Being Cool: Coolest Cars Under 20K are Not the Safest

 In Auto Grades, Auto Professor's Safest, Small Cars, Vehicle Safety

Kelley Blue Book recently named their 10 Coolest New Cars under $20,000. Their experts chose these vehicles to show the public that there are vehicles with “more affordable price that don’t sacrifice comfort and style.” The editors are very frank in saying that their list is compiled based on a “very subjective ‘cool factor’ “.

We give their #1 choice Kia Soul an Auto Grade of A- for women 31-50 years old, but an F for older gentlemen.

Starting with their #1 pick, 2019 Kia Soul. This vehicles has quite a variety of Auto Grades depending on the type of driver, as shown below. For example, for the female driver in the 31-50 age group, we rate the Soul with an A-, but for gentleman driver over 50, we deem the Kia Soul a very poor choice – it gets our worst rating of F! Why? It’s a combination of driver behavior and physique. Middle-aged women tend to be more cautious drivers and older gentlemen are not necessarily cautious and typically more frail.

Kelley Blue Book Cool Choices

Grade C-

2019 Kia Soul

2019 Honda Civic

2019 Volkswagen Golf







We understand how “cool” and affordable can be important criteria in selecting a new car, especially for people who have long commutes, so we encourage you to consider other vehicles on the list. Most of the other vehicles get ratings in the B and C range, such as the Honda Civic shown above. Some of the other vehicles on the list, such as the Hyundai Kona and Nissan Kicks are too new to receive an Auto Grade.

The highest rated “cool” vehicle on the list is the Volkswagen Golf with an A-.

Not surprisingly, all these “cool” and inexpensive vehicles received 5 star safety ratings. These ratings mean very little because it only implies that the vehicle performed well in comparison to a vehicle similar to itself. For example, the Honda Civic received 5 star safety rating, but only compared to other vehicles like the Honda Civic. Read more about Rating Systems.

As we have discussed in other blogs, there is an important difference between safety and protection. We can be the most cautious, mindful driver on the road, but you need to choose the car that provides the best protection from other vehicles on the road, human error or uncontrollable environmental problems. Read more about the difference between Safety and Protection.

Still want one of these ‘cool cars’? We suggest that you equip the vehicle with as much of the safety features that you can afford.

Since we have launched our site and our rating system, the question often arises: what if I like the car but not the Auto Grade rating, is there something I can do? Yes, we suggest that you equip the vehicle with as much of the safety features that you can afford. These are designed to help prevent a crash and, perhaps, in the end, offer you more protection.

Working together to create a world where everyone walks away from a crash.