ABC News on Sub-Compact Safety

As you might have already seen on Good Morning America.

Some vehicles did quite well. The Nissan Versa was the best of the bunch and got good ratings in all three crash tests.

The Toyota Yaris was a close second with optional side air bags, and the Honda Fit was the next best.

They were followed by the Mini Cooper and the Chevy Aveo-Scion xB.

One thing the Insurance Institute is now saying is that, if you can afford it, you should buy a larger car. In fact, it’s a point that was made several times during the televised piece.

[ Small Cars Safety Tested ] ABCNEWS.com – Video [ Bigger May Be Better ] ABCnews.com
  • Something tells me there was probably a conference call between Woodcliff and Sausalito about this.

  • Christina

    I watched the segment this morning and I lost my appetite. Burn more fuel, drive bigger cars! It’s the american way.

  • Dave Mac Mini

    Oh, what a surprise! The laws of physics actually prevail. With that in mind, we should, if safety is our main concern, all drive an armor plated Hummer H1. But wait!! Could it be that a car that can avoid an accident might be as safe (or safer) than a tank?

    The Insurance Institute is full of it.

  • bluzeke

    Today’s report should suffice to drive the design of a whole new category of behemoth passenger vehicles capable of SQUASHING the now deemed “too small” Hummer H1. When will we ever realize the absurd foolishness of this kind of thinking which only leads people to believe that their only option is to purchase an ever larger vehicle? One step forward – two steps back.

    Gee, I can hardly wait for the next series of authoritative safety “lectures” I’m going to get at the gas pump in the coming weeks!

  • gmini

    well i’d just like to see how that versa compares the bigger and better 07 MINI! why…….

  • bavarian racing green

    …bah, and i know i’m preaching to the choir…

    …i drive an ’06 dark silver MCS, a ’03 BRG MC, and a ’91 crx (unfortunately not the Si) three cars that would be ranked in the top ten smallest cars sold in the US in the last 20 years…

    …i would have to say that although one cannot control what others do on the road, in my humble experience and driving skill i believe that the lack of mass and increased agility of these cars has helped me time and time again to avoid accidents altogether…

    …which is the best safety feature of all…

  • FrankInMiami

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is the “defacto” mouthpiece of the insurance industry, so any “statements” coming out of this agency funded by these companies should be taken with a big and I mean a BIG grain of salt.

    The IIHS doesn’t care about your safety or my safety. All they care about to push their own political agenda whatever that agenda happens to be.

    Pretty suspicious, I might add, that the IIHS has now basically engaged on a “witch hunt” against the very small cars they calimed not very long ago to offer reasonable margins of protection and safety.

    Lest we not forget that the MINI Cooper was IIHS’ “Best Pick” in the small car class.

    This smells of Detroit’s little dirty hands making a case and brainwashing the herds of mindless Americans into thinking that afterall, the SUV is not a bad proposition even if that implies accepting its controversial compromises in terms of safety, pollution and even never ending our dependency on Arab oil.

    IIHS SUCKS!

  • Jon

    The sad fact is this report panders to the worst habits of Americans. Honestly I can say I drive a Mini with the knowledge in the lands of the monster vehicles I am somewhat at risk.

    This report basically is telling you to go buy a bigger car than your neighbors, but the fact is if I buy a 10k lbs vehicle my neighbor would just buy a 12k lbs auto. Maybe the fact is instead of worrying about sub-compacts we should rather concern ourselves with monster vehicles on the road. I have yet to meet a single person that requires a Hummer or like size vehicle that could not be replaced with any number of better vehicles that literally and figuratively have less of an impact.

    Finally having said this I would say that I still have one bit of humor, a large number of roads I drive on have semi-tractor trailers and similar sized vehicles. Dare I say that in an impact with any of these it wouldn’t make an iota of difference if I am in a Mini or a Hummer, they are both nothing more than a speed-bump.

  • FrankInMiami

    I found this interesting excerpt about the IIHS: CAUTION! The IIHS is an insurance industry public relations and lobbying organization that publishes politically motivated faux studies to support, and promote, its collective self—interest, not the people or the general welfare of the public.

