There was a time when American consumers cared far less about safety than style when it came to their vehicles. Advances in technology and manufacturing processes, however, have made today’s new cars and trucks safer than ever before, and consumers now consider safety a key factor when choosing a new or used vehicle.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in cooperation with insure.com, has released a new report that reinforces the idea that, when it comes to safety; bigger is better.
The GMC Sierra 1500 pickup topped the list of safest vehicles. IIHS spokesman Russ Rader said, “If safety is a priority, you should avoid the smallest cars. Weight counts. Smaller, lighter cars are safer than they used to be, but all things being equal, people riding in bigger, heavier vehicles get more protection in crashes.”
In fact, GMC took four of the top five spots in the study’s list of safest vehicles. Reinforcing that idea that size matters is that fact that the Fiat 500 small car was determined to be the least-safe vehicle tested. Second only to the Sierra pickup in overall safety, is the Porsche Cayenne four-door sports car.
Although Toyota has long been considered one of the safest and most reliable brands, it did not fare well in the study. In fact, the Toyota Carolla L was ranked No. 3, behind the Fiat 500 and Kia Rio 5 SUV, on the list of least-safe vehicles. Rounding out the list of five least safe vehicles was the Misubishi Lancer Ralliart sedan, and the Mercedes-Benz CL600 sedan.
The major takeaway according to Rader is that advanced engineering and safety technologies are still subject to the basic laws of physics. “Weight counts,” said Rader. “Smaller, lighter cars are safer than they used to be, but all things being equal, people riding in bigger, heavier vehicles get more protection in crashes.”
The Fiat 500 had won high marks for safety in prior crash tests performed by the IIHS. However, the insure.com study analyzed medical payment and personal injury claims records of actual owners, which the organization says give a better idea of how well vehicles protect people (not crash test dummies) in real world situations.