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Safest Family Sedans for 2017


Safest 2017 Cars for Families:

In Part I, we awarded the safest 3-row vehicles.  In Part II, we awarded 5-passenger SUVs.  In this part, we will look at sedans that have great overall safety and are also typically less expensive to buy and operate than sport utility vehicles. Like our other safest vehicles lists, you don’t have to click through full page ads or slideshows to see the winners! Unlike lists from websites that don’t have expertise on automobile safety, our criteria to qualify are completely objective and based on safety features and crash test results from BOTH the IIHS and NHTSA.  Plus, we go one step farther and tell you the minimum trim level and cost to get a vehicle that qualifies!  Many auto mags won’t tell you that you some vehicles must be special ordered in the costliest trim level and options packages just to get the necessary safety features for your family!

As with the 5-passenger SUVs, we have similar basic requirements to trim the increasingly long list of very safe vehicles to a select few vehicles that stand out from the pack.  We keep a minimum curb weight requirement, an advantage in head-on frontal crashes.  We also limit qualifiers to midsize or larger vehicles that tend to be wider and offer better compatibility for three children or carseats in the back.  That means a lot of very safe vehicles will just miss the cut!  If your car is not on the list, that doesn’t mean it is unsafe!  Requirements:


  • Must be an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2016 or 2017
  • Must have 5-star NHTSA overall/frontal/side ratings for 2017
  • Must be over 3,200 lbs. curb weight (midsize & larger sedans)

The qualifiers below are all among the safest sedans on the road.  Many other very safe models just barely missed the list for one reason or another, or simply lacked a complete set of testing results.  For example, many models dropped out of contention for 2017 because of “Marginal” or “Poor” headlight ratings from the IIHS.  The IIHS made some changes for 2017, requiring a “Good” ratings in all their crash tests and also an “Acceptable” or “Good” headlight rating.  The 2017 finalists for safest family sedan:

  1. 2016-2017 Acura RLX*
  2. 2016 Audi A6*
  3. 2016-2017 Chevrolet Malibu*
  4. 2015-2017 Chrysler 200 2WD*
  5. 2017 Genesis G80
  6. 2016-2017 Hyundai Sonata (built after Oct. 2015)*
  7. 2016_leg_photos_ext_102016-2017 Kia Optima
  8. 2016-2017 Mazda 6
  9. 2017 Mercedes E-Class 4-door sedan**
  10. 2016-2017 Nissan Altima
  11. 2016-2017 Nissan Maxima
  12. 2015-2017 Subaru Legacy
  13. 2013-2017 Volvo S60

*We include some models that qualified for a Top Safety Pick+ award in 2016.  They do not meet the IIHS requirements for the 2017 award only due to marginal, poor or untested headlights.

** Tested too late in the year to make our awards

Selecting the winner wasn’t too difficult.  Perfection was the key.  The very safest sedans earn the top “Good” rating in every IIHS crash test, every single sub-category IIHS crash test rating and earned the best “Superior” frontal crash prevention rating by avoiding crashes in both high and low speed testing got 6 points total.  They also earned a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA and 5-stars in all five individual crash test ratings plus a 5-star rollover rating.  (Note that for 2017, the NHTSA no longer shows results in each individual crash test, so we require 5-star ratings in the frontal and side combined ratings).  This threshold is admittedly very high, so any of our Runners-Up could claim to be just as safe on the road as our winner:

Safest family sedan for 2017:

Caution: Falling Snowflake


In case any of you were wondering, I’m doing okay. The Blizzard of January 7th was rough on all of us, but we will rebuild. This desert-bum-transplanted-into-the-South will rise again.

Cue jokes about how the North handles the snow vs the South. Ya’ll can joke all you want about us munching on our bread and drinking our milk while a single snowflake falls from the sky but I’d like to see how you handle a tornado. Oh, you don’t get them? Exactly.

Friendly ribbing aside, it’s true that things pretty much shut down out here over snow. In fact, schools were cancelled yesterday and are cancelled again for tomorrow. We got an inch or so on Saturday that promptly melted. That’s it. We’ve had record lows, with our temps not coming above freezing, but that’ll be fixed right quick when it hits 70 by the end of the week. Out here, schools are closed or on delays because our back roads are not treated. We don’t have plows and we don’t have the brine that Charlotte uses on the streets. Even Charlotte isn’t exactly prepared- as a nurse, I was still expected to show up to work in the city this past weekend and while the streets were treated, there wasn’t a soul in sight while I slid my way through that icy-rain. It simply doesn’t make sense to put money toward something that never happens.

That being said, those of us in this position could use some safe driving tips. Those of you who drive through 30 feet of snow every day on their way to work, just humor us here and offer any tips you may have.

-Don’t drive too fast, but also don’t drive too slow. The inchworm like crawl is what leads to jampacked highways, which in turn leads to accidents and stranded drivers. Think this scene from the snow we had in 2014 here in North Carolina:


Yeah, don’t cause that.

-If you slide, turn into it and don’t brake. Wait till you feel your wheels grip the road and regain control.

-Increase your following distance. It’s gonna take you longer to stop. Which leads to the next tip:

-Don’t stop if you can help it, and if you have to, do it slowly.

-Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Take your time.

-Watch those bridges!

-Make sure you have items in your car you may need if your car breaks down or you slide off the road. Charged phone, flashlight, warm clothing/blankets, etc.