    Revelations from IIHS show that they may be a lead cause in the nations red—light running crisis and the associated high fatal accidents. They spearheaded a movement to shorten yellows causing more entries on red (collisions), this movement undermined sound engineering practices and benefited red light camera makers and the citation industry. Approximately 25 percent of this group’s sponsors income comes from citation surcharges. A report by congress showed that returning to sound engineering practices reduces accident rates and that these cameras are about money, not safety. Moreover, they are also a leading proponent of removing due process from automated traffic fine collection.

    Its position papers, studies, reports and compiling methods rarely conform to, or meet accepted scientific and traffic engineering research practices or pass peer review verifications. Too often, IIHS conclusions express a publicity driven political agenda that is not supported by fact (teen driving, red light cameras, speed, dui, etc.).

    Its crash test are of interest but its criteria does not reflect real world conditions nor does it represent a true picture of the vehicle’s overall safety design features (active and passive) or the testing done by its manufacturer examining all possible crash scenarios and safety concerns or its corresponding real world occupant safety record

  • FrankInMiami

    CAUTION! The IIHS is an insurance industry public relations and lobbying organization that publishes politically motivated faux studies to support, and promote, its collective self—interest, not the people or the general welfare of the public.

    Revelations from IIHS show that they may be a lead cause in the nations red—light running crisis and the associated high fatal accidents. They spearheaded a movement to shorten yellows causing more entries on red (collisions), this movement undermined sound engineering practices and benefited red light camera makers and the citation industry. Approximately 25 percent of this group’s sponsors income comes from citation surcharges. A report by congress showed that returning to sound engineering practices reduces accident rates and that these cameras are about money, not safety. Moreover, they are also a leading proponent of removing due process from automated traffic fine collection.

  • FrankInMiami

    Its position papers, studies, reports and compiling methods rarely conform to, or meet accepted scientific and traffic engineering research practices or pass peer review verifications. Too often, IIHS conclusions express a publicity driven political agenda that is not supported by fact (teen driving, red light cameras, speed, dui, etc.).

    Its crash test are of interest but its criteria does not reflect real world conditions nor does it represent a true picture of the vehicle’s overall safety design features (active and passive) or the testing done by its manufacturer examining all possible crash scenarios and safety concerns or its corresponding real world occupant safety record.

  • The actual data the IIHS published doesn’t even support the claims that the media are throwing around today 🙁 My rant: gbmini.net – Click it!

    db edited this so the link would work

  • Brendan

    iihs.org/news

    “(see attached ratings, which include the previously tested Mini Cooper; this car is being redesigned, and the Institute will test the new model when it’s available in 2007).”

    I wonder if the ’07 will do any better.

    db edited this so the link will work

  • two words: active safety.

  • Brendan

    What is ‘active safety’ ???

  • So by the rationale of this report the IIHS also could have recommended that more people should buy and drive small cars because if there were fewer multi-ton SUVs on the road wouldn’t we all be safer – statistically speaking?

    It’s all about the spin.

  • dz

    You hit the nail on the head, Todd. It’s all about who is paying for the airtime.

  • What is ‘active safety’ ???

    Active safety is the ability avoid accidents rather than simply brace and wait for impact (and hope all those passive safety devices work as advertised). Due to it’s exceptional handling and good braking (especially with the JCW brakes) the MINI is one of the best cars out there at offering a driver active safety and (assuming the driver is fully competent and paying attention) offering a real way to avoid accidents that most cars and all truck/SUVs simply can’t match.

  • Kevin

    Physics beats design, in this case. Cars are safer because of changes in design, but it’s a foregone conclusion that heavyweights beat up lightweights. You don’t need testing for that. It’s just a Captain Obvious sort of statement.

    Some of IIHS’ testing has at least clarified for the public how design changes can protect motorists and, I’d say, has helped steer the public toward safer designs.

    That said, in one-car accidents, I don’t think the big SUVs offer an advantage for occupants. I’ve never seen a Mini Cooper turn turtle on a highway on ramp, but it’s pretty common for full-size SUVs to do so.

