Is your Big SUV Really Safe?

If you are driving a big behemoth SUV thinking you are safer, maybe you should think about another vehicle. Here are some results.

Logan Carter at Jalopnik gives us the break down. It is picked up in Quartz Business News.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just released new crash test results for three full-size, three-row SUVs. The Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Jeep Wagoneer were reviewed. These family haulers had varied crash test performances. Full-size SUVs are popular choices due to size and the perceived safety coming with size. Size alone does not necessarily equate to safety. According to the IIHS, the Expedition performed worse than 90 percent of all new vehicles in the small overlap crash tests. A video reflects the results of the tests.

The 2023-2024 Ford Expedition was the worst of the three SUVs tested by the IIHS in this round of crash tests, with a poor showing in the small overlap crash tests. In the video you can see the A-pillar peel away from the rest of the vehicle leaving the occupant exposed. This happened on both the driver’s side and the passenger side, earning the Expedition the IIHS’ second-lowest rating of Marginal for both driver and passenger side small overlap crashworthiness. The Expedition fared better in the other tests, though, with a great showing in pedestrian avoidance.

The 2023-2024 Chevrolet Tahoe performed slightly better than the Expedition in some tests, earning the IIHS’ second-highest rating of Acceptable in the small overlap test. This despite the video looking a lot less intense than the Expedition’s. The Tahoe earned the worst rating of Poor for its headlights an important aspect of nighttime road safety. Its pedestrian collision avoidance technology failed nighttime tests spectacularly. It sent the child-sized dummy flying and earning the Tahoe a Marginal rating in the test. It also earned a Poor rating for the updated moderate overlap test. This measures the safety of rear-seat occupants, with the dummy showing a high risk of head or neck injuries and chest injuries.

The 2023-2024 Jeep Wagoneer performed the best of these three big SUVs. It earned a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS. It also performed best in the small overlap crash test, earning the best rating of Good and also had the best performing headlights. However, the Wagoneer didn’t keep rear seat occupants safe enough to earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating.

The assumption a vehicle is safe simply due to its size. Checking out its IIHS crash test ratings is important to make sure your safety priorities are met. Heavier vehicles do fare better in crashes with lighter vehicles. However, there are an infinite number of crash scenarios possible in the real world. The full picture of vehicle safety is important to consider.

When approached for comment on their vehicles’ performance in this latest IIHS crash test, a Ford spokesperson said, “The 2023 and 2024 Expedition . . . is the only vehicle in the segment to achieve a five-star overall vehicle score in NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). Designing SUVs in Expedition’s weight category to perform better in the small overlap rigid barrier test could increase injury to occupants in lighter-weight vehicles involved in a crash.”

A General Motors spokesperson said, “we are confident in the safety of the Chevrolet Tahoe. It achieved a 4-star safety overall rating from NHTSA’s comprehensive New Car Assessment Program. We value consumer metric ratings from IIHS and will look to incorporate these latest findings into our new vehicle designs.”

Jeep issued a press release to celebrate the Wagoneer’s Top Safety Pick achievement, citing its pride in the work of its engineers. The Wagoneers performance in these crash tests proves that it’s not impossible to build a safe large SUV. There’s always room for improvement, even for the Jeep.

AB: From my experience this is typical automotive talk. Then to, if they admitted there was a serious issue, they might end up on the hook to implement changes during a model year rather than the following year.