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J.D. Power Picks Safest Small Sedans for 2012

JD Power

Many auto buyers are looking to downsize their vehicles, whether it’s to save money on fuel costs or simply to spend less on their next car purchase. One common concern with the move to a smaller vehicle is safety. There’s a certain comfort driving a larger vehicle know there’s more metal mass surrounding you. More car to absorb more impact. Luckily, manufacturers are paying close attention to occupant safety, especially as they look to sell more small cars.

J.D. Power has examined the field, filtered through NHTSA and IIHS data, and identified the safest small sedans. Interestingly, three of them are the most prominent nameplates in the hybrid/electric arena, so if gas savings are your main reason for going small, it’s serendipity. Three are also Chevrolets, so good news for the bowtie brand loyalists. Lets take a look at their findings, in alphabetical order.

Chevrolet Cruze

The folks at J.D. Power note the 10 airbags that cushion occupants with inflatable ensconcement, plus the 6-month free subscription to the OnStar Automatic Crash Response, which notifies the authorities if your airbags deploy. Stability control is also on tap to keep you out of the ditches.

Chevrolet Sonic

Like its stablemate Cruze, you get the 10 airbags and the OnStar Automatic Crash Response free for 6 months. Plus, there’s StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensor and traction control, and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and panic assist.

Chevrolet Volt

The almost all-electric Volt is a high-tech tour-de-force of gas-saving goodness, and it’s safe as well. The Volt may have 2 fewer airbags than its brandmates, but it ups the ante with 5 years of free OnStar service.

Honda Civic

Honda has imbued the Civic with something they call Advanced Compatibility Engineering, which they claim better disburses frontal impact forces to better protect occupants in collisions. Top crash test scores apparently bear that out. 

Hyundai Elantra

J.D. Power notes the 6 airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, and the available back-up camera. The NHTSA and IIHS gave it top grades as well.

Nissan Leaf

Enjoy the Leaf for its 100 gas-free range on one battery charge, feel confident and safe with its 5 airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, traction control and anti-skid system.

Toyota Prius

Like the others, there are airbags aplenty (7, in this case), antilock brakes with brake assist, and with Toyota’s recent problems with unintended acceleration in mind, a system that prevents overrides the throttle when the brake is pressed.