There are plenty of perks to owning a small car or SUV: they’re cheaper to buy and maintain and more fuel efficient than their hulking peers. Plus, they’re a heck of a lot easier to park.
One drawback to owning a smaller vehicle has always been that their size and weight makes them inherently less safe than largest cars. But smaller cars have made great safety strides in recent years due to improvements in technology and vehicle design.
To determine which cars were the safest of the safe, we started out with a list of all the small cars and SUVs that received the Top Safety Pick Designation this year from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and removed any that were currently facing a recall. Then we gave extra credit to cars that received the Top Safety Pick Plus designation, which recognizes cars that not only protect occupants during a crash, but also have additional crash avoidance technology to help prevent collisions from happening in the first place.
We factored in safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Euro NCAP (a European body that conducts crash tests, similar to the NHTSA).Finally, we considered the Consumer Reports “predicted reliability” score as well as the personal injury insurance losses, calculated by the Highway Loss Data Institute.
The results: Small SUVs Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 topped the list, followed by the Mazda 3. Based on the data, however, any car on this list would provide above average protection to its occupants.
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