The IIHS Finds that Large SUVs may not be as Safe as their Size Implies

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, bigger SUVs do not always provide better protection in crashes involving stationary objects. The agency tested three popular body-on-frame SUV models – the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, and Jeep Wagoneer – and found that while the Wagoneer performed well in some tests, the Tahoe and Expedition had significant shortcomings when it came to protecting second-row occupants.

Wagoneer Performs Well in Crash Tests
The Jeep Wagoneer received the highest rating of Good in the small overlap – front and side-impact tests, as well as a Good rating for its headlights and forward collision warning system. However, it only received a Marginal rating in the updated moderate overlap – front test, and the seat belt chime was rated as Marginal as well.

Tahoe Falls Short in Protecting Second-Row Occupants
The Chevrolet Tahoe received an Acceptable rating in the small overlap – front test, a Poor rating in the moderate overlap – front test, and a Good rating in the side-impact test. Its headlights were rated as Poor, and the forward collision warning system and seat belt chime also received subpar ratings. The IIHS noted that there was a substantial risk of lower leg injuries for the driver and a high risk of head or neck injuries for the second-row occupants.

Expedition’s Safety Concerns
The Ford Expedition scored a Marginal rating in the small overlap – front and moderate overlap – front tests, and a Good rating in the side-impact test. While its forward collision warning system received a Good rating, its headlights were rated as Marginal. The IIHS expressed concerns about the high risk of chest injuries for second-row occupants in all three SUV models.

Airbag Issues in Crash Tests
During the crash tests, the IIHS noted airbag-related problems in both the Wagoneer and Expedition. In the Wagoneer, the driver dummy’s head hit the steering wheel through the airbag, while the driver’s side curtain airbag did not deploy in the Expedition. These issues could significantly impact the safety of occupants in the event of a crash.

Top Safety Pick+ Rating Requirements
To earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS, a vehicle must meet specific criteria, including high ratings in crash tests and standard headlights. The IIHS has raised the bar for safety standards, emphasizing the importance of protecting all occupants – not just those in the front seats.

In conclusion, the IIHS’s tests reveal that while large SUVs may provide some protection in crashes with smaller vehicles, they may not be as effective in collisions with stationary objects. It is essential for automakers to prioritize the safety of all occupants, including those in the second row, to ensure that vehicles provide adequate protection in the event of a crash.

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