The USA car industry has seldom put safety first, and never drivability. Turns out the second affects the measurement of the first, as electronic stability control (ESC) was deemed required for those 13 vehicles that maxed out the rating standard in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests.
The winners include 3 Hondas, and 3 Subarus – good news for New Zealanders that have made the Subaru Legacy the biggest selling car (used imports included) here.
The introduction of ESC as a criteria is pleasing, as it moves away from ability to withstand a collision (from front, side or rear) to the more important ability to avoid a collision in the first place. The institute claims that fatal single vehicle crashes are reduced by 56% when ESC is involved.
The USA test is not bad, but I’d like to see more emphasis on avoidance – ESC is not a panacea. A handling test around some sort of standard track would sort the vehicles out a bit more, but I guess that isn’t really needed from a country with such superb roads as the US.
In NZ however, our narrow, twisty and greasy roads require the handling that keeps cars poised even when the rain falls and when flocks of sheep block the road. Which is probably why the Subaru Legacy is so popular.