- Proper design of the car;
- The use of high quality construction materials and parts; and
- Continuous refinement of the car’s design to improve performance and reliability.
These are attributes of a manufacturer, not of this or that car model. With very few exceptions, you can say that there are car manufacturers that make safe, reliable, and durable cars; and there are car manufacturers whose cars are less safe or less reliable or both. And among cars made by manufacturers of safe, reliable, and durable cars, there are models of fast and fun-to-drive cars as well.
So my recommendation is: buy your car from a manufacturer that has a strong record of producing safe, reliable, and durable cars. But how are you going to find such a manufacturer? Let’s start with safety.
To determine safety, we can use data collected by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which collects data about the number of deaths incurred by each car model. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also collects data about injuries and medical expenses experienced by drivers and passengers of each car model. These data help us choose manufacturers that build safe cars.
In the table below, averages of death rates, injuries, and medical expenses are calculated for each car manufacturer and compared to the overall average. In the table, negative numbers are better, since they indicate death and injury rates below average. Death and injury rates increase as you go down the table. Manufacturers listed at the top (in GREEN) have below average fatalities and injuries; manufacturers listed at the bottom (in RED) have above average fatalities and injuries. Clearly, it’s better to get a car from a manufacturer listed in green.