And pretty much just stay home. Seriously. Schools are closed, a lot of offices are closed, so unless you’re essential personnel, just enjoy it. Sometimes I wonder if the jokes toward the South are slightly based on wishing for a similar “snow-cation”. Everyone needs a day to be “stuck” at home doing nothing, with an excuse for child-like excitement and staring out the windows. Although I suppose when you live where you get multiple feet of snow every winter that isn’t exactly feasible.

We are going on day 4 of “snow effects” even though there’s no snow, and I’m ready for spring. Rivalries aside, I think we can all agree that we can’t wait for warmer weather and sunshine.


Stay safe ya’ll. I’ve got a loaf of bread over here if you need it.

Safest Family SUVs for 2017


Safest 2016-2017 5-passenger SUVs for Families

In Part I, we awarded the safest 3-row vehicles for 6 or more passengers.  In this part, we will look at 5-passenger SUVs for families who don’t need a 3rd row of seating for one reason or another.

To make this year’s list of qualifiers reasonably short for 5-passenger vehicles, our standards are a little stricter than for 3-row SUVs.  In particular, the vehicles must have a Top Safety Pick+ award (for either 2016 or 2017) and 5-stars in all three NHTSA 2017 crash ratings.  That means a lot of very safe vehicles will just miss the cut!  If your SUV is not on the list, that doesn’t mean it is unsafe.  It just means it didn’t quite get the top results like our qualifiers or, in some cases, has not yet been fully crash tested by the NHTSA or IIHS.

  • Must be an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2016 or 2017
  • Must have NHTSA 5-star crash ratings (overall, frontal, side) for 2017.
  • NHTSA rollover rating of 4-stars or above.

There are some new entrants this year, with improved designs and features qualifying for top crash test results.  We may add other models to this list once both the IIHS and NHTSA issue complete crash testing results.  Our qualifiers:

  1. 2016-2017 Acura RDXXC60
  2. 2016-2017 Hyundai Tucson*
  3. 2016-2017 Lincoln MKX*
  4. 2016-2017 Mazda CX-3
  5. 2015-2017 Subaru Outback
  6. 2014-2017 Volvo XC60
  7. 2016-2017 Volvo XC90*

*We include some models that qualified for a Top Safety Pick+ award in 2016.  They do not meet the IIHS requirements for the 2017 award only due to marginal, poor or untested headlights.

Safest SUV for 2017:

Safest Family Minivans and SUVs for 2017 with 3rd Row Seats


Safest 2017 Family Vehicles with Three Rows of Seating

OUR UPDATED AWARDS for 2018 are HERE: https://carseatblog.com/44418/

Are safety and seating more than a couple kids your top considerations in selecting a new vehicle?  You aren’t alone!  The winner for the last two years, the 2014-2016 Acura MDX, is still a contender to retain its title for 2017.  Also see SafeDad’s awards for Safest 5-Passenger SUVs, Safest Family Sedans and Safest Used Cars in for 2017.

For 2017, the IIHS not only requires a “Good” result in the newer small overlap crash test to qualify for a Top Safety Pick+ rating, but now also requires at least an “Acceptable” headlight rating.  The IIHS also demands a front crash prevention system.  These systems are not all created equal, some are only basic warnings that no longer qualify for an award, while advanced ones can actually brake in emergency situations and some are more likely to avoid a crash than lesser systems.  To earn the “TSP+” award, an auto-brake system with an “Advanced” or “Superior” rating is still required.

The NHTSA ratings remain the same, but they no longer allow consumers to see the five individual crash test results for each vehicle.  Instead, you may now only see the overall rating and a composite frontal (driver and passenger tests) and side rating (driver, passenger and rear pole impact tests).

There are plenty of very safe vehicles.  Most midsize crossover SUVs and minivans provide excellent protection for occupants, likely better than anything on the road 15 years ago.  Side curtain airbags and stability control are now standard features.  In addition to frontal crash protection systems, advanced safety features like emergency crash notification, lane departure warning, cross traffic warning and blind spot warning systems are becoming more common on non-luxury models.  A lot of very save models just miss the cut!  If your car is not on the list, that doesn’t mean it is unsafe!  Requirements:


So how do we filter the list of so many family vehicles that have earned safety awards?  It’s pretty easy:

  • Must qualify as an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2016 or 2017
  • Must have an NHTSA 5-star overall rating
  • No individual NHTSA crash ratings of 3-stars or less
  • Must have at least 6 passenger seats

What vehicles make the cut?  At least 10 so far, an improvement from last year as a few more manufacturers have added active front crash protection systems in this segment.  Models that lack complete NHTSA testing but may be added to this list later include the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-9.  As a testament to how safe all these vehicles are for families, with one exception of the Mitsubishi Outlander, due to shortcomings with fitting child safety seats, we highly recommend all of the the 2017 qualifiers:

  1. 2014-2017 Acura MDX
  2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
  3. 2017 GMC Acadia*
  4. 2016-2017 Honda Pilot
  5. 2016-2017 Infiniti QX60*
  6. 2017 Kia Sorento*
  7. 2017 Kia Sedona*
  8. 2014-2017 Mitsubishi Outlander
  9. 2017 Nissan Pathfinder*
  10. 2016-2017 Toyota Highlander
  11. 2017 Volvo XC90*

*We include some models that qualified or would have qualified for a Top Safety Pick+ award in 2016.  They do not meet the IIHS requirements for the 2017 award only due to marginal, poor or untested headlights.

And the Safest 2017 3-row Family Vehicle is: