6 hybrids have important safety feature

This is a follow up to the article ranking the 5 safest hybrids. I stand by my methods but I think a fair criticism was that I might have missed safer hybrids if I had started with a larger test group. I repeated this test using the methodology of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) own rankings for safest cars. Every car on their lists included Electronic Stability Control (ESC).

"Electronic stability control, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is the biggest lifesaver since seat belts. It's so effective that the NHTSA estimates 4,200 to 5,400 of the 10,000 deaths caused each year in rollover accidents could be prevented if it were on all vehicles" according to the Boston Globe. So, which hybrids have Electronic Stability Control? Six in 2007 according to this list.
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid
  • Honda Accord Hybrid
  • Prius
  • Lexus 450h
  • Lexus 400h
The Camry and Highlander were on my first list. I did not include the Accord because of the MPG rating of 24 city and 32 highway, which is not great. It has a lesser crash test rating than the Camry but let's be clear, all the hybrids have 4 or 5 star ratings which is very good. Even with a lower MPG, I must admit the inclusion of ESC might put the Accord ahead of other hybrids in my first list.

I was a little shocked so few hybrids had this feature. So I guess it may be best just to award one hybrid, in class. So AutoblogGreen's opinion of the safest hybrid for 2007 passenger car is the Toyota Camry Hybrid. The safest SUV is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Federal regulars will require all cars to include ESC by 2012. We will rank 2008 hybrids as crash data becomes available.

Addendum: It appears the absence of stability control may be due to the complexity of combining regenerative braking, friction braking and slip control systems. Blending regen and friction braking seamlessly is a non-trivial problem and throwing additional brake control just adds to that. As new hybrids come to market in the next couple of years, upgraded brake control systems will allow them to add the extra functionality of keeping the vehicle pointed where the driver wants to go.

(fellow AutoblogGreen blogger Sam Abuelsamid contributed to this article)

Update 1: I missed 3 hybrids on the list of cars with ESC when this article was first published. The Prius, Lexus 450h and Lexus 400h.

Update 2: The hybrids Lexuses are not rated. The Prius ranks lower than the Camry. So, the award of Camry as safest hybrid stands.

Update 3: It seems the Aura hybrid has ESC but is not listed by safercar.gov. I am looking into that. I am also looking into general safety controls of hybrids to see if cars without ESC but with exceptional controls are ignored.

[Source: Safercar.gov]

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