10 Safe, Affordable Cars

2016 Honda Civic

CARS.COM — It can be overwhelming to find a safe, affordable new car, but we simplified it for you. Cars.com looked for inexpensive new cars that earned the one-two punch of robust available safety features and high crash-test ratings from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That means earning an overall five-star rating without a "safety concern" label from NHTSA along with a Top Safety Pick Plus score from IIHS.

Below is our list, sorted by price (all prices include destination):

2016 Honda Civic LX Sedan

2016 Honda Civic;

  • Lowest price with forward collision warning: $21,275
  • Required equipment: $1,000 Honda Sensing suite of safety systems; $800 continuously variable automatic transmission
  • Cars.com expert reviewer verdict: Criticized for an austere redesign of its compact car a few years ago, Honda responded with a new 2016 Civic that's entertaining to drive, has a premium feel and offers advanced active safety features.

2016 Honda Accord LX Sedan

2016 Honda Accord Sedan;

  • Lowest price with forward collision warning: $24,040
  • Requirement equipment: $1,000 Honda Sensing
  • Cars.com expert reviewer verdict: The changes for 2016 could fill a small book. The updated Accord looks different and, in many cases, drives differently; it also boasts new multimedia connectivity and optional safety technology that's available on all trim levels.

2016 Volkswagen Jetta SEL

2016 Volkswagen Jetta;

  • Lowest price with forward collision warning: $25,420
  • Required equipment: Driver's Assistance Package ($950), which includes adaptive cruise control, front assist with autonomous emergency braking and a blind spot monitor
  • Cars.com expert reviewer verdict: A whole segment of the population is not only content disappearing into the background in life, but actually seeks ways of camouflaging themselves through their daily drive as well. The Jetta is the car for them.

2016 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport Premium Hatchback

2016 Subaru Impreza

  • Lowest price with forward collision warning: $25,485
  • Required equipment: $2,595 package that includes the EyeSight system, moonroof and upgraded multimedia system; $1,000 CVT
  • Cars.com expert reviewer verdict: Upgraded with a rich, new multimedia system and higher gas mileage, the Subaru Impreza is a serious contender for all small-car shoppers, even if you don't think you need all-wheel drive.

2016 Honda Accord LX-S Coupe

2016 Honda Accord Coupe;

  • Lowest price with forward collision warning: $25,710
  • Required equipment: $1,000 Honda Sensing
  • Cars.com expert reviewer verdict: The changes for 2016 could fill a small book. The updated Accord looks different and, in many cases, drives differently; it also boasts new multimedia connectivity and optional safety technology that's available on all trim levels.

2016 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium

2016 Subaru Legacy

  • Lowest price with forward collision warning: $25,835
  • Required equipment: $1,195 EyeSight system with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Cars.com expert reviewer verdict:  When life's hamster wheel of school drop-offs, long work days and endless grocery runs is at full velocity, it's easy to forget what you're driving. The 2016 Subaru Legacy only deepens that rut; while it's practical and safe, it's also charmless and forgettable.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Premium

2016 Subaru Crosstrek Special Edition

  • Lowest price with forward collision warning: $26,240
  • Required equipment: $1,995 EyeSight and upgraded multimedia package; $1,000 CVT
  • Cars.com expert reviewer verdict: The Crosstrek is the value leader of the class, including both impressive safety features and ample creature comforts for a low price. It also took top honors in Cars.com's Subcompact SUV Challenge.

2016 Honda Civic Touring Coupe

2016 Honda Civic

  • Lowest price with forward collision warning: $26,960
  • Required equipment: Standard on Touring trim
  • Cars.com expert reviewer verdict: The king stays the king. The redesigned Civic coupe is not only one of the best-driving compact cars around, it also offers lots of content and some of the most forward-thinking styling in the segment.

2016 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T SE

2016 Volkswagen Passat

  • Lowest price with forward collision warning: $27,100
  • Required equipment: Standard on SE trim
  • Cars.com expert reviewer verdict: Multimedia system updates, a slew of new advanced safety features and lower fuel costs make the refreshed 2016 Volkswagen Passat much more attractive, even if its styling changes go largely unnoticed. It's no wonder it landed on the top of the pile during the Cars.com 2016 Midsize Sedan Challenge.

2016 Volkswagen Golf TSI SE

2016 Volkswagen Golf

  • Lowest price with forward collision warning: $27,540  
  • Required equipment: The Driver Assistance Package ($1,495), which includes adaptive cruise control, front and rear park distance control, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and front assist with autonomous emergency braking
  • Cars.com expert reviewer verdict: The Golf excels at delivering peppy, economical fun.

A few notes about safety ratings: Ratings are only comparable within vehicles of similar weight, so a high-performing smaller car isn't technically safer than a lower-performing heavier car. Read more about safety ratings here.

IIHS' top award comes with the prerequisite of a high-performing precollision warning system that automatically applies the brakes when a collision is detected. Precollision systems aren't commonly standard equipment on inexpensive cars or even expensive ones so this story reflects the bare minimum price it takes to equip these 10 cheap, safe picks with the advanced safety feature. Regulators are pushing for precollision systems to be standard by 2020

 

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