You might think fuel economy would be the most important factor in a consumer's selection of a new car, but according to a new poll, it's not. Safety is.

The survey, conducted by Swapalease.com, an online marketplace for in-process vehicle leases, found that more than 60 percent of its users chose safety as the most important consideration in selecting a new car.

Safety outranks “style and appearance,” which garnered 30 percent, “luxury and convenience,” at 12 percent and “electronic features,” at nine percent.

"Safety has long been high on the list for prospective car buyers or lessees, and our survey shows that changing times don't always change people's priorities," said Scot Hall, EVP of Operations, of Swapalease.com. "Thanks to today's technology, we have an ever-growing list of features that make cars safer than ever before."

Blind-spot warning

What's the most important safety feature for drivers? Thirty-two percent said a blind-spot warning system was their favorite feature. Close behind were hands-free calling and a back-up camera.

"It's interesting to note that people are so interested in the blind-spot warning system. It's the very latest in safety technology, and I know from personal experience that it's a wonderful feature," said Hall. "It's also currently priced at a premium, so whether consumer will put their money where their opinions are remains to be seen."

Safest cars

What cars have the most safety features? Last month the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recognized three vehicles - The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco, a midsize hybrid; 2012 Hyundai Azera, a large family car; and 2012 Toyota Prius c, a small hybrid - with the Institute's top award for good performance in front, side, rollover and rear impact evaluations.

In the luxury and convenience category, heated/cooled seats were by far the most desired features. Next in order of rank were memory settings for things like seat and steering wheel placement; rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a heated steering wheel.

In just a few years, GPS navigation systems have almost something drivers consider a standard option. In the electronics category, more than half the participating drivers selected that as a must-have feature.

With the majority of other technology features falling in the entertainment category, iPod/MP3 compatibility was much more important than a CD or DVD players – 24 percent compared to 11 percent and 9 percent respectively.

Upgraded interior trim and upgraded wheels took the top spots for style needs.


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