Four Safest Sedans For Over $15,000
Looking for a safe sedan? Safety features have always arrived on upmarket cars first – where there’s sufficient profit margin to support what are usually costly additions.
And the beauty of used cars – as our four Gumtree Cars selections below prove – is that they make some of the latest high-tech safety aids available at a price-point that still has some relationship with car-buying reality…
SUBARU LIBERTY (2014 – 2018)
Any Australian-delivered Subaru of the last couple of decades already has the jump on a lot of its competition safety-wise.
And that’s because all those Subarus feature all-wheel-drive which endows the car with excellent traction even on loose or slippery surfaces.
In fact, snow, gravel and mud are surfaces where all-wheel-drive shines brightest, but even on a dry surface, it can buy you some real safety margin.
The Subaru Liberty sedans sold here after 2014 also have another powerful weapon in their safety arsenal: the company’s highly regarded Eyesight technology. Using a pair of stereo cameras, Eyesight enabled the car to `see’ down the road, giving the on-board computer time to intervene and keep everybody safe.
The Eyesight-based additions included active cruise control, autonomous braking, pre-collision brake-assist, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. Meantime, if the budget will stretch a little further, Liberties with a post-February 2016 build date are also fitted with electronics that provide blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic monitoring.
Throw in Subaru’s well-deserved reputation for a strong mechanical package and the promise of good long-term durability (not to mention improved interior plastics by this time) and you have a good all-round bet. Among the best, in fact. And it’s all yours from $16,000 to about $40,000.
MERCEDES-BENZ E250 (2009 – 2015)
Mercedes-Benz has always led the charge for new safety technology, but the asking price of the car itself has often been out of reach. But buying the recently superseded model has been a great way of gaining that tech at a much friendlier price. And still getting the life-saving technology before many brand-new mainstream safe sedans anyway.
The E-Class that arrived here in 2009 is a great example. We’ve nominated the Mercedes Benz E250 here, partly because the extra performance from the small-capacity turbocharged engine gives the relatively large E-Class better primary safety (say, when overtaking). But also, because it was a popular choice in E-Classes back then, there’s greater choice on the second-hand market.
As well as the safety items that had become common by 2009, the E250 adds active head-restraints, a driver-fatigue monitoring system, and an active bonnet that will deform upwards to help protect errant pedestrians.
You also got M-B’s Pre-Safe program that can predict that a crash is becoming inevitable and then prepare the car for impact, including tensioning seat-belts and taking any slack out of the braking system.
If you can afford a post-June 2013 example, you’ll also get autonomous braking that can help keep an eye out for pedestrians and a more advanced version of the company’s adaptive cruise control that can temporarily self-steer the car.
Combine that with the excellent core engineering in these big safe sedans, and the price range of $15,000 to $50,000 looks like a bargain. Which it is.
VOLVO S60 (2013 – PRESENT)
Buying a Volvo has traditionally been a pretty good way of buying a safe car. The Swedish brand has made safety one of its major purchasing propositions, and it has the technology and results to back that up.
The brand’s S60 model is anything but a new design in terms of its core structure, but it has been upgraded significantly over the years to keep it relevant among safety-conscious buyers.
While the first version of the Volvo S60 sedans that landed here in 2010 was a leader in its day, there’s a bigger safety bang-for-buck available in the face lifted version of the car.
So, the post-October 2013 S60 builds on the original’s safety list, starting with a roll-over sensor, active head-restraints, collision warning with auto-brake, active high-beam, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and the City Safety autonomous braking program is improved, operating up to 50km/h (30km/h in the original S60).
You can expect to pay anything from $15,000 to $40,000 and, if you opt for one of the more expensive D5, T6 or Polestar models, you’ll also get a passive all-wheel-drive system that allows the car to make the most of whatever grip is available, even on a greasy surface.
LEXUS GS350 (2012 – PRESENT)
We’ve chosen the Lexus GS350 over the 250 and the hybrid models, because the 350 seems to be the best balance of price and performance.
And, of course, any car carrying the Lexus badge can be relied upon to offer superb reliability and build quality, two elements that are very important even to somebody concentrating on safety first and foremost.
As well as active head-restraints, the GS features blind-spot monitoring at speeds above 40km/h, and uses sensors rather than cameras to detect vehicles the driver may otherwise struggle to see.
Our advice would also be to pay a little extra for the GS350 F Sport or the Sport Luxury model (all versions other than the base-model Luxury model) as these came standard with collision warning, and what Lexus calls its Pre-Collision Safety System which, when the car detects a crash is becoming likely, will prepare the brakes and pre-tighten the seatbelts.
Sport Luxury versions are also fitted with a driver-fatigue monitoring system that actually looked at the driver’s head and eye movements for signs of fatigue setting in and then issued a warning.
From November 2013, a lane-keeping warning system that’s standard can detect a vehicle veering across its lane and warn the driver by vibrating the steering wheel. From October 2014 rear cross-traffic warning became standard, so the best Lexus GS350 safe sedans to buy are the cars with the latest build-date you can afford.