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  1. #1
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    Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Can someone please help with some advice? We need a new second car. First car is a minivan. Second car, which kids will be in less, will either be a Ford Fusion Energi or a Honda CR-V LX or Ford Escape (all 2014, leasing).

    Husband wants the Fusion but I am concerned that a sedan may not be as safe for the kids in the backseat as a larger vehicle would be. The crash test ratings are confusing to me because I read that they are based on crash tests involving a same-size vehicle. What do you all think? Thanks very much!

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  3. #2
    Senior Community Member Baylor's Avatar
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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    My father has a 13 fusion and it has a lot of safety features. My mother has a 14 Escape and it also has a lot of good safety features.
    For me it always goes with being higher. I can see better, I feel like if I am hit by a higher vehicle there will be less intrusion than if I am lower and hit by a higher vehicle.

    So for me, I would pick the Escape. I really like it. Car seats go in easy and there is plenty of storage.
    A five stepper and a booster rider

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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Yes, a new small SUV, on average, will have a lower driver death rate than a new mid-sized sedan.

    Between the three vehicles you listed, I'd go with the Honda CR-V.

  5. #4
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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    The Fusion was listed as an IIHS Top Safety Pick; it earned a score of Acceptable on the challenging small overlap test. The other two vehicles you mentioned did not do as well on that test-- the CR-V was rated Marginal, and the Escape was rated Poor.

    As you know, the weight of the vehicle is also an important component of safety. The Fusion Energi, with its battery pack, is the heaviest of the three, at about 3900 lbs, vs. 3400 for the CR-V and 3600 for the Escape.

    The one thing that the Fusion doesn't have going for it is ride height, and that is a safety consideration that sometimes does not get as much attention. But at least for me in comparing these 3 vehicles, I would put more emphasis on the crash test scores and the vehicle weight, and I would be most comfortable with the Fusion. I could probably be OK with the CR-V as well if you felt like you needed the cargo space and AWD of an SUV, though (just personally) for the same money I would probably get something like a Subaru Forester.

  6. #5
    Carseat Crazy DawgDad's Avatar
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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Quote Originally Posted by cantabdad View Post
    The Fusion was listed as an IIHS Top Safety Pick; it earned a score of Acceptable on the challenging small overlap test. The other two vehicles you mentioned did not do as well on that test-- the CR-V was rated Marginal, and the Escape was rated Poor.

    As you know, the weight of the vehicle is also an important component of safety. The Fusion Energi, with its battery pack, is the heaviest of the three, at about 3900 lbs, vs. 3400 for the CR-V and 3600 for the Escape.

    The one thing that the Fusion doesn't have going for it is ride height, and that is a safety consideration that sometimes does not get as much attention. But at least for me in comparing these 3 vehicles, I would put more emphasis on the crash test scores and the vehicle weight, and I would be most comfortable with the Fusion. I could probably be OK with the CR-V as well if you felt like you needed the cargo space and AWD of an SUV, though (just personally) for the same money I would probably get something like a Subaru Forester.
    Great response! I personally have the 2014 Ford Fusion SE (company car) and love it. It's quite a puzzle on the car seats if you have 3, but I think I have figured it out finally. When I am not traveling, I take the kids to school, practices, and the park...so need to have room for all 3 of them in the back.

    The CR-V is larger than the Escape, so if there is a need for more storage and space, then I would opt for that one over the Escape. However, if it's purely driven by the husband as his car...I would prefer the Escape from pure drive, features, and comfort.

    In the end, if it's safety, then the Fusion wins...but it's a low vehicle and if you have a bunch of people who opt for massive SUVs and trucks in your area, then you might want a larger vehicle for bumper cars just in case.

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  8. #6
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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Quote Originally Posted by cantabdad View Post
    The Fusion was listed as an IIHS Top Safety Pick; it earned a score of Acceptable on the challenging small overlap test. The other two vehicles you mentioned did not do as well on that test-- the CR-V was rated Marginal, and the Escape was rated Poor.

    As you know, the weight of the vehicle is also an important component of safety. The Fusion Energi, with its battery pack, is the heaviest of the three, at about 3900 lbs, vs. 3400 for the CR-V and 3600 for the Escape.

    The one thing that the Fusion doesn't have going for it is ride height, and that is a safety consideration that sometimes does not get as much attention. But at least for me in comparing these 3 vehicles, I would put more emphasis on the crash test scores and the vehicle weight, and I would be most comfortable with the Fusion. I could probably be OK with the CR-V as well if you felt like you needed the cargo space and AWD of an SUV, though (just personally) for the same money I would probably get something like a Subaru Forester.
    See, this is where it gets tricky. On paper, the Fusion is the safest of the three vehicles, especially when you throw in the hybrid version. By on paper, I mean because it's the only vehicle with a decent small overlap score, and in the hybrid version, it's also by far the heaviest vehicle.