    The IIHS tests that I’ve seen are limited to T-bones and slight-angle head on collisions. These aren’t typically super highway, high speed collisions. If you test in this format — No Surprise! — the car with the most sheet metal wins.

  • jdmarino
    What is ‘active safety’ ???

    This is the best article on the subject: Malcolm Gladwell’s article

  • Ted

    All I know is that hitting a telephone poll at 50 mph in a mini isn’t fun, but doesn’t hurt that bad.

  • Forget the commentary in the video (which was mostly ABC’s spin). Go to the IIHS’s website, review and compare the results for yourself – compare the MINI to other cars in it’s class and even to larger cars.

    All things considered, the car did OK. There are larger cars that did not score as well.

  • Michael

    The IIHS has an agenda to push, and that is to improve head restraint performance. To do this, they call it “rear crash” when in fact no crash is involved, even though they admit whiplashes aren’t life-threatening but instead “cost the industry millions of dollars.”

    IIHS tell media outlets what to say; they have an incredible influence over “consumer correspondent” shows like Dateline. The next day we hear stories that “small cars do poorly”, when in fact they do poorly only in “rear” crashes (like every other car segment), which HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH SIZE.

    FrankInMiami, Detroit has nothing to do with this. IIHS released their “2007 top safety picks” (heavily dependent on headrest ratings), and when no domestic brands (nor Toyotas) were on it, headlines were “Unsafe At Any Speed: American Cars”, “Domestic Cars Unsafe”, “Imported Cars Deemed Safest,” and so on. It’s no coincidence the focus on each of these stories (in this case, “small cars, more popular than ever”) are all so similar.

    The IIHS performs decent tests, but you have to analyze their data yourself. Small cars may have higher fatality rates, but they’re also driven by younger, less-experienced people.

  • SB

    What kind of agenda is this? Finally we have some vehicles that offer reasonable costs combined with safety and good mileage and they want to brainwash people back into gas guzzlers? Rediculous. But the cows will follow.

    I have an eight week old daughter that has ridden in my MINI. I feel comfortable having her travel in it. A lot more comfortable than something I know would not do well if I had to make a sudden correction in steering. I’m not talking just about SUV’s. Any car that weighs in around 3500lbs like a lot of cars out there. It’s a known fact that if you swing something heavy one way it’s not easy to stop and swing the other way. A MINI can do it and do it gracefully.

    That said. I do look both directions when the light turns green for me. You can’t control other peoples actions. But I’m more concerned with a single vehicle accident as I had read somewhere that it is the most common accident which includes fatalities. I’m not sure of a link as it has been over a year since I have read this.

  • Kennedy

    I can see already that this article is going to get people worked up. Just for reference, I am an auto safety engineer, I do biomechanics research to determine at what point we get injured in car crashes, the research behind what the “acceptable limits” are for the dummies used in the crash tests. And, yes, I drive a MINI (and a ’91 CRX as well). Personally, it strikes a discord within me for the kind of nuclear arms race that we’re in with vehicle size and safety… The implied “I am more important than you” mentality that comes across when everyone buys “bigger” than their neighbor, thus predisposing their neighbor to more injury risk should they run into each other while driving to the mailbox to collect their morning papers.

    As was said, absolutely, if we as a nation drove a collective smaller lot of vehicles, we’d be much better off. It’s all about size differential where the problem comes in. Sub-compacts vs. full size SUV, the outcome absolutely favors the SUV. Everyone can make the comments of small = agile = “I’m not going to avoid the accident” all they want. It’s the same argument I’m reduced to from time to time. But if you get hit, it’s now just a matter of engineering and physics.

    That said, a few comments: – In contrast to frontal crash tests, where you cannot compare small cars to big cars (a small car crashing into a barrier has less crash energy to absorb than a big car crashing into a barrier), you can compare side impact tests across vehicle size ranges (the same size simulated SUV crashing into the side of another vehicle always has the same amount of energy). This is pretty good news for small cars being able to hold their own in side impacts where they’re struck by much larger vehicles.

