The real price of safety

An article caught my eye this week - ”Safety expert: don’t buy Camry Hybrid” (drive.com.au). The reason? It’s only a 4 star safety rating. I don’t know about you, but for a car around $41,000 for the basic model, I’d probably expect 5 stars. When I mentioned this to someone in the office they said, “Most cars are actually 4 star safety – you always have to pay extra to get 5.” This got me thinking and I decided
to look into the multitude of cars claiming to have a 5 star ANCAP Safety rating. .

Turns out the official party line of most car brands in their adverts “5 star ANCAP safety rating” is not completely accurate. The one word standing in the way of you and this new reasonably priced maximum safety car is ‘optional’.

Most car ads promote the standard/cheapest model of the car that usually comes with a 3 or 4 star rating. The 5 star rating that you were hoping for comes with the additional safety pack or the upgraded model, which in turn comes at an extra cost. Optional extra, optional upgrade, optional safety pack - ultimately, an optional cost.

Let’s look at some specific examples

The Mazda2 Neo Hatch which is the basic version sells for around $16,990 drive away and has a 4 star rating. If you want the 5 star, you’re going to have to look at the Mazda2 Genki Hatch and pay $23,790- an extra $6,800. As stated on howsafeisyourcar.com.au “this ANCAP 5 star rating applies to all hatch and sedan variants fitted with ESC and 6 airbags”.  The Neo Hatch has 2 airbags. So if you want more it’s in the Safety Pack Option.

However, the Mazda2 is nowhere near alone.  For the Ford Fiesta “side airbags, side curtains and a driver knee airbag” are standard on some variants and optional on others. These are needed for a 5-star rating” (ANCAP.com.au). The standard model is 4 stars, so your safety is optional. Would you like fries with that too?

For the Hyundai i30, the 5-star rating only applies where side curtains are fitted. Without these the i30 is a 4-star rating. Optional extra. For the Holden Astra, its 4 star for the standard SD, 5 star for anything above. Optional upgrade. For the Toyota Yaris, its 5 stars with the safety pack, and less without. Optional safety pack.

These days iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, rain sensor windscreen wipers, shopping bag hooks and glove boxes with cooling systems all come as standard features in cars. Surely something is not right about these items as standard features, while maximum safety is an optional extra?

Should we really have to pay $3000+ for optimum safety in our cars?

Surely safety is a given right, and not a luxury?

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