Q: I am a single
woman in my mid-70s, and I still drive my 1992 Volvo 240 sedan,
although I canít find an affordable mechanic, which makes me very
uneasy. About 45 years ago, I almost was killed when a Mazda with a
mentally ill driver slammed into my VW bug at about 40 mph, and I
still have physical limitations as a result. I purchased a Dodge
Dart, the sturdiest car I could find until it died a natural death
and then got the Volvo, another sturdiest car I could find.
My friends say newer
cars are much safer than old Volvos and I should replace it with a
more common car like a Toyota or Honda hybrid, preferably with crush
zones, special sensing equipment and safety equipment. I doubt I
will be driving in five years and wonder about this advice. I can
afford a new car, but hesitate because they are small and have a
plastic look, and I am unused to that swept back windshield that
reduces wind resistance. Clearly, I am very ignorant about cars,
something one friend said you knew a lot about. I have no family for
guidance. So I am asking for your advice.
A: Thereís no
question your Volvo is built like a tank! I can still recall the
bank vault door sound mine made when closing a door! I believe your
240 has a single driverís side air bag and knee bolster, along
with anti-lock brakes. How things have changed!
Letís look at a new
Honda Accordís safety features by comparison: Driver and passenger
air bags, front and rear head air bags, front side air bags, 4-wheel
ABS, brake assist, electronic stability control, daytime running
lights, traction control, lane departure warning, lane keeping
assist, lane watch, cross traffic monitor, collision mitigation and
auto high beams.
have also been made in occupant protection related to body design
with crumple zones, as you mentioned.
Many of the features
can help protect you from boo-boos you might make, in addition to
the craziness of others who are inattentive or simply rude. I notice
that as the years go by I make more mistakes per mile, missing
something from the corner of my eye or because my reaction time has
Adding cameras to the
car sure helps, Iíll bet youíd really like the lane watch and
cross traffic features once youíve tried them! Collision
mitigation and brake assist are also great features to compensate
for reduced reaction time. Radar senses your proximity and closing
velocity to vehicles ahead and dives on the brakes as needed to
reduce the chance of hitting another vehicle or object. Brake assist
looks at brake pedal urgency and ramps up assist, teaming with ABS
to compensate for tentative/insufficient braking efforts.
Thereís no question
modern cars are heavy on plastic, but once you try out the comfort,
quietness and convenience features, youíre likely to never look
back! Added piece of mind would come from driving a car under
warranty for several years. Perhaps you might rent an Accord, Camry
or similar for a weekend, take a friend along and explore the
features together? Then you can decide whatís best for you!