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Five Super-Safe Cars

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When safety is a priority, these vehicles deliver

Smart car buying begins with a set of criteria. Is it fuel efficiency you're looking for? How about reliability? Cool infotainment features? Chances are, when you're in the market for a new ride, there will be several attributes on your most wanted list, and, chances are, safety will be at or near the top.

Here are five what we would call super-safe cars. They go above and beyond the normal level of safety to offer drivers and families protection from both accidents and injuries.

Honda Accord

The Accord, long a stalwart of reliability, is also a leader in the realm of safety. It begins with the car's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which employs high-grade steel and a network of connected elements to distribute frontal crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle.

Additional facets of the Accord's safety system include anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, dual stage multi-threshold front airbags — which, according to Honda are "capable of being inflated at different rates depending on crash severity, seat-belt usage and/or other factors" — and front side air bags. Moreover, in order to better prevent accidents, an available Forward Collision Warning utilizes a camera atop the front windshield that detects hazards and activates visual and/or audible alerts.

Kia Optima

Riding a wave of popularity that the Kia brand is enjoying, the Optima is a critical and consumer favorite, and its safety features are top-notch.

According to 24/, which named the Optima to its "Safest Cars in America" list, "These cars have active headrests that react to the force of a crash; pretensioner seat belts that tighten in certain crash conditions; front and rear crumple zones to absorb the impact of crashes; electronic stability control; and a braking system that balances load with brake pressure."

Volvo S60

24/ also named the Volvo S60 to its list of the safest cars in America, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone because Volvo is a standard bearer for safety. What might surprise people is the addition of City Safety, an exciting new Pedestrian Detection feature.

"If you're about to hit something or someone, the car's collision warning and pedestrian detection systems will brake to prevent it," the Chicago Tribune explains. "Other features warn you if you wander out of your driving lane, follow too closely or are driving erratically."

Add to that the impressive design of the S60 and you have what the Tribune called "a feat of style of safety," adding that, "Piloting the S60 is a delight. The ride is steady and stable, with a taut feel that never turns punishing."

Dodge Grand Caravan

In the minivan department, the Dodge Grand Caravan was one of several vehicles that made AOL Autos' 2013 Safest Minivans list. "One of the most popular minivans around, the Grand Caravan is also one of the safest," the website wrote.

Dodge, which in fact invented the minivan, explains that the Grand Caravan's "seven airbags, including front multistage airbags, deploy on impact, while eight crush zones redirect force and energy from passengers. These features, along with roll resistance tires, active front head restraints, Electronic Stability Control and other accident avoidance measures made the Dodge Grand Caravan a 2012 IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) Top Safety Pick."

Chevy Malibu Eco

Asking the question, "Do small fuel-efficient cars compromise safety?" the website argues that fuel-efficient vehicles are becoming safer every year, and names the Malibu Eco as an example.

"The IIHS's latest round of top safety picks include a small fuel-efficient car like the Toyota Prius C hybrid and the midsized Chevrolet Malibu Eco," the website notes. As of November 2012, in fact, the 2013 Malibu Eco was the first and only all-new 2013 midsize car to be honored with top ratings by both the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Among the Eco's standard safety features are a body structure made up of 65 percent high strength and ultra-high strength steels; driver and front passenger dual-stage air bags, seat-mounted side air bags, knee air bags and head curtain side air bags; rollover sensors; StabiliTrak electronic stability control; and four-channel disc brakes with ABS.

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