9 New Cars Offering 5-Star Safety for Under $20K

In terms of keeping passengers safe, large automobiles have a better go of it than their smaller counterparts. There is just more steel and hard plastic standing in the way of car occupants in larger vehicles. Still, the advances in safety technology have led to safer new automobiles in each of the different industry segments.

For the 2015 model year, there are even nine small cars that managed to rack up an overall five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at a sticker price below $20,000. Here are the nine new cars awarded an overall safety rating of five stars by the NHTSA in that price range for the 2015 model year, listed from the highest sticker price in the bunch to the lowest.

Quoted prices come from the manufacturers’ websites, while crash test information and safety ratings are from the NHTSA’s Safercar.gov.

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9. 2015 Mazda3 ($18,945)

The Mazda3 has never been short on praise from auto critics, drivers, or lovers of solid fuel economy. In the 2015 model, the Mazda3 also has a five-star overall safety rating. It aced both the frontal crash and side crash tests for a perfect five out of five stars while scoring four of five stars on the rollover test. Details of each test and video are posted on the NHTSA site for consumer review.

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8. 2015 Honda Civic Sedan ($18,490)

While Honda’s two-door compact did not make the cut, the 2015 Civic sedan brought home an overall five-star safety rating for the automaker. Breaking down each test, the Civic sedan scored four of five stars in the front crash test, a perfect five stars in the side crash test, and four of five stars in the rollover test. Prior to these scores for the 2015 model year, the 2014 Civic received a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).


7. 2015 Hyundai Veloster ($18,000)

With a “stealth” third door, 35 miles per gallon on the highway, and affordable turbo options, there is plenty to like about the 2015 Hyundai Veloster. Its five-star safety rating is one more notch on its dashboard. Velosters brought in by the NHTSA bagged an overall five-star rating on the latest round of crash tests. Broken down, that includes five stars out of five in side crash tests, four of five stars in front crash tests, and four out of five stars for the rollover test. For lovers of speed, turbo options begin at $21,600.

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6. 2015 Volkswagen Jetta ($17,325)

In what has been a monumental year for Volkswagen, the German automaker continues its push on U.S. consumers with a well-rounded 2015 lineup of refined and efficient cars. VW has the safety factor down as well in its new lineup. Though the 2015 Golf has yet to get its final score from the NHTSA, the 2015 Beetle (just out of this price range) and the 2015 Jetta have already notched five-star safety ratings. The Jetta’s four of five stars in rollover and front crash tests combined with the perfect side crash score to land the car five stars overall.


5. 2015 Hyundai Elantra ($17,250)

The run of safe yet highly affordable cars continues with the 2015 Elantra, a compact that can get 38 miles per gallon on the highway and has been named a Top Safety Pick for 2014 by the IIHS. Matching the performance of many other cars on this list, the new Hyundai Elantra managed a perfect five stars in the side crash tests while scoring four out of five stars in the rollover and front crash tests. Elantra in SE trim remains one of the most reasonable cars on the market, though headroom is one area where it is lacking.


4. 2015 Toyota Corolla ($16,900)

The Ford Focus’s claims to the title notwithstanding, the Toyota Corolla remains one of the best-selling cars on the planet. Corolla’s 2014 models didn’t receive great reviews during IIHS testing, but the 2015 Corolla (not yet tested by IIHS) has received five stars overall from the NHTSA. That score included a perfect five stars in both front and side crash tests plus four of five stars in the rollover test.There are eight standard airbags in the 2015 model, which has four trims starting below $20K.

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3. 2015 Dodge Dart ($16,495)

Consumers searching for an ultra-efficient, safe car will find a solution in the 2015 Dodge Dart with three trims that start below $20K. Winner of the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2014 (the highest honor), the 2015 Dart notched five stars on its NHTSA crash tests as well. Taken one by one, the Dart scored five of five stars in both the front crash and side crash tests while posting four of five stars in the rollover test. Efficiency peaks at 41 miles per gallon on the highway.


2. 2015 Kia Forte ($15,890)

Cars that start below $16K and can lay claim to high safety ratings are few and far between, but the Kia Forte is one of two 2015 model-year cars that is in the club. Its LX trim can get 39 miles per gallon on the highway, while consumers opting for the 173 horsepower in the EX model still won’t confront a starting price above $20K. Both models received an overall five stars from the NHTSA. Forte nailed a perfect five stars in the side crash test while posting four of five stars in the rollover and front crash tests.

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1. 2015 Chevy Sonic ($14,245)

To find a five-star safety rating and a base MSRP below $15K, the Chevy Sonic is the only car that fits the bill for the 2o15 model year. A turbocharged engine ($18,835) is available for drivers who want more power, but the base model offers 40 miles per gallon efficiency on the highway. Safety specs are also impressive in the 2015 Sonic. Included in its overall five-star NHTSA safety rating were perfect scores on front and side crash tests, followed by four of five stars in the rollover test. It’s as safe and cheap as it gets.