    • The MINI as they report the test results in this article was of course the R50/R53 model, designed from scratch the better part of a decade ago to hold its own against larger cars, knowing that people were going to perceive it as unsafe due to its size. The new model, although I have yet to see any official crash test results, should presumably fare better. Let’s hope it performs as well as the more recently designed (than the R50/R53) Versa and Yaris.
    • Rear impacts at IIHS are not really rear-end car crashes. Instead (as they show on the ABC video) the seat is mounted to a sled subjected to a “simulated” crash pulse. This is for low speed rear impacts, specifically to test for whiplash in low speed collisions. This does not have anything to do with overall vehicle safety in a rear impact, but is instead about what your risk of developing a more “chronic” injury should you be hit from the rear at low speed. Having done neck injury research myself, I would personally say that the MINI’s (R50/R53) headrests are not optimally designed for whiplash prevention (as are many, many other cars). Incidentally, it has been shown that your risk of whiplash goes down if you live in a no-fault state (seriously).
  • Kennedy

    Also, while certainly the IIHS has industry and political ties, they also do live up to a scientific obligation to present the truth. They do good work and promote much stricter crash test standards than the federal crash test regulations or NCAP tests. Undoubtedly there is strong evidence that their work has contributed to ever increasing vehicle safety performance on our roads today, as can be measured by the countless lives that are saved every year from very severe car crashes. IIHS promotes improved vehicle safety by means of economic pressure, very similar to US NCAP or EuroNCAP (the star rating systems that VW has recently been promoting in their ads). They test cars and use the media to get their message out for consumers to see.

    Consumers choose cars based on lots of factors including safety ratings, this forces the automakers to make better performing cars to stay current. The fact of the matter is – if you are walking to a dealer’s lot today and you feel the need to be in the absolute safest vehicle possible, it is not a MINI, a Versa, or a Yaris. You need to buy a bigger car — tomorrow’s better performing small car isn’t here today. So buying bigger is/can be safer, but fortunately it’s not the only checkbox on most everyone’s “desired features” list. Life is more complicated than that.

  • CM

    Alright, enough already with the defensiveness from Mini owners!

    Bottom line is that given Mini’s premium pricing and given its BMW heritage, it should be expected to do better than crapboxes like Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit…

    Let’s face it — highly characterful, lots of fun to drive and look at, but BMW didn’t do the job 100% in regard to quality and safety.

  • Hatchman

    Watch what you’re calling a crapbox. The FiT could cream the Mini in long-term reliability.

  • Ron Arnold

    Well, like Kennedy and others implied, vehicle safety is literally a moving target. What was a “best pick” is now “poor” (in a certain situation). For it’s time the R50 and 53 did a good job of protecting their occupants. Yes, it can be improved on (giant headrests?), but all things considered (visibility, handling, ahem – a better “class” of drivers who might be more involved in the act of motor- um, driving), the MINI is a superb effort in bringing safety and a premium driving experience to a small vehicle. Besides, it is absolutely more safe than the classic Mini…

  • Gary

    Seems kind of coincidental that USA today just recently ran an article talking about a 42% increase in sales of subcompact cars. Then this article comes out.

    One can’t argue physics. I have a 2004 4 cylinder Honda Accord. It gets reasonable mileage rated at 24/34 mpg. None of this has stopped me from ordering a 2007 mini for next year delivery!! I’ll take the 32/40 mpg rating of the base Cooper! The IIHS says a 4 cylinder Accord or Camary is as good as a subcompact in gas, I beg to differ. Over a year of 10000 miles driven 6/8 mpg difference is significant. Now when I go on a long trip with a lot of interstate driving to do, I’ll probably take the Accord, but for all my daily running around town and short trips, I’ll be in the Mini!. One of the problems we have here relative to gas usage is we all have the attitude that ‘it’s only 8 mpg less but look what you get.”
    I do have faith that many in America realize the math behind this or small cars would not be gaining in popularity. It will only take next summer’s inevitable $3+ per gallon cost of fuel to realize this again, like we did during the 70s. Back then Honda, Toyota, Nissan (then Datsun) were but passing fancies until gas lines hit. The Big three never fully recovered, but managaed to stay in business by once again convincing America that bigger and more powerful is better. Alas, that attitude will change over time again, and the Big 3 will, once again, be left out in the cold, this time maybe for good.

