Just One Out of Three Large SUVs Performed Well in New IIHS Collision Tests

As we saw with midsize SUVs and minivans, not all larger vehicles offer good protection to occupants and some of them can provide a false sense of safety on the road. New tests conducted on full-size SUVs tend to demonstrate the same thing.

The U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently evaluated three popular models including the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition and Jeep Wagoneer. Only the latter managed to perform well enough to earn a Top Safety Pick award.

The Tahoe and Expedition received an acceptable and marginal rating, respectively, in the small overlap front crash test. How bad is that? Well, more than 90 percent of new models have sailed through this evaluation with good ratings since 2021.

“The huge mass of these large SUVs provides some additional protection in crashes with smaller vehicles, though that also means they present more danger to other road users,” IIHS President David Harkey said. “The flip side of their large size is that there is a lot more force to manage when they crash into a fixed obstacle like a tree or bridge abutment or the barrier we use in our front crash tests.”

In the updated moderate overlap front crash test, which is run with an additional dummy in the second row, none of the three SUVs performed well. In fact, the Wagoneer and Expedition earned a marginal rating, while the Tahoe scored a poor rating. Remember, these vehicles are primarily designed to haul families and large groups of people.

Only the Expedition has second-row belt pretensioners, which can mitigate belt forces, but its injury metrics were no better than those seen in the other two SUVs. Its side curtain airbag for the rear passenger also failed to deploy.

In the poor-rated Tahoe, the IIHS observed a high risk of head or neck injuries, along with the chest injury risks. The second-row lap belt also slid onto the rear dummy’s abdomen, increasing the risk of abdominal injuries.

It’s worth noting that all three SUVs got a good rating in the side crash test. Two of them did the same in the pedestrian crash avoidance evaluation, but the Tahoe couldn’t do better than a marginal rating, mainly due to sub-par performance at night. Incidentally, the IIHS found these vehicles to have disappointing headlights.

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