Dear Tom and Ray:
Please settle a marital dispute. I currently drive a 2001 Jeep Cherokee 4x4 with 165,000 miles. She ain't what she used to be. I would like to get a very zippy Subaru Impreza. My husband believes this would be a poor choice for the safety of myself and my daughters. He believes that the older Cherokee is a safer vehicle than the new Subaru because of its size and construction. I say the new safety equipment makes the newer Subaru a wiser choice. We need a 4x4 or all-wheel drive to haul our future Olympic skiers to the mountains this winter. Please advise as to which car is safer. -- Angela
TOM: There's no question that the Subaru is safer, Angela. The 2001 Cherokee got mediocre safety ratings, and has only two air bags for the entire vehicle.
RAY: The 2012 Impreza, on the other hand, has so many bags, you'd think it just got back from a going-out-of-business sale. It's got front air bags, side bags, roof bags and knee bags. Plus, it's got anti-lock brakes, stability control and emergency brake assist. It's got a lower center of gravity, so it's less likely to flip over during an emergency maneuver, and it's got a modern all-wheel-drive system, which won't cause unpredictable handling on dry roads.
TOM: It's more structurally sound, too, with better passenger-compartment protection and door reinforcement. And because it's new, it'll be more reliable, so you and the kids won't get stranded in a blizzard someday and freeze to death.
RAY: Other than that, they're pretty much equivalent, Angela.