  • nervous

    “Active Saftey” – Right On! Put the cellphones away and you won’t need to be encased in a SUV.

  • FrankInMiami

    Based on close family member experiences with new Honda products, their reliability is certainly not what it used to be.

    Both the MINI and the Fit (a.k.a the Honda Jazz elsewhere in the world) were introduced to the market back in 2001 and both of these vehicles were designed around the same time period (Late 1990’s).

    Both have proven to be fairly reliable machines, so I am not sure about your comment about the “Fit” “Creaming” the MINI in long term reliability.

    That remains to be seen. While there are several MINIs in American roads with well over 100K miles in their odometers, the Honda Fit is a relatively new product to the American market. When you show me a few “Problem-free” Honda Fits with over 100K miles, then we’ll see who creamed who.

    Until then…

  • Hatchman

    I believe Honda in general would cream any BMW product, not only in reliability, but also is maintenance costs over the long term. Honda is renowned for quality; BMWs are similar to VWs in terms of mechanical reputation. The FiT, in particular, has won countless “car of the year” and head-to-head competitions. It has been in production for about six years and has thereby proven itself to be as reliable as any Honda. Just look at Consumer Reports if you want to compare the reliability of the FiT with that of the Mini, or Honda vs. BMW overall. The Mini is a beautiful car, and I considered buying one, but it’s basically an expensive toy with potential mechanical gremlins, like the Beetle. Thus, I made the wise choice, in my humble opinion and with all due respect to those who drive a Mini. Cheers.

  • Kennedy – I think you just won MF Comment of the Month with your first comment above.

  • FrankInMiami

    Hatchman, I have owned 3 MINIs and have close to 90K miles combined from all of them under my belt. Thes ecars have been as reliable if not more reliable than the 6 Honda Accords and 2 Acuras I owned before them.

    My ’05 MCS has 20K miles and it hasn’t had a single warranty repair in the 21 months since I first took delivery. Not a single problem, issue, nothing, nada, zilch.

    My wife’s ’02 MC CVT has 40k Miles and the car is 4 and a half years old. Again, not a single problem with it.

    Both MINIs are hard working dailiy driver’s, not garage beauty queens or weekend “toys” as you call them.

    Your post reeks of “self pating” in the back for getting a Honda Fit. I am sure it is a fine little car and will serve you well, but to put down the MINI (A car you obviously have never owned) is asinine at best.

  • FrankInMiami

    Hatchman, don’t forget the MINI has won an equal amount of awards in the car industry (Automotive News car of the year 2003) as the Fit has over the years.

    In case you haven’t noticed yet, the MINI is currently “recommended” by Consumer Reports.

  • FrankInMiami

    Kennedy, excellent comments and perspective, but I am still bothered by the campaign of mis-information heralded by the IIHS and the US mass media.

    The “Bigger is Better” suggestion to prospect car buyers is pretty ignorant and misleading at best. The problem here is not the existence of small cars but the presence of 5000 pound behemoths sharing our public roads.

    The IIHS is a questionnable agency and the mouthpiece of the insurance industry and industry known for their depredatory practices upon american consumers (Look to Florida for yet another glaring example as to how this industry is damaging our economy).

    “Bigger is Better” is very embedded in the fabric of our culture. The sad thing about yesterday’s IIHS press release and the media backing of it is that this country, after all is said and done, will never ever learn and bad habits die hard.

  • Nathaniel Salzman
    Due to it’s incredible handling and good braking (especially with the JCW brakes) the MINI is one of the best cars out there at offering a driver active safety and (assuming the driver is fully competent and paying attention) offering a real way to avoid accidents that most cars and all truck and SUVs simply can’t match.

