Car Talk: Grandma con­sid­ers trad­ing for safety’s sake

The Wichita Eagle - - Home & Garden - BY RAY MAGLIOZZI King Fea­tures Syn­di­cate Visit

Dear Car Talk: I’m a 67year-old grand­mother driv­ing my dream car – a 2009 red Lexus IS 250 with only 52,000 miles on it. I love this car, but my hus­band is strongly urg­ing me to get a new one. His ra­tio­nale: Even though it is a great car and doesn’t have a ton of miles, things are go­ing to start go­ing wrong.

I re­cently had to have the left side mirror re­placed be­cause some­thing broke in­side, so he may be right. He also wants me to have all the au­to­matic brak­ing and stuff be­cause I am of a cer­tain age. What do you think? Are there any sporty SUVs out there?

– Janet

Hey, there’s prob­a­bly stuff go­ing wrong with him, too, Janet, but you’re not trad­ing him in yet, are you? He’s mostly right, ac­tu­ally. Eco­nom­i­cally speak­ing, it’s cer­tainly cheaper to keep your old car. But older cars, by def­i­ni­tion, are not as re­li­able. And if it’s not a fi­nan­cial hard­ship for you, we agree with him com­pletely on the new safety equip­ment. Since you bought your Lexus in 2009, all kinds of elec­tronic-based safety sys­tems have be­come com­mon. And they’re all great.

You can get city and high­way speed au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing – so if you’re dis­tracted for a mo­ment and don’t see a car or a pedes­trian in front of you, the car will alert you and then brake it­self if you don’t re­spond. .

There’s blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing, so you don’t have to twist your head around and pray when chang­ing lanes. There’s a de­vice to let you know when you’re drift­ing out of your lane, and an­other to let you know if there’s traf­fic com­ing down your street while you’re back­ing out of your drive­way. You can get all that stuff on many new cars now. And you should. It’s par­tic­u­larly great for older driv­ers whose re­flexes and neck flex­i­bil­ity are not what they once were.

If you’ve liked your Lexus and want to try a sporty-ish SUV, you can try some­thing like the Lexus NX 300. If that doesn’t suit you, there’s the BMW X1, the Audi Q3, the Volvo XC40, the Acura RDX, the Lin­coln MKC, the Cadil­lac XT4, or any num­ber of oth­ers. As you can see, small crossovers are very pop­u­lar right now, so there are a lot of op­tions.

But do be care­ful when you make your pur­chase. Many man­u­fac­tur­ers of­fer the safety stuff as op­tional equip­ment. Or they’ll of­fer some of it as stan­dard equip­ment (like low-speed au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing), and some of it only with high-priced op­tion pack­ages (high­speed emer­gency brak­ing and blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing). So be very spe­cific about what you want, and make sure you get all of it.

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