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What Are The Safest Cars to Rent?

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Road blurRoads and highways will soon be stuffed with cars as millions of Americans gear up to make Thanksgiving road trips.

After a hefty meal, a generous dose of tryptophan and an adult beverage or two, the road can be a dangerous place.

So how can you keep your family safe? If you’re renting a car this holiday season, we have a guide to the safest vehicles and some you may want to avoid …

Rental-car companies offer vehicles in different classes like economy, luxury and SUV. If you’re looking for an economy car, be aware that you get what you pay for—standard models like the Chevy Aveo or the Hyundai Accent have some of the poorest safety ratings of vehicles in any class.

Instead, see if you can rent a Kia Soul, which was a 2010 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety top safety pick.

Although they may not be classified as “economy” models, other small cars like the Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza and Volkswagen Golf are safer picks. If possible, steer clear of the Kia Rio, which consistently ranks at the bottom of safety lists.

When considering which car to rent, don’t forget that a vehicle’s weight plays a heavy role in safety. Physics dictates that in a front to front collision at the same speed, the heavier car will push the lighter car back during impact, which means the velocity change of the heavier car will be much less than that of the lighter car.

Find out what you need to know: Don’t Break Rental Car Rules

4x4 road tripIf you’re considering a large or midsize car, keep an eye out for top safety picks like the Dodge Avenger, Chrysler Sebring, Chevrolet Malibu, Subaru Outback, Buick LaCrosse or Ford Taurus.

If you’re looking for an SUV, ask if they have a Honda Element, Dodge Journey, Subaru Forester, Jeep Patriot or Volkswagen Tiguan in their fleet. You may want to avoid Chrysler’s PT Cruiser. While you’re browsing these bigger models, ask for one that has some form of electronic stability control, which reduces the risk of rollover and minimizes skids.

Now that you know what to rent, find out who to rent from with Car Rental Customer Survey Says: Satisfaction Steady

Before renting, consider what kind of driving you’ll be doing. These safety suggestions are more pertinent to those who will be logging a lot of miles on highways at more dangerous speeds than those who will be taking mostly short trips on urban roads.

No rental car company will give you the keys to a coffin on wheels, so if you can’t find a rental car with the highest safety ratings, don’t worry. By minimizing distractions and being aware of the other vehicles on the road, you can still make it home in one piece.

By Dan Bence for PeterGreenberg.com.

Related Links: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, TheTruthAboutCars.com, Smart Motorist

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