    I can personally attest to this principle in my MINI. Just last week a heavy duty pickup truck turned right in front of me as I was coming through an intersection. The street I was on narrows from three west-bound lanes to one from one side of the intersection to the other (a right and left turn lane on either side of me in the through lane). The truck was facing east and turned north through the intersection as if I wasn’t even there. I was just reaching the white stripe marking the edge of the intersection when he turned through. My only option at that point was to punch it and swing around in front of him if I wanted to avoid t-boning him. The tricky part was getting around him and tucking the car back in before hitting the curb on the other side. Thankfully it is a five lane intersection and I had just barely enough space to get around him and back into my proper lane. I was doing probably 45 mph and when I turned back in to dodge the curb, all four tires were screaming at me and my stock-suspended MINI over-steered about 30 degrees when I centered back into my lane. Those who drive MINIs can have some appreciation for just how hard I would have to be pushing the car at that point for such a result. But in spite of the extreme maneuvering, the car was completely composed the entire time – even during the over-steer. The net outcome was just leaving some rubber behind and a big injection of adrenaline. I could feel DSC kick in and do its job. In fact, I didn’t even have to correct the over-steer, DSC did it for me. As I came out the other side and continued on my merry way, I had zero doubt that had I been driving virtually anything else, I would have hit either the truck or the curb with disastrous results.

    (side note: anyone wondering if DSC is worth the $500, I assure you it is)

    As for these crash tests. The results are pretty good when we take the time to actually look at them, as others have pointed out above. My beef with this report is just the poor journalism. The “small cars aren’t safe” bias is evident from the beginning, and that’s not because I want to defend the MINI. If the car does poorly in the crash tests, tell me about it, but don’t go in there trying to sensationalize the idea that small = unsafe. The IIHS gentleman giving his “you should buy bigger cars” speech was obviously answering the direct question from the reporter. That story could have just as easily been “sub-compact cars hold their own in crash tests in spite of their size” but the reporter (and who knows what agenda behind the scenes) went into that story looking for unsafe little cars and even when she didn’t really find them, tried to push a bigger = safer agenda none the less.

  • Vanwall

    All this argy-bargy over size – it’s pretty obvious who’s overcompensating, and who’s not. 😉 As M. Kkennedy sez, if all vehicles were smaller, there would be less of this misconcieved perception that bigger is better – fuel prices will eventually level the field of the IC engine world, and this whole contretemps will be looked back upon as an abberation. People will easily be sold a bill of goods – there’s one born every minute, said old P.T., and basically that’s what happened with SUVs with the active complicity of of the (non) regulatory bodies. I figure I’ll live longer by alert driving in a small vehicle with a good-sized performance envelope, rather than in a urban assault vehicle that depends on a trade off of the laws of physics with other behemoths, over maneuverability.

    As for the latest and greatest tests here, Push-selling by statistics is an old dodge, (yeah, I know, not many of those on the road, either!) and even tho these tests are portrayed as altruistic, agendas must be met by all involved.

    As for reliabilty, until my mom’s ’82 Honda with over 350,000 miles on the clock was stolen, most of the complaints she had were the natural deterioration of the interior plastic under the Southwestern sun. The damn thing was unkillable, and although I can’t say I miss it, it was freakishly reliable.

    Too soon to tout the Fit over the MINI – which do you really think will be remembered 40 years on? – but each to his own: hard to flog a people mover thru the twisties, and you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, so my preference is the MINI, but the Fit is a clever little piece of work. Go Small!

                 BCNU,
              Rob in Dago
    
  • lavardera

    Does anybody know if the side airbags in the R56 have gone to a curtain form bag rather than the tubular form bag in the R53?

  • Matt

    To the IIHS’s credit, they have finally started factoring in electronic stability control into their equation. This is about 5 years too late though. Sometimes you need a real automotive engineer at the test center to explain to the statisticians why something will work. But when you’re bankrolled by people who only want to reduce the COST of accidents, things like stability control get lost to “bumper tests.”