    However, looking at the newest overall (not individual) driver death rates, you're more likely to die while driving a midsize or even large car (and with the battery pack, it would fall under the 'large' category) than you are in a small SUV, based on the data of 2009-2011 vehicles. Individual vehicle data isn't available, but the group numbers were 33, 44, and 22, respectively, for midsized cars, large cars, and small SUVs.

    Now it's definitely possible that the 2014 Fusion hybrid could be a car that would individually score a 10 if computed, while the 2014 CR-V and Escape would score 40 or something, but statistically speaking, unless there's been a major change in the last three years in terms of how vehicles are stacking up, the small SUVs should have the edge.

    I guess it depends on whether you trust the newest crash tests more or the slightly older death rates. Alternatively, you can also look at it as a question of weighing crash tests more or ride height and death rates.

  9. #7
    Carseat Crazy DawgDad's Avatar
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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Quote Originally Posted by CarSafetyGuy View Post
    See, this is where it gets tricky. On paper, the Fusion is the safest of the three vehicles, especially when you throw in the hybrid version. By on paper, I mean because it's the only vehicle with a decent small overlap score, and in the hybrid version, it's also by far the heaviest vehicle.

    However, looking at the newest overall (not individual) driver death rates, you're more likely to die while driving a midsize or even large car (and with the battery pack, it would fall under the 'large' category) than you are in a small SUV, based on the data of 2009-2011 vehicles. Individual vehicle data isn't available, but the group numbers were 33, 44, and 22, respectively, for midsized cars, large cars, and small SUVs.

    Now it's definitely possible that the 2014 Fusion hybrid could be a car that would individually score a 10 if computed, while the 2014 CR-V and Escape would score 40 or something, but statistically speaking, unless there's been a major change in the last three years in terms of how vehicles are stacking up, the small SUVs should have the edge.

    I guess it depends on whether you trust the newest crash tests more or the slightly older death rates. Alternatively, you can also look at it as a question of weighing crash tests more or ride height and death rates.
    And even trickier when those ratings, if I am not mistaken, don't take into account the difference in numbers of the different car categories. Midsize and large/full size sedan categories outnumber small SUVs quite significantly. Simple statistics would glean they would have more deaths just because there are far more of that category on the road.

    Individual numbers of each car also carry that weight, but offer a more specific number on performance. In the end, safety features and the crash tests point that in 80% of all crashes, this car is going to either stand up or possibly perform poorly. That's how I look at it. Nothing is going to save you from a semi going 60mph into the back of you, unless you were possibly in a M1A1 Abrams.

  10. #8
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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    Can someone please help with some advice? We need a new second car. First car is a minivan. Second car, which kids will be in less, will either be a Ford Fusion Energi or a Honda CR-V LX or Ford Escape (all 2014, leasing).

    Husband wants the Fusion but I am concerned that a sedan may not be as safe for the kids in the backseat as a larger vehicle would be. The crash test ratings are confusing to me because I read that they are based on crash tests involving a same-size vehicle. What do you all think? Thanks very much!
    I reviewed a Fusion Hybrid last year. I think it is a great family vehicle.

    http://carseatblog.com/25140/2014-fo...rseats-safety/

    I would have no qualms selecting the Fusion on the basis of safety over many small and midsize SUVs.

    If you don't need a third row of seating, another great choice is the Subaru Forester in the compact SUV class, especially when equipped with the Eyesight collision mitigation system. It's one of the best frontal crash mitigation systems out there, on par with some on luxury class vehicles costing twice as much. For fuel economy and safety, I really like the 2014 Highlander Hybrid all around as well, but it's $50,000 :-(

    Quote Originally Posted by CarSafetyGuy View Post
    Yes, a new small SUV, on average, will have a lower driver death rate than a new mid-sized sedan.
    There are no driver death rates for individual new vehicles within the last 5 years or so. Prior to that, small 2WD SUVs racked up a class rate of 41, only marginally lower than midsize sedans that came in around 51 as a class that is right around average for all vehicles. I don't place much emphasis on these results, since they only loosely correlate with driver safety (and minimal information on passenger safety, accident avoidance or crashworthiness). Nonetheless, the Fusion was actually a top performer in the most recent IIHS driver death rate survey that covered 2008 models year vehicles, with a very low rate of 23, about the same as the 2WD CR-V. Unfortunately, like many models, I think both have been substantially redesigned since so the most recent IIHS fatality data is not very helpful in any case.

