Are higher "cars" (SUVs and Minivans) safer?

Specifically safer than a Suburu wagon? I was speaking with another mother of three young children (all in car seats) the other day about why she bought a new minivan. I personally hate minivans, I don’t like drivnig vechicles that are big and high up. I found a car seat that can fit three across in the back of our Suburu wagon when our third was born. She said it was for “safety”. Which led me to wonder is a higher car really safer or is that a myth?

Minivans are pretty safe, tall SUVs used to be unsafe because of the rollover risk, but newer SUVs are lower, with stability control, so their safety is fine. You Subaru (depending on the year), is certainly fine, more so if it has side airbags front and back. What year?

98% of “safety” is the person behind the wheel.

myth. Some people feel sitting “higher” is safer. These higher vehicles are top heavy and more prone to roll over in an accident. That isn’t safer.

Not sure about now…but one time not too long ago the Toyota Sienna Minivan was considered the SAFEST vehicle EVER…as tested by the Insurance industry.

Generally speaking…a SUV or minivan with a higher center are more prone to rollovers then a car. And for years…trucks and minivans were EXEMPT from the same safety standards as cars.

But a SUV or Minivan have an advantage of seeing over traffic better and thus giving the driver more time to react.

I agree with “everyone”. YES, higher seating is better for visibility. Often though, it comes at a sacrifice of worse handling if the car’s CoG is raised for that reason.

I think she was specifically speaking of the (unlikely) event that you crash head on or get majorly rear ended by another large/ heavy car that a minivan would do better than a lower/ lighter car. Doesn’t this kind of logic though sort of become a kind of a car arms race? Every one wants a bigger car so their car is “safer”. I suppose at some point when my children are much bigger and one gets tired of being squeezed in the middle I will have to get a bigger car but when they are all in car seats and don’t need the room or leg room I’m really confused why any one would want to drive one of those things around. I personally like to be able to do things like flip a U-turn when needed an parallel park… but then she got me wondering if I was being selfish because I wasn’t driving a tank around to protect my offspring…

Every one wants a bigger car so their car is “safer”.

Big doesn’t mean safer!!! Volvo’s were never BIG cars, but for years they were well ahead of other cars on the road in terms of safety.

There’s a lot of science behind what makes a car safe.

About 20 years ago this small startup car company in upstate NY designed and built what was considered the safest vehicle EVER…It was decades ahead of it’s time. The company never made it though. But they build a very small car that was almost indestructible and could keep the occupants safe even in a 60mph head-on crash. You see it every day where race cars will crash doing speeds well over 100mph and the driver walks away. But safety costs MONEY and it also at times takes away from it’s practicality. How many street legal cars do you see with Roll Cages???


IMO there are two parts to safety; avoidance and ability to survive. The best vehicle I’ve driven for avoidance is a high powered motorcycle. The problem is, the absoluteness when an accident does occur. The best vehicle for survival is a state plow truck. The problem is avoidance (if the lights aren’t on). Some thing in between might be a higher powered rwd/awd luxury car in the Lexus, BMW Mercedes stables and “maybe” some of their car based SUVs.

Safety, probably. More convenient, definitely.
I couldn’t imagine having to strap and unstrap 3 car seats 3 wide in ANY vehicle.

A front or rear collision is not the issue. A side collision should be safer if the occupants ride high. A trunk or engine compartment offers a crumple zone that does not exist in a side impact.

I used to dislike minivans until I owned one. We’re on our second. There is no more efficient and cost effective way to convey people and cargo than a minivan. And the best thing is that you can separate the kids and they can’t hit each other. As they grow older, they will be able to annoy each other from a distance, but I found other ways to control them. Two things worked particularly well:

  1. I called them Moe, Larry, and Curly. Being equated to the Stooges seemed to quiet them down.

  2. I threatened to get a stretch limo with a glass privacy window. My wife and I would ride up front, and we’d keep the one(s) that lived after we rolled up the privacy window and closed the curtain.