    The IIHS’s own data from a couple years ago in testimony before Congress says that every 100 lb increase in vehicle weight past about 3500 lbs statistically bears no added saftey to those involved in a collision. Which means any vehicle weighing over 3500 lbs falls under the “tank principle.” Weight for the sake of quelling a fear, instead of providing higher levels of chassis stiffness.

    This is all from a purely statistical standpoint, but the statement given by the guy from the IIHS in the ABC piece was not qualified to exlude framerail vehicles like SUVs or vehicles that generally exceed 3500 lbs in curb weight.

    The ABC piece was wreckless simplification of a very complex topic. No discussion of chassis stiffness data, how much more important electronic stability control is, or suspension and tires. You can’t talk about this stuff with the general public using the same amount of time that you devote to the 5 day weather forecast.

    Last thing, shame on BMW for not making DSC a deletable standard option on MINIs. The only people who do not need DSC are those that trailer their MINIs to local track events. Everyone else should have it, no exceptions. Even the best race drivers in the country can be distracted on a public road for the few seconds it takes for something terrible to happen.

    Preaching to the chior, of course. Hopefully someone will Google “DSC” and read this though.

    I can’t wait for the day when the traction control/ASC functions of the DSC system can be disabled and we can hang it out under power with just a little bit of help from the yaw control portion of the DSC…. Here’s hoping it comes soon.

    Happy Holidays,

    Matt

  • Bilbo Baggins

    The IIHS prepared a report some years ago that infact the SUV and the large pickup were far worse than the mid-sized sedan (which they thought was the safest). I did not see in the ABC article that they were recommending SUVs, only something the size of a Corolla.

    But the whole “active” vs “passive” safety thing is another issue. Almost impossible to employ active safety when you are driving a 5,000lb land yacht.

    I like my MINI. I tell people all the time that it is much safer because it is a smaller target to hit, and it moves quickly.

  • eto

    There certainly is an interesting tilt on this report circulating in the media, but when you look at the larger automobile classifications, you find that bigger is not better.

    For instance, the next size classification is small car. Over half of the cars in this category score Poor in side impact testing, and very few score Acceptable or Good in rear impact tests.

    The next size classification we’ll look at is Moderately Priced Midsize Cars. Far fewer cars in the category, and overall they scores are better than the two smaller classes, but there is only one car that scores Good in all three tests – the Subaru Legacy.

    What was surprisingly omitted is the lack of side impact testing and overall moderate and poor rear crash test results of Mid-size SUVs. Why has this information been missed? Surely the media checked the full results as I did of other classes to compare before deriding the rise of the sub-compact. Surely…

  • Hatchman

    FrankInMiami

    Let’s just say I’ve done my homework 😉 Merry Christmas and drive well.

  • meb

    …my 2005 JCW Mini has been driven for 81K miles so far and close to 1,000 of those miles has been on a track. I’ve replaced the rear pads, in addition to regular maintenance, that’s it. The Mini isn’t perfect, but it will cream the FiT on any road, anywhere while maintain pretty much the same GPM.

    BMW/Mini could learn a thing or two from Honda’s gear changer, they are the best. On the other hand, Honda’s steering systems are lifeless and overly boosted mecahnism that make one feel like one is participating in a video game. Honda/Acura braking systems typicaly perform below average…my old 99Si broke a record for the longest braking distance from 60 mph. I’ve got about 500,000 miles in various Honda products and although the reliability was very good, the quality of the driving experience was plain vanilla.

  • Teresa

    I wish they had mentioned what happens when an SUV rolls over & all that “bigger & better” weight crushes the roof in.

    Now if I get injured by an SUV hitting me can I sue the driver for being negligent? I mean now we have widely televised proof that they are driving a lethal weapon so all SUV owners should be held to a higher accountability LOL.

