When you head out to buy a new car, what is the first thing you consider? Price? Performance?
For many consumers, when selecting a new car, safety is definitely a big concern but with high prices at the pumps holding steady over the last few years, gas mileage is by far at the top of the list.
Safety comes in third, below quality according to a Consumer Reportssurvey, published in May of 2012. Value and performance were two other qualities shoppers looked for.
Dealers on Long Island say that depending on the model of vehicle, safety is a factor for their customers and new technology is fast improving on standard protective features. Even the sturdy seatbelt is getting an upgrade.
When John Feinberg went out looking for a new car, the student and volunteer firefighter definitely had reliability and safety in mind.
“All Wheel Drive was important to me, as being a first responder, I need to be ready in all weather conditions,” he said of the 2013 Subaru Impreza he recently purchased from a dealer in Smithtown. “A Mustang would not have done well in Nemo.”
Justin Haynes is the General Manager of the Atlantic Audi store in West Islip, one of Atlantic Auto Groups’s newest dealerships. He perceives his Audi customers a bit differently than customers shopping for other brands, especially when it comes to safety.
“Of course our customers are concerned about safety, but questions about safety are not as predominant as one might think,” said Haynes, a former defensive tackle with the Georgetown Hoyas. “Our clients are incredibly informed and educated on features and the ratings of our cars before they walk into the store.”
Donald Awe is the General Manager of Atlantic Volkswagen, also in West Islip, in the same group of dealerships. He says his customers are conscious of safety.
“Our customers are very much concerned about safety ratings and features,” said Awe who recently joined the Atlantic Group from the Penske organization. “Accordingly VW will focus on such features as rear cameras, vehicle response systems that control braking, accident avoidance systems, reverse response systems to avoid hitting objects, both stationary and otherwise.”
Inflatable seat belts and radar that tells you if you’re getting too close to the car in front of you are two technologies that Ford has put in its cars to make them safer, according to Wayne Rampone Jr., Vice President at Ramp Ford in Port Jefferson Station.
“The seat belts looks like a balloon material and fills up with air to protect when you’re thrust against it,” Rampone Jr. said. Mostly installed in back seats, the new inflatable seat belts are currently available in Ford Explorers.
Adaptive cruise control will allow drivers to set their speed as with the typical system but the added advantage is that the car monitors the distance between you and the person driving in front of you.
“Radar senses the distance and slows the car down,” said Rampone Jr. An alert system puts a red light on the windshield and makes a sound when the car is getting too close.
He said that his customers also ask about safety crash test ratings when they shop at his dealership.
Ratings systems help consumers to see if the car of their choice also conforms to the highest safety standards. Along with all of the car review magazines and automotive safety advocacy groups, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star Safety Ratings System provides people with a database that rates individual models in accident safety. (The program is also called the New Car Assessment Program.) The program was started in 1978 with changes made in 1997 and 2001 to include side-impact and rollover ratings. Five stars is the highest rating, one is the lowest.
When Feinberg purchased his new car he used a variety of safety reviews to rate it and was happy to find his first choice was high on the list.