Are new small cars as dangerous as SUVs to other cars?

I caught this crash test on youtube, a new Renault Modus vs a Volvo 940. My Dad had such a Volvo and while he didn’t buy it for the sake of safety, it was assumed that was a nice bonus. But in the video the driver of the Volvo seems to come off reasonably badly.

I thought that older small cars would do poorly in a crash regardless, or might even do better crashing into a new car, if its crumple zones slow the rate of impact overall. Are older car drivers at a greater risk at all?

It’s a battle of brute strength and physical mass vs technology and engineering.

Between the two, I’d rather be in that newer small car than the old tank. If nothing else, newer cars will have airbags (usually several of them), better head restraints and crumple zones, all designed to sacrifice themselve to protect the meat inside.

That mammoth Volvo wagon pretty much only had its own weight and inertia, and the meat got pretty badly tossed around.

And remember, you can’t just compare a head to head crash with “how dangerous” a car is. Big SUV’s do quite well in a head to head crash with a compact, but their death rate per mile is much higher- as you need to remember accidents where you don’t hit another car, such as a roll-over. And SUV’s are hard to manuver out of a potential accident.

If you watch the video the smaller car snaps around 180 degrees. All the energy of the larger car was transmitted to the passengers of the smaller car. I would like to see the stress forces of the test dummies.

I agree with Magiver; you’d need data from the dummies to help assess the results.

I also think the offset test favored the smaller car. The first thing the presenter points out is that the Renault used its whole front end in absorbing the crash energy, and the Volvo crumpled on one side only. Well, the Modus is thinner. Imagine a four-foot-wide car crashing into one that was eight feet wide. The thinner car would take the impact across its entire front; the wider car would only use half.

Nice test to point out the strengths of the newer car the weakness of the older car.
Starting with the 1993 850 Volvo ties the front end of the car so that an offset front collision has the energy transferred like what is shown for the “new” car in the clip. I would note that the 940 is an evolution of the 700 series car that dates back to 1983. I have personally witnessed a crash test of a 940 wagon against a barrier at 55 mph. (full frontal not offset) after the crash the doors of the Volvo still opened.

I am sure I could design a test where the newer small car came off worse.

In any event it goes to show that car makers are not sitting on their asses when it comes to crash safety.