Tips, Tricks & Trends

You Don’t Always Have to Pay a Lot to Get This High-End Safety Feature

Automatic emergency braking systems have long been included with top-trim vehicles. However, in 2015, about 20 automakers worldwide announced they had agreed to make AEB a standard feature on most new cars by September 2022. In late December 2019, Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced that Audi, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla would equip all of their light passenger vehicles with AEB technology. 

Now there are more affordable vehicles offering AEB today than ever before, leveling the car buying field. In late November 2020, U.S. News published “The Cheapest Cars With Automatic Emergency Braking in 2020,” revealing you can buy a vehicle with AEB technology for less than $21,000. Here are the top three cars on that list.

What is AEB exactly?

According to safercar.gov, AEB technology detects an imminent forward collision with obstructions or other vehicles. Depending on the vehicle’s speed, AEB can help drivers avoid or mitigate a crash. It works by alerting drivers that corrective action is required to avoid a collision. If the drivers’ response time is too slow, the AEB system automatically applies the brakes. Though AEB systems don’t always prevent collisions, they at least reduce their severity. In certain cases, that bit of braking assistance can mean the difference between life and death.

It’s also important to understand that not all AEB systems are the same. Primarily, automakers offer one or all of the following as AEB: pedestrian and cyclist detection systems, city speed systems, and highway speed systems. Other AEB systems are also available, such as crash imminent braking (CIB) and dynamic brake support (DBS). With the variety of AEB technologies, buyers should research the type of AEB system in a given model.

The 2021 Kia Soul S

Kia totally redesigned the Soul for 2020 and won U.S. News’ 2020 Best Subcompact SUV for the Money. The 2021 model remains mostly unchanged and provides a comfortable and roomy interior, spacious cargo capacity, and intuitive tech. It’s one level above the base LX trim.

At $20,590, it’s the highest-priced car on U.S. News’ list. The Soul S is the trim model that includes additional safety features such as driver-drowsiness monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and forward-collision warning.

The 2021 Subaru Impreza

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AEB technology comes standard only with Impreza trims featuring Lineartronic continuously variable transmissions (CVT). It starts at $20,095. These trims offer Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, including AEB features like sway warning with lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, pre-collision throttle control management, and a pre-collision braking system. 

Other handy features that come with Subaru’s EyeSight suite include lead vehicle start alert and adaptive cruise control. Despite the 2021 Impreza‘s cheap-looking interior, weak engine, and poor predicted reliability rating from U.S. News, it offers a spacious cabin, good fuel economy, and standard all-wheel drive.

The 2020 Nissan Sentra

Priced at $19,090, the 2020 Nissan Sentra is the third-highest-priced vehicle on the U.S. News list. It was completely redesigned with a modish interior style for 2020. The Sentra comes standard with Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 package, which also includes forward and reverse AEB technology. You get other features with Safety Shield 360, such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high-beams, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, and pedestrian detection. 

The 2020 Sentra provides a decent number of other standard features: driver-attention monitoring, a rearview camera, a rear-seat reminder, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment center, and front bucket seats with six-way manual adjustments. U.S. News pointed out the Sentra’s rivals offer better engines, more rear passenger headroom, and better-performing infotainment systems.