Jan. 30, 2013 at 3:59 PM ET
There was once an old adage in the auto industry, “safety doesn’t sell.” Don’t try to convince today’s motorists. Safety has, in fact, become one of the highest-ranked attributes for most car shoppers, whether they’re looking for a minivan or sports car.
So, a new study by Insure.com is likely to deliver more than a few surprises when it comes to listing the safest and least safe among 750 different vehicles now on the market. Some of the results might seem intuitive, especially to those who equate size with safety. The pint-sized Fiat 500 is the least-safe vehicle on the list, according to the study which was produced by Insure.com in cooperation with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. On the other hand, the GMC Sierra 1500 pickup was the top-ranked model.
"If safety is a priority, you should avoid the smallest cars," said IIHS spokesman Russ Rader. "Weight counts. Smaller, lighter cars are safer than they used to be, but all things being equal, people riding in bigger, heavier vehicles get more protection in crashes."
But there are also some surprises. While big GMC models took four of the five “safest” slots, the four-door Porsche Cayenne ranked second. On the other hand, the Mercedes-Benz passenger car flagship, the premium CL 500 coupe was fifth on the list of least-safe vehicles.
From a brand standpoint, General Motors scored particularly well – as noted, the GMC brand landing four of the top five slots. Along with Mercedes, Toyota also landed in the bottom five, the Insure.com study having little positive to say about the Japanese maker’s Corolla model. In other words, being a best-seller in your segment doesn’t always guarantee buyers will get the best in terms of safety.
The study might generate some controversy as there a variety of ways to measure safety. Take the Fiat 500 which has actually generated very good scores in IIHS crash tests with its integrated safety cage and airbags.
But, "The laws of physics are always in play in crashes," explained Rader. "Weight counts. Smaller, lighter cars are safer than they used to be, but all things being equal, people riding in bigger, heavier vehicles get more protection in crashes."
The Insure.com study relied on an analysis of Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payment records which, the researchers suggest, gives a view of how passengers, rather than crash dummies, make out in the real world.
Here are the best and worst of the bunch. To find out even more about how the rest of the current automotive line-up fared, Click Here.
Five Safest Vehicles:
Five Least Safe Vehicles: