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Old 09-18-2012, 01:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Safest, Most Fuel Efficient Cars

What are the top safest, most fuel efficient cars?

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Old 09-18-2012, 08:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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This is a question that kind of pushes my buttons so excuse the rant, but why would you even ask this? Cars today are safer than EVER before. They're safer than 10 years ago. There don't seem to be any unsafe cars sold today. Even the Smart For-Two has IIHS ratings of "good" across the board (its highest rating). Plus, if you're paying attention to how you drive to get better mileage you're better off than just about all the other drivers out there.
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Old 09-18-2012, 08:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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i agree with Daox, sorta. but really the only way to "grade" them is to assign a value to each car and take the top scores. BUT, afaik, they only go up to 5 stars in safety and ive never seen a car in the last 5 years get less than a 4.

*As of 2011 the rating system has been revamped and are not comparable to earlier ratings. 2011+ ratings have a much higher baseline allowing for better resolution, still not as good as a 1-10 rating though.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:07 AM   #4 (permalink)
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What kind of safety are you looking for?
Do you want a vehicle that when you hit a brick wall or anything else you destroy whatever that is and drive away unharmed? or do you want a vehicle that you are less likely to get in an accident in the first place while driving?
About ten years back I read about a study that listed a number of vehicles that had the highest number of deaths per 10,000 vehicles on the road and the vehicles that had the lowest number of deaths, these included hitting pedestrians, single vehicle accidents, anything where someone was killed because of a vehicle and it showed a trend of larger vehicles killing more people then smaller vehicles, I would really like to find more studies like that but as of yet I have not had any luck.

Forbes also published a list of the 20 safest compact cars that are under $20,000 Chevrolet Cruze - Jim Gorzelany - Forbes and I was quite impressed with what is on there, another vehicle that is no on there is the Chevy Volt, it's not under $20,000 but if you are looking at a new vehicle you can get a 3 year lease for $200 per month! and the option to buy at the end of that is pretty reasonable as well, mostly because the leasing company takes the $7,500 tax credit (not everyone makes enough money to owe $7,500 in taxes) and they I'm sure are getting other brakes as well, so it's almost cheaper to go that route and you get a plug in car hybrid that is based off the Chevy Cruze, both vehicles have great safety ratings but from a car payment point of view and a over all cost of ownership point of view, the volt is a cheap new car to own.
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Old 09-18-2012, 11:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I wonder if there is an implicit question being asked -- how can "light" fuel efficient cars be as safe as heavier less fuel efficient cars?

The irony is that many/most of the heavy SUV's that get such horrible fuel mileage are also much less safe either because they are not required to have the same crash tests as "cars", or because they have very high Cg (center of gravity), and/or they take longer to slow/stop *because* they are heavier. The commonly held myth is that it is the weight of a vehicle that makes it safe. If that was true, then why not just make them out of lead or concrete?

The fact is that it is good engineering that makes a vehicle safe, and that in a majority of types of crashes -- higher weight is a huge liability. The only type of crash that being heavier gives an "advantage" is in a head on crash, and only then if the heavier car is well engineered. In *all* other two vehicle crashes and *all one* vehicle crashes, being in a lighter vehicle is a big advantage. A single vehicle that hits some sort of external object like a tree or a bridge abutment has a given amount of kinetic energy that it has to absorb -- that is *directly* proportional to the weight of the vehicle. Weight x speed = kinetic energy = amount of energy to be absorbed by the vehicle.

Another misunderstanding seems to be based on how to judge safety -- it is not the amount of damage inflicted on the other vehicle; but rather the maximum forces exerted on the occupants. So, a vehicle that "shows" more damage is more likely to have protected the occupants better. Older cars are much less safe because they transmit more energy through to the occupants; instead of absorbing it.

For at least a couple of years now, the safest cars have been small to mid-sized sedans, like the Audi A4 and the Honda Accord, etc. They are well designed and have big enough crumple zones to protect the occupants, and they are not too heavy as to hurt their braking and accident avoidance handling.

