And they're definitely worth it.
There are many new car buyers whose top priority is safety and they're willing to pay extra for it. That's fine but what about those lacking the ability to stretch their budgets? Why should something as vital and basic as safety cost so much more? Think of it like this: all new vehicles are safe today, some are just safer than others thanks to numerous advanced systems, and one of the safest new vehicles out there is the Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid. It recently received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top score of Top Safety Pick + (TSP+).
That Camry trim only starts at $33,715 and increases to $39,185 with the TSP+ required features, specifically adaptive headlights. Factoring in taxes and destination and handling fees and the final price will be just over $40,000. To compare, a brand new BMW 3 Series begins at $40,750.
There are actually very few vehicles, such as the Honda Insight and Genesis G90, which received the TSP+ rating without pricey options. The good news, according to CarsDirect, is that more automakers are beginning to add more top safety features to entry-level models. An IISH spokesperson admitted that "manufacturers are dropping the headlights that are sub-par performers in our nighttime track tests."
Two new models also recently earned a TSP+ rating in base trim: the Subaru Ascent and Acura RDX. While that's certainly good news, Toyota has yet to make trim changes for the new model year that involve reducing the price for adaptive headlights or, alternatively, making them standard in some trim levels.
But like with any new technology, safety or not, these things have a long history of trickling down to less expensive vehicles in general. Take airbags, for example. Frontal airbags were not even standard equipment in all passenger vehicles before the 1998 model year. The following year they became standard in trucks and vans as well. Mercedes-Benz made anti-lock brakes standard in its entire lineup in 1984, something considered quite revolutionary at the time but also kind of expected from a luxury brand.
Today, both airbags and ABS brakes are standard on every new vehicle regardless of the base price. But for now, those Camry shoppers who desire maximum safety will have to spend 3 Series money.