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January 20, 2009


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I am also looking for an inexpensive small fun car with ESC and active front-seat headrests. Many small cars do not offer ESC (e.g. Honda Fit, Nissan Versa) or it is only available on an expensive model (e.g. Toyota Matrix XRS & Corolla XRS, Honda Civic EX-L or Si). The Pontiac Matrix has both but they gouge you with packages if you want A/C and alloy wheels. Isabel's God-daughter should consider a Saturn Astra which was AJAC's Best New Small Car for 2008. Saturn is now offering a $6,000 cash incentive for a new 2008 XR 3-door which comes very well equipped with StabiliTrak, active front seat head restraints, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 6 air bags, pedal release system, tire pressure monitor, theft-deterrent system, OnStar, AM/FM with CD player, MP3 playback and 6 speakers, A/C, cruise control, quick ratio PS, PW, PDL with remote keyless entry, driver lumbar and seat height adjuster, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, sunglass storage, driver and passenger illuminated vanity mirrors, 12-volt power outlet, power adjustable heated side mirrors (manual folding), front intermittent windshield wipers with RainSense feature, rear speed-sensitive wiper, 17-inch alloy wheels with P225/45R17 all-season performance tires and sport handling package. And it is good looking too.

John Frewen-Lord

Good article Jim, and sound advice - but not complete. I believe we have talked just recently about proper lighting systems?? A critical and essential of the safety envelope in my book - if a vehicle does not have decent lights, front, side and rear, then it falls off my shopping list.

Kevin Corrigan

Good advice Jim, and I especially liked your viewpoint on Advanced Driving Courses.

Why is it, parents will buy their kids expensive iPods for Christmas, but won't consider a driving course (Which could save their child's life) as an alternative present. I've taken a few, as I know you have. Not only are they one of the smartest investments that any driver (of any age) can make, but they are also a lot of fun. In my mind, it's the present "that keeps on giving" because although the lessons learned may go into the back of the brain, in an emergency situation, they automatically come flying back.

I know that "all the other kids have an iPod", and that parents just want to make their kids happy, but the odds of those children being involved in an accident at some time in their lives is pretty much a certainty. Yes, an MP3 player might survive a crash, and still be usable afterwards, but wouldn't it be better if their loved ones managed to avoid the incident entirely!

David White

For ESC explanation, try YOUTUBE....ESC 3 letters to save your life.

Jim Kenzie

Hi Norman:

The Pontiac "Matrix" is, of course, the Vibe - mechanically identical to the Toyota Matrix, with different styling, equipment, and packages.

Jim Kenzie

Try it on YOUTUBE?

I hosted that video!

Hope you all take a look...

Jim Kenzie

Bob Johnston

Our 2007 KIA Rondo has both active front seat head restraints and electronic stability control, not to mention ABS and heated mirrors, all standard equipment.
We bought it used with 14,000 km for less than $20,000.

Mike T.

Jim, give us the address of you ESC YouTube video please.

Jim Kenzie

Hi Mike:

I haven't figured out how to copy web URLs as directly-accessible links into this blog yet.

But if you cut-and-paste the following into your browser:


it should find it.

Failing that, Google "YouTube ESC three letters" and it will be the first thing it returns.

Jim Kenzie


Nothing beats good driver training for safe driving especially as hgv drivers in the UK can now start driving at 18 (previously 21). The new legislation now requires drivers to carry out Driver CPC training and therefore commit to ongoing training which has to be a good thing.


WOW! Fantastic tips. This is nice blog This is more informative for all to know about defensive driving.Learning defensive driving had always been a problem with my friends as they hate to attend classes for the full time.


Every state government has strict rules and regulations to get a first time driver license. Generally teens at the time of driving should be more focused on there driving rather on other distrusting actions or jobs. I hope these kind of small corrections can cut down many accidents.

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