    As a trend, though, even the older IIHS data has some information. Mini and small sedans/wagons, 2-door vehicles and most sports cars have higher than average death rates, though some of this is due to driver demographics. Most other classes of vehicles are about average more or less, especially given the wide ranges and margins of error for individual vehicles. The lowest death rates are found in 4WD SUVs, luxury cars and minivans.

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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Quote Originally Posted by CPSDarren View Post
    There are no driver death rates for individual new vehicles within the last 5 years or so. Prior to that, small 2WD SUVs racked up a class rate of 41, only marginally lower than midsize sedans that came in around 51 as a class that is right around average for all vehicles.
    I agree with you that there's no new individual data, but there's data for the overall classes of 2012 vehicles 1-3 year old here: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/ve...er-death-rates. That's where my numbers of 33, 44, and 22 come from.


    Quote Originally Posted by DawgDad
    And even trickier when those ratings, if I am not mistaken, don't take into account the difference in numbers of the different car categories. Midsize and large/full size sedan categories outnumber small SUVs quite significantly. Simple statistics would glean they would have more deaths just because there are far more of that category on the road.
    They actually do take numbers (exposure) into account; that's why they have error ranges for individual and group rates in the status reports. For example, while the '06 Sedona and '05 Odyssey had nearly identical driver death rates (16 and 17), the confidence bound for the Sedona (9-22) was much larger than that for the Odyssey (14-20) since far more Odysseys were sold. Or in a group example, the "small" car category in '05-'08 had an overall rate of 72 (70-74), while an individual vehicle like the Civic had a rate of 55 (49-61) because it was a much smaller sample.

  12. #10
    Senior Community Member Baylor's Avatar
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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Quote Originally Posted by CPSDarren View Post
    I reviewed a Fusion Hybrid last year. I think it is a great family vehicle.

    http://carseatblog.com/25140/2014-fo...rseats-safety/

    I would have no qualms selecting the Fusion on the basis of safety over many small and midsize SUVs.

    If you don't need a third row of seating, another great choice is the Subaru Forester in the compact SUV class, especially when equipped with the Eyesight collision mitigation system. It's one of the best frontal crash mitigation systems out there, on par with some on luxury class vehicles costing twice as much. For fuel economy and safety, I really like the 2014 Highlander Hybrid all around as well, but it's $50,000 :-(



    There are no driver death rates for individual new vehicles within the last 5 years or so. Prior to that, small 2WD SUVs racked up a class rate of 41, only marginally lower than midsize sedans that came in around 51 as a class that is right around average for all vehicles. I don't place much emphasis on these results, since they only loosely correlate with driver safety (and minimal information on passenger safety, accident avoidance or crashworthiness). Nonetheless, the Fusion was actually a top performer in the most recent IIHS driver death rate survey that covered 2008 models year vehicles, with a very low rate of 23, about the same as the 2WD CR-V. Unfortunately, like many models, I think both have been substantially redesigned since so the most recent IIHS fatality data is not very helpful in any case.

    As a trend, though, even the older IIHS data has some information. Mini and small sedans/wagons, 2-door vehicles and most sports cars have higher than average death rates, though some of this is due to driver demographics. Most other classes of vehicles are about average more or less, especially given the wide ranges and margins of error for individual vehicles. The lowest death rates are found in 4WD SUVs, luxury cars and minivans.
    I really like my dad's fusion hybrid.. Well once I got used to the quiet at stoplights. The only issue with the hybrid for me would be the trunk space. You lose a lot with the batteries, however my uncle had the same car without hybrid and it had a good sized trunk. Car seats were easy installs too. I had the FR85 in there with a Monterey booster, so big seats and there was still nice room back there.
    A five stepper and a booster rider

  13. #11
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Quote Originally Posted by CarSafetyGuy View Post
    I agree with you that there's no new individual data, but there's data for the overall classes of 2012 vehicles 1-3 year old here: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/ve...er-death-rates. That's where my numbers of 33, 44, and 22 come from.
    Where midsize sedans as a group are a hair better than average, and a standout like the Fusion very likely to be an exceptional vehicle overall, in my opinion. The Fusion also has very good overall crash test results and available safety features, including warning systems for frontal crashes, blind spot, cross traffic and lane departure as well as a crash notification system. I'm not sure the CR-V has any of those features available on any trim yet, even though as a class the small SUVs do have a relatively low death rate for drivers, especially in 4WD models.

    Anyway, I'd have no issues putting my family in a Fusion, even though midsize sedans as a class may have only an average driver fatality rate based on older models. Perhaps an oversight, but the IIHS driver fatality rates just don't concern me very much except perhaps when you get to the sub compact class of vehicles. Or maybe compact sedans/coupes/wagons that also have worse than average crash test results.

