When Ellen Pierson’s daughter was ready to get her license, the suburban New York mother of three fretted about what to let the high school student drive. “It had to be as safe as possible,” Pierson says, “so I began thinking something in a big SUV.”
Her daughter Lynn, on the other hand, wanted something hipper and, like many of today’s young drivers, something that was more environmentally friendly. She was eying a Ford Fiesta. Almost small enough to fit in the back of some of the big SUVs, mother Pierson was aghast – until she checked the crash tests and realized that the Fiesta was ranked right up there with some much bigger vehicles.
Told to chip in with some of the money she had earned over several summer vacations, Lynn got the car of her young dreams.
Ellen Pierson isn’t the only one surprised by what she has discovered about today’s new crop of small cars. Indeed, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced that six of the 13 compact vehicles it recently tested earned the industry-funded groups “Top Safety Pick.” None landed in the “poor” category in any of the four crash tests each vehicle is subjected to. The latest to earn the top ranking were the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Juke, Toyota Prius and Lexus CT200h.