Which is safer?
Depends on a lot of things. What vehicles are you considering?
For example, a brand new Mazda wagon is safer than a 1993 Ford Explorer, but a 93 Explorer is probably safer than a 1940 wagon.
We are considering
2007 Honda CR-V
2007 Toyota Highlander (possible Hybrid)
2007 Acura RDX
2007 Volvo V50
2007 Saab 9-3
There are safety advantages to both.
A wagon sitting closer to the ground is less likely to roll over in a panic situation.
A SUV on the other had being higher up gives you seeing advantages over other cars so it can help you avoid any problems.
The SUV’s your inquiring about are essentially car based ones. I would go with what you like more in this case. The emergency handling of those cars will be plain superior to any SUV.
Look at the IIHS web site for information. The ratings are normalized; 100 is average, lower is better.
MDX 74/75/54 (RDX too new)
V50 Not Available
You can check ratings for other cars and trucks, too.
Those two wagons are expensive to maintain when they break down and are generally regarded as maintenance headaches. Consumer Reports rates the Saab 93 as much worse than average in reliability and the volvo V50 as worse than average. Even though this is neutral information, the Volvo V 50 shares mechanical components with the Mazda 3 and European Ford Focus. This may not be bad but… The Highlander and the Hondas seem to be rated much better for reliability. Of course, some people don’t believe C R because their car still runs great. It’s like odds; some teams never beat other teams but you may have second thoughts on betting all you have. Be well informed as to the depth of the water if you can’t swim.
It’s a tough call based on your list. Ignoring all the “crash test” and “consumer reports” noise, I would general say wagons are safer because they handle more like real cars and are less likely to end up on their roofs in an emergency situation. Also, your list implies that you don’t really need an SUV, you are just considering them for safety. Personally, I would never buy a SUV/truck/van unless I absolutely needed one to haul around lots of stuff. Most folks just seem to use them as mini-vans (but they don’t want to be seen in an actually mini-van for obvious reasons). If you can put up with driving one, you may feel differently.
However, I can’t get very excited about each of the wagons on your list due to their association with ford and GM. I was very happy with an older saab, but I’m not sure I would buy one now. The volvo might be interesting to look at, but I don’t know much about the current ones, maybe someone here owns one?
The 9-3 Wagon is a triple IIHS saftey pic and a very safe car. I personally LOVE the sport combi and it would be my choice hands down of the cars in question. I have had the chance to drive one alot, and I just love it… The reliability of the new cars are good as well, the older 9-3’s (2003, and 2004) were iffy, but they have it all sorted out now and I dont hear many bad things any more.
PS All Wheel Drive will be out in 2008, as well as a redisigned exterior.