5 things to look for when assessing an SUV’s safety
If you’ve got your eye on a new SUV that’s not on this list, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a safe vehicle. You can analyze any vehicle’s safety with the following five factors, though there may be others to consider as well.
1. Government crash-test ratings
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is one of two entities that assess and report on vehicle safety. NHTSA conducts tests and analyzes the damage from full-frontal crashes, side collisions and rollovers. Each collision type is scored on a five-star scale.
In all NHTSA crash tests, a dummy or two are secured with seat belts, and their injuries are evaluated along with the vehicle damage upon impact. This makes for a good attestation of how well the seat belts and air bags protect passengers.
2. Insurance-industry crash-test ratings
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also runs front, side and rear collision tests at a much more detailed level. In addition, it also measures roof strength. IIHS also evaluates collision warnings between both cars and pedestrians, headlights and seat belts and child restraints. The IIHS scale for frontal crashes ranges from Good to Acceptable, Marginal or Poor, and crash prevention from Superior, Advanced and Basic.
3. Rollover resistance
Taller SUVs are inherently more top-heavy, which makes it easier for these vehicles to roll over. Smaller SUVs with a lower center of gravity are less likely to roll over. NHTSA also has a five-star rating system for Rollover Resistance Rating (RRR). The rating combines static stability factors (SSF) with the NHTSA rollover test for an accurate measurement.
4. Child safety
All new vehicles have the LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). It’s a system that combines tether anchors located behind the top of the seat and lower seat belt anchors. This system is safer than just relying on the seat belt to hold car seats in place. However, the system doesn’t work the same in all cars. The IIHS rates vehicles on this to determine if the LATCH systems are difficult to use.
5. Vehicle recalls
It’s a good idea to research recalls for the SUV you’re looking at. While many recalls do not affect a car’s daily use or safety, some can and should be fixed immediately. For example, a malfunctioning chip that controls auto brakes in a vehicle could be a significant safety issue. It’s not to say the vehicle wouldn’t be driveable, but that’s a feature that does help prevent accidents.