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IIHS Crash Tests Reveal That Some Large SUVs Are Not as Safe as Perceived

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The latest round of crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) focused on full-size SUVs, including the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, and Jeep Wagoneer. Despite the common belief that larger vehicles are safer, all three SUVs fell short of earning a Top Safety Pick+ rating. The primary concern identified by IIHS was cabin deformation in the small overlap front crash test. The Wagoneer received a good rating, indicating only minor intrusion in the footwell for the driver and front-seat passenger, with a modest risk of injury to the driver’s left foot and ankle. However, the Tahoe and Expedition faced more significant challenges in this test, with the Expedition only receiving a marginal rating due to extensive intrusion and detachment of components.

In addition to the small overlap front crash test, the SUVs struggled in the updated moderate-overlap crash test that now includes metrics for second-row passengers. None of the vehicles received a good rating, with the Wagoneer and Expedition rated as marginal, indicating a fairly high risk of chest injuries due to seat-belt forces. The Tahoe also fared poorly in this test, with a high risk of head and neck injuries. Furthermore, the Tahoe’s headlights received a poor rating due to excessive glare for other drivers and a lack of low-beam visibility on the right side of the vehicle, impacting its performance in pedestrian safety tests as well.

Despite the disappointing results, IIHS Vice President Raul Arbelaez highlighted the potential for improvement in vehicle safety standards. He noted that while some popular vehicles still lag behind, the top performer in the full-size SUV segment demonstrates that automakers can address these safety issues. The 2023-2024 Jeep Wagoneer emerged as the top performer in this round of crash testing, boasting good ratings in key areas such as small overlap front, side impact, and front crash prevention for pedestrians, reinforcing the notion that safety can be prioritized in vehicle design and construction.

The IIHS crash tests serve as a crucial benchmark for vehicle safety, providing valuable insights for both consumers and automakers. The results highlight the importance of ongoing advancements in safety technology and design to mitigate the risks associated with collisions. As SUVs continue to be popular choices for families and individuals alike, ensuring that these vehicles meet the highest safety standards is paramount to protecting occupants in the event of a crash. By addressing the identified safety issues and striving for continual improvement, automakers can enhance the overall safety of their vehicles and provide consumers with greater peace of mind on the road.

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