Drivers shopping for the safest car on the road might turn to a minivan or another example of vehicle sturdiness. However, the safest cars are often the ones designed to avoid an accident at top speeds or brake with supreme agility. Consumer Reports grades cars on safety in these two key categories: “avoidance maneuver” and “dry braking.” Here are seven of the sexiest cars on the road that scored at the top of safety tests.
It isn’t customary to gaze at a BMW (BAMXY.PK) convertible and think, “Wow, that looks safe!” Yet Consumer Reports concluded that the BMW 135i could execute an avoidance maneuver at 58.5 mph, the top score of any vehicle tested. That makes for a car that dazzles at the curb as well as cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway. This car’s other claim to fame is notching 97 overall from Consumer Reports, the second best score ever.
2. Cadillac ATS Luxury ($38,485)
GM (NYSE:GM) has been keeping its foot on the pedal with the Cadillac brand, and the results are difficult to dispute. When reviewing the 2013 Cadillac ATS Luxury, Consumer Reports noted the car’s ability to avoid crashes at 57.5 mph. The standard Luxury trim comes with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine capable of generating 202 horsepower. Drivers who want extra growl can upgrade to the 3.6 liter V6 0f 321 hp fame ($44,590). In either case, style and safety are assured.
3. Porsche Boxster ($50,400)
There aren’t many people who deny the sexiness of a Porsche (POAHF.PK), and Consumer Reports certainly vouched for the safety of the Boxster base convertible. It came in second in crash avoidance with control at 58 mph while topping the list in ability to dry brake at 60 mph — the Boxster needed only 112 feet to do it. Once famous as the sub-$50K Porsche, the 2013 Boxster regretfully has crossed the threshold and starts at $50,400 with the 2.7-liter (265 hp) engine and manual transmission.
Light, fast, and stylish, the Mazda (MZDAF.PK) MX-5 Miata Grand Touring also jumps out at consumers for affordability. The attractive sticker price doesn’t come at the expense of safety. Consumer Reports had the 2013 model tied in second place for its ability to pull off the avoidance maneuver at 58.0 mph. This car wins awards for value and fun all the time, but it’s easy to forget when noticing the eye-catching design.
While a Mercedes-Benz (DDAIF.PK) might strike parents as a car to keep away from the kids at all times, Consumer Reports has evidence the SLK250 is at least as safe as it is expensive and stylish. The SLK250 pulled off the dry braking test at 60 mph in 115 feet, second only to the Porsche Boxster. In terms of curb apppeal, it may have no equal on the road.
6. Nissan 370Z Touring ($35,270)
This Nissan (NSANY.PK) sports car has style and horsepower to burn, but Nissan engineers didn’t skimp on safety by any stretch. Consumer Reports clocked the 370Z Touring coupe as able to avoid danger at 58.0 mph, tied with the MX-5 Miata and Boxster. Drivers should also note the power under the hood. In the Touring trim, the 370Z has a 3.7-liter, 24-valve V6 capable of generating 332 hp.
7. Tesla Model S ($71,070)
The achievement of the Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S was bringing sexy to electric vechicles south of $100,000. However, the critics from Consumer Reports loved the car enough to award it a near-perfect score of 99. Safety testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration came later, and the Model S scored a perfect 5 out of 5 in crash tests. It may not have been “safest car of all time” (as Elon Musk claimed), but it was good enough to destroy testing equipment. Consider it a consolation prize.
Though the idea of safe vehicles conjures up minivans and multiple airbags, these tests prove the safest cars are often those able to avoid an accident entirely. It doesn’t hurt they’re among the most stylish rides on the road.