Also, cars with better aerodynamics (i.e. lower and smaller) will have better handling, by definition. And smaller lighter vehicles will have better braking, too, all else being equal.

A neglected concept in vehicle safety (that I learned about from the folks at Edison2) is deflection; which is the opposite of engagement. Most vehicles today "engage" with whatever they hit in an accident, and the major problem with this is it shortens the time it takes to absorb the kinetic energy; making the peak forces on the people much greater. If a vehicle deflects away from the point of impact, then there is a much longer time to absorb the kinetic energy, and this tends to make the peak forces on the people much lower.

So, all in all, I would much rather be driving a lighter and well engineered car -- both for safety and for fuel efficiency.
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Old 09-18-2012, 01:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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You also have to consider, as Ryland started to point out, that highway safety is a collective thing. Indeed, I'd guess that for most of us here (being that we are better than average drivers), our safety depends much less on what we choose to drive, than on what the guy that hits us is driving. That is to say, whatever I'm driving, my chances are a lot better if the other guy is driving a Smart rather than a Suburban.
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Old 09-18-2012, 01:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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What really bothers me is the SUV loop hole, sport vehicles have looser safety standards because they were first thought of as being a 2nd vehicle that is used less and is used for leisure and like motorcycles, people who want sport vehicles are willing to give up a bit of safety for a vehicle that is more fun, I'm not sure how sport vehicles are classified now but years back when I was reading up on vehicle design requirements it was an interesting category, same with Utility Vehicles, utility vehicles have their very own set of loop holes because they are a branch of trucks and vans that need to be able to be used for work, they also need to be able to haul large amounts of cargo, thus the MPG standards for them are looser, they also have much looser safety standards to allow the design to remain flexible, like more flexible bumper hight standards, lower rollover standards and a more ridged frame with less crumple zone, because if you want to put something like a snow plow on your utility vehicle you want the front end to be ridged!

Smaller vehicles also seem to be able to be more ridged because shorter spans of metal are stiffer then long spans, so that allows vehicle makers to make a "safety cage" around the occupants with crumple zone around it.
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Old 09-18-2012, 03:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilBlanchard View Post
A neglected concept in vehicle safety (that I learned about from the folks at Edison2) is deflection; which is the opposite of engagement. Most vehicles today "engage" with whatever they hit in an accident, and the major problem with this is it shortens the time it takes to absorb the kinetic energy; making the peak forces on the people much greater. If a vehicle deflects away from the point of impact, then there is a much longer time to absorb the kinetic energy, and this tends to make the peak forces on the people much lower.
This is why Aerocivic/deer collisions cause very little damage to my car. The low sloped front deflects the collision energies upwards with the deer passing over the top of my vehicle rather than being absorbed into the flat front bumper typical of most cars, causing lots of $ damage and a dead deer. A fringe effect of the low sloped front with the flat radiator buried deep inside the nose is it also efficiently deflects oncoming radar waves upward, producing a very weak return echo to a ground based receiver in front of the car.

Also when having the dead stick an aircraft onto the ground, the survivable crashes are those where the aircraft approaches the ground at a shallow angle. Steep and right angle crashes are invariably fatal.
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Old 09-18-2012, 04:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryland View Post
About ten years back I read about a study that listed a number of vehicles that had the highest number of deaths per 10,000 vehicles on the road and the vehicles that had the lowest number of deaths
Just look at the poor pickup drivers and who they may crash into:


Study: An Analysis of Traffic Deaths by Vehicle Type and Model (PDF)
From the abstract: Two risks are evaluated: the risk to the driver of the vehicle model in question in all types of crashes and the risk to the drivers of other vehicles involved in crashes with the model in question.
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Old 09-18-2012, 04:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronMartinSole View Post
What are the top safest, most fuel efficient cars?
Greyhound busses have to be at or near the top.

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