Safety Ratings Low for Oversized, Thirsty SUVs


According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), driving big, gas-guzzling SUVs may not necessarily be safer than driving smaller vehicles. In a recent release of safety ratings, the IIHS highlighted the crashworthiness, headlights, and collision-avoidance technology of three full-size SUVs: the Jeep Wagoneer, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Ford Expedition. This article will delve into the safety ratings of these vehicles, highlighting the factors that contribute to their safety or lack thereof.

1. Crashworthiness Ratings
2. Headlight Ratings
3. Fuel Efficiency and Environmental Impact
4. Future Developments in Electric Vehicle Safety
5. Weight Considerations in Vehicle Safety

The IIHS conducted various crash tests on the Jeep Wagoneer, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Ford Expedition to assess their crashworthiness. While the Wagoneer received a top rating of “Good” in the small overlap front crash test, the Tahoe and Expedition received lower ratings of “Acceptable” and “Marginal,” respectively. In the updated moderate overlap front test, both the Wagoneer and Expedition were rated “Marginal,” while the Tahoe received the lowest possible rating of “Poor.” These ratings indicate how well these SUVs protect occupants in the event of a crash.

Another crucial aspect of vehicle safety is the effectiveness of headlights. The IIHS rated the Wagoneer’s headlights as “Acceptable” or “Good,” depending on the trim level, while the Tahoe and Expedition received lower ratings of “Poor” and “Marginal,” respectively. Additionally, the Tahoe was given a “Marginal” rating for its front-crash prevention tech, with the IIHS noting that the pedestrian-collision avoidance system “faltered in the dark.” These ratings highlight the importance of visibility and technology in preventing accidents.

In terms of fuel efficiency, the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition are gas guzzlers, getting only 16-19 mpg combined. On the other hand, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer offer slightly better fuel economy at 16-20 mpg combined, depending on the model. None of these SUVs are available as hybrids or plug-in hybrids, let alone electric vehicles (EVs). However, General Motors is reportedly working on a new generation of plug-in hybrid pickups that could pave the way for a future Tahoe plug-in hybrid, reflecting a shift towards more environmentally friendly options.

The rise of electric vehicles has brought new safety considerations, with the IIHS recognizing several EVs for their top safety ratings. The 2024 Volkswagen ID.4, along with other models like the Genesis Electrified G80, Hyundai Ioniq 6, and Tesla Model Y, received the highest Top Safety Pick+ award. The IIHS also named several other EVs as 2024 Top Safety Picks. Despite their safety features, some EVs face challenges related to their weight, which can impact their safety performance in certain scenarios.

Overall, the weight of a vehicle plays a significant role in its safety. Heavier vehicles may offer more protection in collisions but can pose a greater risk to other road users and infrastructure. The IIHS has raised concerns about EV weight and its impact on safety, particularly in relation to guardrails. Manufacturers must strike a balance between vehicle weight, safety features, and environmental impact to ensure the safety of occupants and other road users.

In conclusion, the safety ratings of big SUVs like the Jeep Wagoneer, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Ford Expedition highlight the importance of crashworthiness, headlights, and collision-avoidance technology in ensuring vehicle safety. As the automotive industry shifts towards electric vehicles, new safety considerations and developments are emerging, paving the way for a more diverse range of top-rated EVs. Vehicle weight remains a critical factor in safety, underscoring the need for manufacturers to prioritize safety, efficiency, and environmental impact in their design and production processes.

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