlight performance, and rates driver assistance systems as Basic. "Improved" or "Excellent".

All vehicles included on this list have received a 5-star rating from NHTSA and a 2020 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.
Genesis G80

Even the base model Genesis G80 3.8 gets top marks for driver assistance from the IIHS. It includes standard features such as autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, reversing assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

However, this trim comes with HID headlights, which the Insurance Institute rates as only Acceptable. To get the premium headlights (LED), buyers need to opt for the Ultimate with extras like a head-up display, 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and more. Models like the Genesis G80 Sport and Genesis G80 5.0 Ultimate come standard configurations have upgraded optics.

Genesis G80 prices:

     G80 3.8L Ultimate: $53,495
     G80 3.3T Sport: $56,745
     G80 5.0L Ultimate: $57,995

Honda Insight

This hybrid even gets a Top Safety Pick+ designation as standard, thanks to LED headlights and rear lights, as well as autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning. The compact car has been crash tested by both agencies and fully complies with their requirements, so the buyer will not have to pay extra for other equipment to ensure maximum safety.

Honda Insight prices:
LX: $23,885
EX: $25,265
Touring: $29,295
Kia Optima

To get a Kia Optima with a Top Safety Pick+ award, you need the SX model. While autonomous emergency braking and forward-collision warning are included even on the base model, LED headlights with auto-beam control are only available on the SX model, an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety mandated feature. Of particular note is the EX Hybrid, which also earns a Top Safety Pick+ designation but only with the optional Technology Package, which costs $4,510.

Kia Optima prices:

     SX: $33,155
     EX Hybrid with Technology package: $34.74

Lexus ES350 (excluding hybrid)

The Lexus ES350 is one of the most affordable ways to get into a car bearing the coveted Lexus badge. At the same time, the model is also the safest. While both the ES350 and the ES300h Hybrid earned five stars from the NHTSA, only the ES350 earned a Top Safety Pick+. The ES350's standard headlights earn an Acceptable rating, but the Premium Triple-Beam LED Headlam package takes it to the top. Unfortunately, purchasing the package also includes other options that may not be related to security at all. For example, heated and ventilated seats and a power-adjustable steering column, among other luxury extras.

Lexus ES350 prices (excluding hybrid) with Premium Triple-Beam LED Headlamps:

     ES350: $44,675
     ES350 Luxury: $47,640
     ES350 F Sport: $48,240
     ES350 Ultra Luxury: $51,440

Lincoln Continental

For the safest model among these cars, consider the Reserve with the Luxury Package, which includes premium LED headlights, or the Black Label. The latest model replaces the sedan's simple HID headlights with a pair of LED units, which the IIHS gives its top rating of "Good." However, you will have to pay for an upgraded Revel stereo system. It's worth noting, however, that all 2020 Continental models come standard with collision-mitigating features such as autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection and blind spot monitoring.

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Lincoln Continental prices:

     Reserve with Luxury package: $67,115
     Black Label: $71,200

Mazda 6

In addition to its stunning looks and enviable driving dynamics, the Mazda 6 family sedan is also one of the safest options in its class. It earns a Top Safety Pick+ designation, a "Superior" rating for standard driver assistance features, and has excellent crash test scores. For standard headlights, Mazda earned an "Acceptable" rating. To get a car with a Good rating from the IIHS, you need to go with the Grand Touring Reserve or Signature variant.

Mazda 6 prices:

     Grand Touring Reserve: $33,120
     Signature: $36,220

Mercedes-Benz E-class

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan gets the highest IIHS score for autonomous emergency braking, but opting for the Exterior Lighting package replaces the standard headlights (IIHS Acceptable) with adaptive LED units (rated Good) and automatic headlights.

Opting for the Driver Assistance package gets you a lane departure warning system, a blind spot monitor, and adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode. For those who value not only safety but also the ability to go fast, the top-of-the-line Mercedes-AMG E53 and E63 models offer the same two option packages with much more horsepower.

Prices for Mercedes-Benz E-Class with “Exterior Lighting” and “Driver Assistance” option packages:

     E350 sedan: $58,095
     E450 sedan: $65,595
     AMG E53 sedan: 77,845
     AMG E63 sedan: $114,245

Subaru Impreza

Even the Subaru Impreza 2.0i can be optionally equipped with the Subaru EyeSight suite of driver assistance features, which includes options such as autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keep assist. Even so, only the Limited models earn a spot on our list thanks to LED headlights, which the IIHS rates as good. The Limited model also comes standard with the EyeSight driver assistance system. All other Imprezas have halogen headlights, which earn a low rating of Marginal. The good news is that both cars that make it to this list are still affordable.

Subaru Impreza prices:

     Limited sedan: $26,695
     Limited hatchback: $27,195

Subaru Legacy

Unlike the previous car, the EyeSight suite of features is standard on every Subaru Legacy. Despite this, only the Limited range is worthy of the Top Safety Pick+ designation, thanks to LED headlights that are not offered on regular models. LED headlights are included in the Moonroof & Navigation package along with automatic headlights, a power sunroof, an 8.0-inch infotainment display and more.

Subaru Legacy prices:

     2.5i Limited: $32,280
     3.6R Limited: $34,580

Subaru WRX

The standard WRX received Good ratings in all crash test categories, but received a Poor rating for standard optics. Therefore, only a limited line can receive the Top Safety Pick+ mark, which is complemented by almost all the privileges: a navigation system built into the dashboard, a Harman/Kardon stereo system. You can enjoy maximum features in the WRX STI Limited.

Subaru WRX prices:

     WRX Limited manual: $32,995
     WRX Limited automatic: $34,895
     WRX STI Limited: $42,595

Toyota Avalon

Although the Toyota Avalon has been given a more exciting look in its latest redesign, it is still a practical car. It's focused on safety, which is obvious since it received five stars from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS. Like many of the other vehicles on this list, the Avalon's standard headlights simply don't make the cut, earning low scores in IIHS testing. Upgrading to Limited, Touring or Hybrid Limited and LED projector headlights push the Avalon into victory lane.

Toyota Avalon prices:

     Avalon Limited: $43,130
     Avalon Touring: $43,530
     Avalon Hybrid Limited: $44,255

Toyota Camry

Every Toyota Camry, from the most basic L to the most expensive XSE, comes standard with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, automatic headlights, adaptive cruise control and 10 airbags.

The safest Camry, according to the IIHS, is the XLE hybrid. It's the only Camry with adaptive headlights that swivel toward the steering wheel and earn a better rating from the IIHS. On their own, they're an inexpensive add-on ($415), but Toyota insists on purchasing a few more expensive packages when purchasing them.

Unfortunately, all other Camry models have non-adaptive LED headlights, which the IIHS considers acceptable but not great.

Toyota Camry price:

     XLE Hybrid with adaptive headlights: $39,145

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