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    Thumbs up Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    ^ Oh, I definitely agree that it's a very safe vehicle, and I'd be happy to have my family in one.

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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    New user here, bumping an old thread.

    My wife and I currently have two Honda CR-Vs. The lease on one of them is up in June, and I am thinking of going with an Accord.

    However, my biggest hesitation in going back to a sedan right now is IIHS death rate data. While the CR-V will continue to be the primary car for the kids and the Accord will be my commuting car, the kids will occasionally go in the Accord (or, at least if my wife and I split up and each take one kid). And while I know the chances of getting into a serious accident are slim, especially with the kids only very occasionally going in the Accord, the idea of driving around with my kids in a potentially slightly unsafer vehicle is giving me pause.

    So, my question is this. Correlation is not equal to causation. Are there other factors at work here that could make this data an inaccurate representation of safety in an accident? For example, I'm thinking that midsize and large sedans are frequently used by taxi drivers, etc, so a lot of them are on the road for 12 hours a day, which makes them much more likely to get into an accident than an SUV that's on the road for only an hour. Am I onto something here?

  16. #14
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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Yes, the IIHS death/injury data only has a small component of crashworthiness in it. Most of the data has to do with driver demographics and other factors. This is easily seen by the differences in corporate "twins" over the years, some of which had major differences even though the vehicles were essentially identical except for having a Chevy vs. Buick nameplate. Many corporate twins have disappeared in recent years, but there are still a few good examples like Suburban (very good) vs. Yukon XL (poor). Even comparisons among 2WD and 4WD versions of the same vehicle are often major differences in death rates, sometimes the 2WD version is shown to be much "safer" (Mazda CX-9 or Hyundai Tucson) and sometimes it's the 4WD version (Ford Explorer or Nissan Murano), but the crash worthiness and crash avoidance are still essentially the same as even 4WD vehicles don't stop any faster. Plus, the most recent IIHS death rate data often doesn't cover vehicles that had redesigns within the last few years.

    In terms of actual occupant protection, focus on the actual impact crash testing from the IIHS and NHTSA and also the availability of advanced safety features such as frontal crash mitigation with autobrake. Given the same or similar crash test ratings, vehicle weight and safety features, I suspect there is minimal difference between vehicles like Accord and CR-V. If you can get a deal on one with the Honda Sensing with Collision Mitigation Braking, I'd go for that. It might be standard on both for 2019, but I think maybe only standard on Accord for 2018 and optional on CR-V?

    In past years, the midsize Accord interior was slightly bigger than the compact CR-V, but CR-V has grown so this may no longer be the case. Worth checking, especially for width in the 2nd row that may make the difference in fitting 3 kids/carseats easier.

  17. #15
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    Re: Is a new small SUV safer than a new sedan?

    Quote Originally Posted by SafeDad View Post
    Yes, the IIHS death/injury data only has a small component of crashworthiness in it. Most of the data has to do with driver demographics and other factors. This is easily seen by the differences in corporate "twins" over the years, some of which had major differences even though the vehicles were essentially identical except for having a Chevy vs. Buick nameplate. Many corporate twins have disappeared in recent years, but there are still a few good examples like Suburban (very good) vs. Yukon XL (poor). Even comparisons among 2WD and 4WD versions of the same vehicle are often major differences in death rates, sometimes the 2WD version is shown to be much "safer" (Mazda CX-9 or Hyundai Tucson) and sometimes it's the 4WD version (Ford Explorer or Nissan Murano), but the crash worthiness and crash avoidance are still essentially the same as even 4WD vehicles don't stop any faster. Plus, the most recent IIHS death rate data often doesn't cover vehicles that had redesigns within the last few years.

    In terms of actual occupant protection, focus on the actual impact crash testing from the IIHS and NHTSA and also the availability of advanced safety features such as frontal crash mitigation with autobrake. Given the same or similar crash test ratings, vehicle weight and safety features, I suspect there is minimal difference between vehicles like Accord and CR-V. If you can get a deal on one with the Honda Sensing with Collision Mitigation Braking, I'd go for that. It might be standard on both for 2019, but I think maybe only standard on Accord for 2018 and optional on CR-V?

    In past years, the midsize Accord interior was slightly bigger than the compact CR-V, but CR-V has grown so this may no longer be the case. Worth checking, especially for width in the 2nd row that may make the difference in fitting 3 kids/carseats easier.
    Thanks very much for your detailed response. The CR-V weighs about 275 pounds more than the Accord, depending on the trim. How much difference would that type of weight difference make in a crash with, say, a Ford Explorer?

    Or, in other words, with all of the SUVs on the road, is the difference in weight enough to make my kids more vulnerable by having them ride in an Accord compared to a CR-V?

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