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Old Volvo 940. How safe verses a five star modern small car?

Interesting test by 5th Gear.


I would not consider anything over 10 years old as being as safe as even a small new car. Energy absorption and disersion is a constantly improving science, and the features designed into cars today weren’t 10+ years ago.

And then there’s the wear factor, a major safety issue. Old braking system, old chassis,…they malfunction. Old engine break down in the most inconvenient and often unsafe places. Old seatbelt retractors…we could probably do a whole thread on how rarely they still work right.

I’ve also seen old Volvos with the front strut towers rotted out…how safe is that?
And how much crash protection does a unibody with hidden rot provide?

There’s more to safety than just steel.

Americar, That Was Interesting!

If nothing else, it was good to see that the little car held up so well. Engineers are making amazing progress. It was pointed out that it may be time to rethink the convention that a heavier car will hold up better in a crash.

It was pointed out that the Modus absorbed energy across most of the front-end, whereas the Volvo got knifed-through on one side. Also pointed out was that the Volvo actually acted as another “crumple zone” for the Modus. What would happen if the Modus hit another Modus, each travelling 40 in an off-set head-on crash and couldn’t use the other Modus as much as a “crumple zone”?

Is There an advantage in running into an older “squishy” car?
Does running a Modus into an off-set crash barrier hold the answer to that question? Do you hit it at 40 or 80?
How does a Modus do in a side impact?

Every time I see someone recommending an old Volvo “tank” as a good car for young drivers, I think, “that was then, and this is now.” There’s something to be said for mass, but there’s a lot more to be said for modern automotive construction techniques and safety features.

I don’t like the whole idea of which car is “safer” than which other car. I believe the driver is still the most important safety feature in any car, but the way a car is built has a lot to do with the outcome if you do happen to be involved in a crash.

Things have come a long way since the old days. I remember watching videos of a Smart car crashing into a stationary barrier at high speed, and was amazed to see that the doors still functioned.

I’m also amazed at how poorly many SUVs do in a crash. Some of them fold up rather easily, but many people continue to perceive them as “safer” than automobiles because of their size.

All of this is great until you collide with a semi-truck, then you lose no matter what you’re driving.

Great post! The Nissan Versa is essentially the same car as the Modus, so it must also have the same crashworhtiness.

While the choice of car is important, the driver is far more important. Give me a safe driver in at OK car over a poor driver in the best car any day.

Interesting, indeed. I’ve always recommended larger as safer, and will continue to do so. I normally think of the comparison between contemporary cars; not ones with such different ages. But it’s worth noting in the future that old, large cars are not as safe in general as new cars of just about any size.

I’m Still With The Larger Cars For Safety. Here’s An Article About Contemporaries.

According to a study published by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, the institute’s president Adrian Lund says, "… But the laws of physics still apply, and accident data shows that a larger, heavier vehicle generally offers its occupants more protection in most types of accidents.?

P.S. I would never let my kids buy or drive a Grand Am and I still wouldn’t. However, some of the data I believe, is skewed by demographics (Am I saying that right?). Why would you think Buicks come out as well as they do? I think it’s because most Buick drivers aren’t in a group of the population who speed excessively, go drinking and driving with their buddies, or try to show-off their driving skills to other teen-agers, for example. I see Grand Ams as more of a teen’s car, in a group of dangerous drivers.