Case Study: Family Car Shopping

 In Auto Professor's Safest, Family Cars, Vehicle Safety

Elizabeth, age 40, heard about The Auto Professor’s Auto Grades while they were still being developed. The concept impressed her, and she wanted to know more. Both she and her husband David, 42, spend a lot of time in their cars, commuting to work and ferrying their seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son to and from various activities. So family car shopping had to include a lot of considerations. Their 2009 Volvo XC90 and 2013 Hyundai Sonata both had 5-star overall safety ratings, but how had they fared on the road, with drivers like them?

Through a mutual friend, Elizabeth contacted The Auto Professor’s founder, Norma, to ask for help evaluating their family’s cars. Norma started by giving Elizabeth and David the grades:

2009 Midsize SUV – Volvo XC90
Overall Auto Grade for all drivers: B+
Auto Grade for female drivers aged 31-50: A
Auto Grade for male drivers aged 31-50: A-

2013 Midsize Sedan – Hyundai Sonata
Overall Auto Grade for all drivers: B
Auto Grade for female drivers aged 31-50: B
Auto Grade for male drivers aged 31-50: B

Elizabeth and David felt that a B was not good enough for their peace of mind. They take care to prioritize their family’s health and wellness, and believe that they should prioritize their safety as well.


Realizing that Auto Grades provided information she could use to more effectively protect her family, Elizabeth explored affordable options to trade in the Sonata for a car with a better track record. While she and David liked the fuel efficiency of a sedan for family trips, she felt that safety was a much higher priority. She and David sat down to list their key car-buying considerations:

Safety: “First and foremost, the new vehicle for our family has to have an Auto Grade of an A.”

Budget: “Our new vehicle has to be one that we could purchase without financing. Our new vehicle has to be safe and within budget. Luxurious vehicles are a ‘nice to have,’ but ultimately, we want something that won’t ‘break the bank.’”

Respectful Car Buying Experience: “We want to be taken seriously and treated with respect. Our family has a good understanding of what we can and cannot afford, and we don’t appreciate being ‘upsold’ or pushed into making a large purchase in a pressure situation.”


Ultimately, they only made one trip to a single dealership because they felt as though they went in fully informed. Family car shopping was so easy! They had paired the Auto Grades for the entire inventory of used cars at the dealership with the car prices and their budget. The salesman treated them with respect and shortly, everyone arrived at a deal. Elizabeth and David traded their midsize sedan for a:

Elizabeth and David are extremely happy with their purchase, both in terms of safety and cost effectiveness.


After having such a pleasant car buying experience with their first purchase, Elizabeth and David returned to the same dealership two months later. Though their 2009 Volvo XC90 had a great Auto Grade, they wanted (or needed!) better air conditioning for the coming summer. Purchasing became a breeze.

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