Car vs. SUV safety

I understand the basic laws of physics in terms of momentum, etc. and obviously a Fordasaurus SUV will win in that respect when hitting a Honda Civic, but are modern safety advances (airbags, crumple zones, safety cages, etc.) enough to “beat” physics?

In other words, without making this into an IMHO, is there any scientific validation to people who drives SUV’s specifically to drive the biggest, heaviest thing on the road for safety reasons “because they don’t want to get squashed in a car”?

From this page:

It goes on to talk about the design (height) of SUVs factor into the equation, not only the weight. But the real world data shows that in car vs SUV collisions, the SUV usually comes out ahead.

In order to complete my virtual epitaph, I hope someone will someday remember that I read this thread and that link. Let it be known that should me and my little she-car meet an untimely demise at the hands of an SUV, it was not without knowing the risks. Certain greedy family members seeking to profit from my doom can kiss whatever remains of my ass.

Some things are worth risking, dammit. That is part of the beauty of life.

Consumer Reports would disagree, or at least offer a different viewpoint.
In their safety testing, most Large SUVs actually do worse than the average Sedan or Small Car in avoiding a crash, or offering protection from a crash once it occurs.
The new crop of small SUVs is equivalent to most cars.

It’s available at but you’ll have to be a subscriber to check out the info.

Many of the safety tests involve the vehicle crashing into a solid object. In those tests, SUVs won’t do much better (could be worse) because they have a lot more overall mass, and that mass requires a great deal of force to stop. SUVs structures are stronger in an absolute sense, but need that extra strength to compensate for the mass problem.

However, in a crash with another vehicle, that extra mass is not a hinderance, and the additional strength is a benefit.

In a crash with a brick wall, your Fordasaurus may not beat out the Civic, but in a crash with each other, the Fordasaurus will win out every time.

Now I know this isn’t the an SUV in the respect of a Suburban or an Expedition. But recently in Kenosha, WI, I pick up and a little old lady driving a small car both going probably around 55mph went head on. The little car acted like a ramp and flipped the pick up over. It wasn’t a pretty accident scene.

I’ll just remember that as I’ll heading out in NoVa with my explorer, buddy.

Excellent question and some great analysis of the data guys.

Just to add a little fun to the thread…

The Ultimate Poseur Sport Utility Page

I have heard,though I don’t have a cite, that for evey 100 lbs. your vehicle is heaver than the other vehicle in a crash, you are 20% less likely to be injured.

On another SUV thread I posted this link from an excellent Frontline episode.
This should answer your questions about SUV safety and raise many others.

my uncle drives a SUV, he was driving down a two line road and some idiot started to drift into his lane before he could do anything, bam my uncles car ramped up on top of the little car nearly crushing the man to death. They both got out alive but my uncle need some surgery and so did the other guy. They were both going about 55 head on!

So, the SUV essentially saved my uncle, but nearly killed the other person. Although, the officer at the scence said, at that speed with a head on collision, if it were two cars against one another, that most likely both people would be dead… go figure.

Never trust an officer at the scene. I talk to lots of them on a daily basis, and they know absolutely nothing except for the anecdotal evidence. They’re also trying to keep nervous people calm, so they’ll say lots of stuff designed to reassure the people involved.

Now, if you’re talking to an officer who does traffic analysis, that’s a different story.