Understanding the safety ratings

If a subcompact car gets a NHTSA 5* crash rating, does that mean that it is as safe as a much bigger car that gets a 5* rating?

Or does it just mean that WITHIN ITS CLASS (subcompact), it gets 5*?

In other words, would a bigger, heavier car with 5* be safer than a small car with 5*?

And would a bigger, heavier car with only 4* be safer than a small car with 5*?

Thanks! Laurel

Vehicles are rated within their class. If you crive a Civic are are run over by a Suburban, you lose, even if the number of stars is the same.

Just because a vehicle is bigger and heavier, however, doesn’t mean it’s “safer.” Trucks and SUVs are not held to the same safety standards as passenger cars, so a car may be “safer” than a truck or SUV. It all depends on the vehicle(s) in question.

It’s a very complicated system; if you can figure it out please let me know.

Personally, I’m sticking with cars. The latest models do quite well in all crash tests, and are held to the highest standards.

I buy vehicles I plan to drive, not vehicles I plan to crash.