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Old 02-11-2011, 09:36 AM   #1
BigElm
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Default The Safest Small Cars, 2011

If you're looking to downsize your ride, good news: Just because a car is small, doesn't mean it's unsafe

With gas prices steadily climbing, it's good to know carmakers are introducing a slew of small, fuel-efficient models that are loaded with the same premium features and technology found in much larger gas hogs. Sharp-looking, affordable cars like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Fiat 500 aren't like the econoboxes you remember. And they're fun as hell to drive.

But how safe are they? If you've ever been driving down the highway in a small car, sandwiched between a couple of SUVs or tractor-trailers, you know how vulnerable you can feel. Safety is probably the biggest deterrent to buying a small car.

The surprising news is that just because a car is small, doesn't mean it's unsafe. Most of the cars on Forbes' list of the Safest Small Cars use high-strength steel in key structural areas to form a safety cage around the passengers and protect them in the event of a crash. They're also equipped with smart airbags throughout the vehicle that can adjust their inflation depending on the size and position of the passengers.

The Fiat 500, for instance, on sale soon, will be among the smallest cars on American roads at just 11-and-a-half feet long and 2,350 pounds. But it has seven standard air bags to protect your body (even your knees) in a crash. If you get hit from behind, reactive head restraints will help minimize whiplash injuries by reducing the gap between the head restraint and a passenger's head.

Advanced air bags in the redesigned 2012 Ford Focus use a tether system that automatically pulls in the lower section of the bag to create a "pocket" when it inflates. That helps lessen the impact of the air bag on the driver's chest and ribs in frontal crashes. The front passenger airbag, meanwhile, has adaptive venting, depending on the size of the occupant, to help enhance head and neck protection.

To compile our 2011 list of the safest new small cars on the market, we used crash test data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS is an independent nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurance companies. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests and a rollover test; it also evaluates seat and head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

Our list includes the 2011 model-year cars listed in the micro, mini and small-car segments that received "good" ratings in all four categories, and offer life-saving electronic stability control, thus earning IIHS' Top Safety Pick designation. It does not include vehicles that have not been fully tested for front, side, rear and rollover crashes, or 2012 models like the 500 and Focus that are not yet on sale.

IIHS' 40 mph frontal offset crash test assesses how strong the car's structure is; side crash tests are designed to see how well the occupants are protected when the car is t-boned by an SUV or pickup truck. Rollover ratings measure roof strength in a rollover crash. Rear crash tests assess how well seat belts and head restraints work to prevent whiplash injury.

Eleven of the 25 compact cars tested by IIHS earned a Top Safety Pick rating by scoring "good" in all four categories. All but one of the 11 (the Honda Civic) feature electronic stability control as standard equipment. The 2012 Civic, due later this year, will include stability control on all models. This safety feature has been proven to save lives by significantly reducing the risk of a crash, by helping drivers maintain control of their vehicles during emergency maneuvers.

Interestingly, Kia has two small cars that earned the Top Safety Pick rating—the Kia Forte compact sedan and the boxy Kia Soul—but its Korean cousin, Hyundai, has none. Kia's standard safety equipment includes front active headrests, dual advanced front airbags, front seat-mounted and side curtain airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, side impact door beams, front and rear crumple zones, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system (which can help avoid a dangerous tire blowout).


5 of the 12 Safest Small Cars, 2011


Scion xB

If this boxy car rolls over, you shouldn't have to worry about the roof caving in. In the IIHS testing, the xB's roof withstood a force equal to 6.8 times its vehicle weight, well above the federal standard of 1.5 times. It also has advanced air bags, stability control and traction control, antilock brakes and brake assist, pretensioning seat bealts and a tire pressure monitoring system. It even comes with a first aid kit.

Honda Civic

Stability control will be standard on all models when the 2012 Civic debuts later this year. For now it's just on the EX-L, Si and Hybrid versions. But it has a lot of other safety features, including a special body structure to withstand crashes with larger vehicles, front and side advanced air bags, active head restraints for front passengers, pre-tensioning seatbelts and antilock brakes.

