Car makers worried about new roof standardsEnlarge Photo
"We acknowledge the improvement, but we're not ready to say they're better," said Fleming. While most of the dramatic improvement in rollover performance is due to improved roof protection, cars have some catching-up to do in the statistics as many models didn't get stability control until the past year or two, Fleming explained. The IIHS now tests vehicles on a regular basis for roof crush, but we're still also several years away from a stronger federal standard that will apply to all SUVs.
"Purely in the interest of self-preservation, an SUV might very well be as good as a large car by now," said Fleming, but the potential damage you could do to other occupants should be considered, too.
Crossover vehicles the best compromise?
If you're dizzied by all these figures and percentages, you're not alone. What you need to take away from this is that SUVs have gotten a lot safer in recent years. And that it looks like mid-size or large crossover vehicles—of the lowest, most carlike variety—might be the best compromise.
The elephant in the room, of course, is that what we call SUVs today are in general very different than the SUVs of a decade ago. You're probably safer in one of the larger crossover vehicles that's also low enough to be maneuverable in an emergency and have a lower chance of rollover. Looking at the IIHS's list of Top Safety Picks, that would include vehicles like the Cadillac SRX and Chevrolet Equinox, Lexus RX, Subaru Tribeca, Subaru Forester, and Toyota Venza, among many others.
Of course we're still open to arguments here. Cars handle better, so in the hands of a skilled driver, or one more at ease with the vehicle, the chances of an accident might be lower.
Are there still other factors that aren't showing up in the numbers? What type of vehicle do you think is safest, and why?