SUVs Are Safer than Sedans & Minivans: 8 Reasons (We Checked)

While there are many factors to consider when choosing a vehicle, the vehicle’s safety is likely to be at the top of your list.

If you’re comparing SUVs, sedans, and minivans, the safest option will almost always be the SUV. Granted, there’s also the argument that SUVs all look like minivans anyway.

Below, you’ll find 8 reasons why SUVs are winners in the safety department.

1. Most SUVs Offer Better Visibility

Visibility plays a crucial role in safety when you’re on the road.

These are the 5 SUVs with the best visibility

You need to be able to spot potential obstacles so that you can speed up, slow down, or put your foot on the brakes. SUVs are generally taller and have a higher ground clearance than sedans or minivans, which can help you see what’s on the road in front of you.

In fact, Consumer Reports ranks the 2023 Subaru Forester as one of the best vehicles around when it comes to visibility.

While this vehicle has a high ground clearance, it also has low side mirrors, making it easy to spot pedestrians. In addition, the vehicle has a large windshield and slim roof pillars.

SUVs come in a range of sizes, and smaller SUVs won’t always be safer than larger minivans and sedans.

With that said, if you want to make sure you can see what’s happening around you when you’re on the road, an SUV is a great option. Common SUV safety features, like adaptive headlights, also improve visibility.

2. Larger and Heavier Vehicles Reduce the Risk of Injuries During Accidents

While you can’t always prevent accidents, there are ways to reduce your risk of injury if an accident does occur.

With all things being equal, a heavier vehicle will provide you with more protection than a vehicle that’s more lightweight.

Larger vehicles also give occupants more room to move, helping to shield them from injury in the case of a collision.

SUVs typically weigh somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000 pounds, with midsize vehicles clocking in at about 5,000 pounds.

Sedans typically weigh between 2,800 and 3,000 pounds, while minivans generally weigh around 3,850 to 4,950 pounds.

As long as you opt for a larger SUV, the heft of your vehicle will help keep you safe. Also, explore all the reasons cars are safer than motorcycles.

Why are heavier vehicles safer?

During a collision, heavier vehicles typically keep moving forward, which means the vehicle’s passengers aren’t subjected to as much force. In serious accidents, this could be a life-saving benefit.

In addition, SUVs have heavy front bumpers that function as crumple zones.

Smaller cars have very little crumple zone.

They can absorb some of the energy from the impact, essentially functioning as a cushion. This helps to reduce the amount of time it takes for the vehicle to come to a complete stop.

3. SUVs Are Durable

Not only does the weight of SUVs make them safer, but an SUV has more reinforcement than your average minivan or sedan.

While the durability of an SUV will vary based on the make and model that they choose, SUVs are typically built with reinforced body panels.

This design choice is one of many reasons that SUVs perform so well in crash testing.

This is particularly true of SUVs with off-road capabilities, like the 2023 Toyota Sequoia. It’s a full-size, body-on-frame SUV that was specifically designed to handle rough terrain.

Fullsize SUVs also offer exceptional durability and are consistently rated as the toughest vehicles on the market.

Many of these SUVs, like the Chevorlet Tahoe or the GMC Yukon, have a robust, truck-like design.

We have more here on whether SUVs or Pickup trucks are safer.

When you compare these vehicles to the typical sedan or minivan, it’s clear that they can’t compete when it comes to sturdiness.

Even if you opt for a crossover SUV with a more modern design, it’s likely that you’ll be buying a heavy-duty vehicle.

4. SUVs Are Usually Equipped with Safety Features

Technological advances have made modern vehicles much safer than automobiles of the past. Features like lane centering assistance, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic warning help to reduce the risk of accidents while you’re on the road.

While many vehicles offer these types of features, they’re usually included as standard features with SUVs.

For example, if you choose to buy a 2023 Hyundai Tucson, every model is equipped with features like automatic emergency braking and driver drowsiness monitoring.

Standard safety features on the 2023 Mazda CX-5 include nighttime pedestrian detection and an adaptive front lighting system. Buick Enclaves even come with a Teen Driver System, which allows parents to set limits for young drivers.

You’ll still have access to safety features if you opt for a sedan or a minivan, but the features you have access to may be more limited.

In addition, the package of safety features may be more limited for standard models.

