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I'm looking for a vehicle - 1st time Mom, moving to Colorado in the next year, no idea how to drive in snow, 6ft tall, aversion to wagons and minivans and want safe, safe, safe.

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Amy Mattinat, Owner and Author at Auto Craftsmen Ltd Hi Polly, Here is some information on SUVs and their safety: Sport utility vehicles are making strides to avoid rollovers, the government says, noting that seven in 10 new SUVs are equipped with rollover-reducing electronic stability control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released new rollover results for 2006 vehicles Tuesday, finding that 39 SUVs earned four-star ratings. SUVs have showed steady improvements in the testing; two dozen SUVs received four stars last year and only one SUV tested that well in 2001. No SUV earned a top five-star rating. The results — available at — are used by consumers to assess a vehicle's ability to reduce rollovers, which kill more than 10,000 motorists in the United States annually. Electronic stability control is an anti-rollover system in which brakes are automatically applied when the vehicle begins skidding off course, helping to steady the vehicle. The government's traffic safety agency said 69 percent of all SUVs from the 2006 model year now offer the technology as standard equipment, a significant jump from 43 percent of 2005 SUVs with standard stability control. Newly tested SUVs that received four stars included: the Chevrolet HHR, Honda Pilot, Toyota RAV4, Subaru B9 Tribeca, Hyundai Tucson, Mercedes-Benz ML Class, Suzuki Grand Vitara and 4-by-4 versions of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer. Among top-scoring SUVs, the HHR had a 14 percent chance of rollover and 4-by-4 versions of the Pilot had a 15 percent chance of rollover. The 4-by-4 version of the Nissan XTerra had a 25 percent chance of rollover, the highest percentage among the new SUVs tested. The 4-by-2 version of the XTerra, the 4-by-2 Chevrolet Tahoe and Hummer H3 had a 24 percent chance of rollover. Those vehicles received three stars. Among passenger cars, the Pontiac G6 and the Buick Lucerne were the only vehicles to receive five stars. The eight-passenger Chevrolet Express 1500 van was the only new vehicle that tipped over in testing; it received three stars and had a 28 percent chance of rollover. GM spokesman Alan Adler said 2007 versions of the van will have stability control as a standard feature. The Ford E350 XLT Super Duty van received two stars and had a 30 percent chance of rollover. Ford spokesman Dan Jarvis said the van is safe and noted that some of its ratings were derived from the vehicle's dimensions. Jarvis said the wheels stayed on the ground during similar internal testing. "We think that should be a true measure of a star rating," he said. Under the ratings system, a vehicle with five stars has a rollover risk of less than 10 percent while a four-star vehicle has a 10 percent to 20 percent risk. Three-star vehicles have a 20 percent to 30 percent risk. Government studies have found stability control reduces single-vehicle sport utility crashes by 67 percent and one-car crashes by 35 percent compared with the same models sold in previous years without the technology. NHTSA is expected to issue a new proposal later this year specifying a performance criteria for stability control, which was first introduced by Mercedes-Benz in 1995. Robert Strassburger, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers' vice president of safety, said automakers have aggressively implemented the technology into vehicles because it saves an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 lives a year, making it comparable to seat belts in terms of safety benefits. Amy says: Polly, To make sure you are safe, safe, safe, I would recommend you purchase a vehicle that has All Wheel Drive, and put snow tires on for the winter season. If you don't want a wagon or minivan, you could get a Subaru Sedan or a SUV. Even if you don't purchase a 4 wheel drive vehicle, Winter Tires can be your key to Safety. If you own a vehicle with a healthy engine, a strong transmission, a beefy suspension and great brakes, but your tires don’t grip the road properly, then you have no traction and no control. It is the tires that determine the type of traction, grip and control that you have with your car. If you add up the amount you paid for the vehicle + the cost of car insurance + the maintenance and repairs you have in the car + the new stereo you bought for it, the cost of good tires may be one of the most economical purchases you can make. To help illustrate how important tire traction is, I’d like you take a sheet of paper 8½x11 and fold it length wise, then width wise. This is approximately the size of the contact patch of each tire. The traction of these tires must handle the job of starting, accelerating, steering and stopping. A big job for a small amount of rubber rolling on the ground. The compounds that make up a tire vary quite a bit depending on what kind of weather and the intended purpose the tires will be used for. In general, summer tires are made to last long, all-season tires are compromised to accommodate summer and mild winter conditions, and winter tires are made to handle snow and cold temperatures. Winter Tires are made up of softer rubber compounds then summer or all-season tires. The tread blocks of winter tires, dig into the snow and the sipes (or slits) bite into and grip the snow for traction. Winter tires also have a “self cleaning tread design”. This means that as the tires roll over the snow, they use the snow for traction and then release the snow so it can trap it again for traction and release it again, etc. etc. etc. The softer rubber compounds are also designed with cold temperatures in mind. Whereas summer tires and all-season tires lose their grip as these tires harden in temperatures below –10 C, winter tires keep on gripping. Always put on 4 winter tires. Running only 2 winter tires or 2 studded winter tires is like wearing a Sorrel winter boot on one foot and a sneaker on the other. Whenever you “swap” your tires in the spring or fall, store them upright in a clean indoor location, free from heat, and exposure to sunlight. If they are stored on their rims, reduce the tire pressure to approximately 15 psi to avoid possible cracking and deformation.

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