  • Scarlett O’MINI

    Another ’91 CRX owner here (mine was the HF). I sold her when I bought my MINI, but I’m sure she’s still going strong with her new owner. After 165K miles, she had no dings or hits, and I’m positive it was due to her small size and great agility. Scarlett O’MINI is just as agile (but not as small). 😉

  • bavarian

    …kudos to Scarlett O’MINI and kennedy for the ’91 crx dap…

    …my MC and MCS are the only things i’ve driven in my life that made me feel as competent, safe, and socially responsible as the old CRX…

    …the CRX was the epitome of build quality, fun, and efficiency (190,000 miles — nothing has broken that i didn’t break) with semi-go-kart handling, super-light weight, and 45 mpg i still can’t bring myself to get rid of it…

    …however, any efficiency, or superficial build quality issue (interior, exterior plastics) deficiencies that i see with MINI — NONE of it would ever drive me to go back to honda for my small car needs…

    …their innocence was lost with the del sol…

    …and the hatchback gods became to fast or furious to ever to forgive them…

  • bavarian racing green

    read ‘too fast or furious’

  • Volkan

    Co-worker had an accident with his Toyota Camry (2-door, sport version 🙂 Apparently, he was driving behind a MINI, and MINI just swirled around a piece of furniture on the highway and continued its way without any problems. When he tried to do the same, Camry started to spin after the first sharp turn to avoid the object. The rest is hitting the center divider, hitting another car coming in the very last lane and a 3rd mid-size car that could not “avoid” him. So, all three mid-size cars were in the mess because they could not avoid to hit something on the road.

    I know there are some situations that you cant help in an accident. I was rear-ended in my MINI (4 cars were involved; my 03 MCS was the only one not-totalled). In those cases, you cant do much… However, when it comes to agility, we have the advantage So, with that, I wish all of us a safe and happy holiday season! Please drive safe and alert.

  • Shamus

    I love the fact that no one bothers to look at real-life figures… outside the US. There is a bigger percentage of small cars to large cars in europe as opposed to the US, which is opposite. Within that given percentage, there are fewer crash related fatalities than the US. Of course, there are more factors at work, including a higher average driver age, per capita income level, and more driver education, but the overall conclusion is the same…

    When your kids are throwing cheerios all over the back seat because their Barney DVD ended and you tell your fiend Trisha to hang on a minute while “I put down the phone to switch DVDs” while accidentally running a red light, you are more likely to get your stupid, inattentive a** saved by the sheer mass of an over-inflated american SUV than if you did the same boneheaded thing in a hatchback.

  • Matt

    Shamus,

    Excellent points. If we had more driver training here and the kinds of penalties for infractions like DUIs that much of Europe has, we’d probably be in a much better situation in this country sheet metal wise since safety would be percieved more as a public responsibility and less of one that must be personally protected.

    I don’t want to completely jack the thread but the stats about the autobahn being safer per mile than the US interstate comes to mind in the same thought….

    I sold MINIs for a few years, it was remarkable how many people would step out of an SUV, truck, or some other 2 ton beast for a test drive in a MINI and only use about 20-30% of the grip available even after being told to push it. Having to drive something with so little grip and stability like a truck or SUV on a public road should at least require more licensing if not cost exponentially more to operate.

    Also I remember a friend telling me about spending time in residential areas in Germany where there were literally trees right in the middle of the road, on the edge of the lane (not with the massive curbs and dividers like we have here). There is also something to striping or narrowing lanes so that you feel like you are going faster than you actually are. These measures would have more of an impact on the SUV with Mom changing DVDs (as she struggles to stay within the lane) than you or I in a MINI.

    I always try to remember this stuff whenever I hear someone bemoaning how driver’s are not benevolent or don’t think of others. Sometimes people just don’t pay attention. A little healthy fear and some optical illusions might do more than simply asking people to “slow down,” “pay attention,” or buy smaller cars. Hopefully we could change our roads to force people into making better decisions about how much control they have over a larger vehicle.

    Best Regards, Matt

  • Lisa

    That’s the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen! And reaffirms why I do not watch TV news! Its like there is no news, and so they make things up. Wait! was that The Onion?? It is scary to me that these news stations believe the US public is that dumb! All of the ratings are “Acceptable” so based on a comparison between 5 similar cars, they say small cars are not safe? How is that a valid study? They all rated acceptable, and where are those BIG SAFE cars in the test? How big do they want us to go? What about all those INSANE people in Europe and Australia who only sell and buy small cars?