When it comes to cutting-edge safety features, it’s clear that SUVs are ahead of the pack.

5. More SUVs Offer 4-Wheel Drive or All-Wheel Drive

4-wheel drive and all-wheel drive both provide vehicles with superior traction when driving on bumpy or slippery terrain.

Four-wheel drive can be turned on or off, sending power to each axle when it’s engaged.

Typically, all-wheel drive systems are computer controlled and automatically enabled, ensuring that drivers have extra traction when it’s needed.

It’s very common for SUVs to offer one or both of these features, ensuring that SUV drivers have access to the protection that it provides. All-wheel drive can significantly reduce the risk of an accident in snowy or rainy weather.

4-wheel drive can keep vehicles steady when driving off-road.

Currently, there are only two current minivan models that offer all-wheel drive.

While there are more sedans with all-wheel drive, the feature still isn’t as common as it is with SUVs. If you live in an area that sees a lot of rain or snowfall, this is a feature you’ll definitely want to have access to.

6. Newer SUVs Have a Lower Center of Gravity

In the past, SUVs had a high center of gravity, which increased the risk of rollovers during crashes. While this gave sedans and minivans a clear advantage over SUVs, it’s no longer the case.

Today SUVs often have a lower center of gravity.

Automobile manufacturers responded to this risk by updating SUV models and lowering their center of gravity.

Newer SUVs have wider wheelbases, which makes them more stable than older models. 

SUVs of all sizes have a lower center of gravity, and most SUVs are equipped with Electronic stability control (ESC) systems. These systems are able to automatically brake individual wheels during a crash, making SUVs less likely to flip over.

Rollover safety is still a concern with older SUV models, but if you’re buying a newer model, this shouldn’t be a concern.

Some SUVs, like the Toyota Highlander, are equipped with overhead airbags, which provide protection during a rollover.

8. More SUVS Have Top Safety Ratings

Every year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) runs a variety of tests to evaluate how well a vehicle will hold up in a crash. These tests are extensive and look at a variety of factors, including the vehicle’s roof strength, headlight systems, and automatic braking systems.

The top-performing vehicles are given the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.

In 2022, there were 50 different SUV models that received the Top Safety Pick+ award. 

A wide range of SUV models walked away with the prestigious award, including small SUVs like the Ford Bronco Sport and mid-size models like the Mazda CX-9.

If you’re in the market for vehicle with excellent safety ratings, choosing an SUV will give you more options.

The IIHS also states that larger vehicles like SUVs generally provide more protection than lighter vehicles like sedans. Smaller vehicles that receive the Top Safety Pick+ award won’t necessarily be as safe as larger vehicles that receive the same award.

If you’re looking for a vehicle with high safety ratings, you can’t go wrong with an SUV.

8. Studies Show That SUVs Are Safer In Crashes

The data doesn’t lie. Study after study shows that SUVs provide more protection to passengers in accidents, especially in front-end collisions.

In fact, one study found that the odds of a fatality in an accident were 7.6 times higher for a sedan driver versus the driver of an SUV.

This is also why the police drive SUVs.

That same report found that SUVs fared better in accidents than sedans that had higher safety ratings.

While safety ratings are a valuable tool, the size and type of vehicle is ultimately a better predictor of the outcome of a crash. Not only do SUVs sustain less damage in crashes, but the high ground clearance of an SUV reduces the risk of injury to passengers.

While minivans also have a higher ground clearance than sedans, there are some studies that indicate that minivans don’t always perform well in crash tests.

Minivans are usually built on car platforms, which means they’re not designed to absorb impact in the same way an SUV can. If you’re choosing a vehicle based on research, it’s clear that SUVs are the safest option.

Final Thoughts

The size, durability, and design of SUVs make them some of the safest vehicles around. While smaller SUVs won’t always be safer than sturdier sedans or minivans, fullsize SUVs are hard to beat.

There are even many midsize SUVs that provide drivers and passengers with exceptional protection.

Safety ratings can be a valuable tool when you’re shopping for a new vehicle, but they shouldn’t be the only resource that you rely on.

More often than not, SUVs will be a step above other types of vehicles with similar safety ratings. If you want a vehicle that you can depend on, a midsize or full-size SUV is likely to be your best choice.

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