Mitsubishi Lancer

This four-door sports sedan is Mitsubishi's best-seller, and includes advanced dual-stage front air bags with occupant seat position sensor; side-impact head protection curtain air bags (front and rear); front seat-mounted side air bags; driver's side knee air bag; anti-lock brakes; stability control; traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Subaru Impreza Outback

Subaru's entire lineup of four-wheel-drive cars earned Top Safety Pick distinction. Like the others, the Outback has a ring-shaped reinforcement frame made of high-strength steel that helps shield occupants from the worst of the blow in an accident. Its antilock braking system is programmed to redistribute braking power to where it's needed, and will even brake for you if it senses you're not responding quickly enough. It also comes with six air bags.

Toyota Corolla

Corolla, the best-selling compact in America, was redesigned for 2011 and went on sale in December. The Corolla is engineered to absorb and disperse impact energy throughout the entire body structure, including front and rear crumple zones. All Corollas are equipped with six standard air bags, seatbelt pretensioners and active headrests. The Corolla also features an energy-absorbing steering column.

Click here to see the full list of The Safest Small Cars

http://autos.yahoo.com/articles/auto...all-cars-2011/
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:17 AM   #2
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Hmm, that Outback looks similar to a different car I know of...
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:28 AM   #3
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I figured the Small Cars were all pretty Safe. However, this growing trend of sub-compacts is what worries me on safety. As in Fiat vs. Excursion or even 4Runner vs. Smart. In most ubran areas it would be ok, but viewing these subcompacts on the congested streets of Houston with a F350 rumbling right behind them is a bit worrying
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:35 AM   #4
boxerinside
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Default

maybe for FATAmericans, but non of those cars are small.

small cars are:
-Accent, Hond fit, Smart (extra small)
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:01 AM   #5
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What they don't mention is that you cannot compare safety ratings across size classes ie a "top safety pick" small car is not as as safe as a "top safety pick" large car. They really bury this on their website though. You have to go here:
http://www.iihs.org/brochures/default.html
Download the first brochure, and read page 3
Quote:
The first crashworthiness attributes to consider are
vehicle size and weight. Small, light vehicles generally
offer less protection than larger, heavier ones. There’s
less structure to absorb crash energy, so deaths and
injuries are more likely to occur in both single- and multiplevehicle
crashes. If safety is one of your major considerations
PASS UP VERY SMALL, LIGHT VEHICLES.
Quote:
I figured the Small Cars were all pretty Safe. However, this growing trend of sub-compacts is what worries me on safety. As in Fiat vs. Excursion or even 4Runner vs. Smart. In most ubran areas it would be ok, but viewing these subcompacts on the congested streets of Houston with a F350 rumbling right behind them is a bit worrying
indeed




Last edited by Mike Wevrick; 02-11-2011 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ammo0000 View Post
Hmm, that Outback looks similar to a different car I know of...
Like one of "all the other" Subarus listed in the article?

--kC
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:44 AM   #7
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The Fiesta surprised me... good job Ford!

BTW I drove one last weekend as a rental and loved it. The automatic trans sucks tho.

-Mike.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:45 AM   #8
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My thread from last month is very relevant to this topic:

OT thread: "I drive a SUV because I feel safer in it"
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Old 02-11-2011, 02:46 PM   #9
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Just bought the GF a base model KIA Soul, pretty cool car that had alot of standard features. I was surprised at how cheap the insurance is.
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:33 PM   #10
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/\/\/\ that's because if you're in an accident while driving one there will be no medical and long term rehabilitation costs...
... only funeral home bill
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ammo0000 View Post
Hmm, that Outback looks similar to a different car I know of...
yea the 3 letter car
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Old 02-12-2011, 12:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpaone View Post
The Fiesta surprised me... good job Ford!

BTW I drove one last weekend as a rental and loved it. The gimped dual-clutch trans sucks tho.

-Mike.
Fixed.
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