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Small or Minicar Equals Death Trap or Gas Savings?

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Honda, Smart, Toyota, Video

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Small or Minicar Equals Death Trap or Gas Savings? How about both. Recent frontal crash tests of Minicars made by Toyota, Honda and Daimler AG performed poorly. The test was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Smart ForTwo collapsed in the impact of the test conducted. The test consisted of a frontal off-set crash head-on into one of the car makes sister mid-sized cars at about 40 miles per hour. Even with the protection of the airbags the study reviled a considerable amount of injuries to the head and legs of occupants in the smaller car.

Even though you save on gas money you may ultimately put yourself at a greater risk for injury in this type of crash. Spokes persons and management of all three automakers explained that this is a very rare occurrence of an accident in the real world only accounting for less than 1% of crashes. Some may beg to differ with the stats and argue the case that size matters.

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Size does matter. It is rather obvious when you put the laws of physics in play especially (God forbid) matching one of these small cars up against a big SUV in an accident.

The 2009 Toyota Yaris gets fuel economy of 29 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway and meets all safety standards and regulations.

The 2009 Honda Fit gets 28 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway and meets all safety standards and regulations.

The Smart ForTwo gets 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway and also meets all safety standards and regulations.

So whats the big idea? I will show you by allowing you to watch the video below.

Three front-to-front crash tests, each involving a microcar or minicar into a midsize model from the same manufacturer, show how extra vehicle size and weight enhance occupant protection in collisions. These Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests are about the physics of car crashes, which dictate that very small cars generally can’t protect people in crashes as well as bigger, heavier models.

“There are good reasons people buy minicars,” says Institute president Adrian Lund. “They’re more affordable, and they use less gas. But the safety trade-offs are clear from our new tests. Equally clear are the implications when it comes to fuel economy. If automakers downsize cars so their fleets use less fuel, occupant safety will be compromised. However, there are ways to serve fuel economy and safety at the same time.”

The Institute didn’t choose SUVs or pickup trucks, or even large cars, to pair with the micro and minis in the new crash tests. The choice of midsize cars reveals how much influence some extra size and weight can have on crash outcomes. The Institute chose pairs of 2009 models from Daimler, Honda, and Toyota because these automakers have micro and mini models that earn good frontal crashworthiness ratings, based on the Institute’s offset test into a deformable barrier. Researchers rated performance in the 40 mph car-to-car tests, like the front-into-barrier tests, based on measured intrusion into the occupant compartment, forces recorded on the driver dummy, and movement of the dummy during the impact.

Laws of physics prevail: The Honda Fit, Smart Fortwo, and Toyota Yaris are good performers in the Institute’s frontal offset barrier test, but all three are poor performers in the frontal collisions with midsize cars. These results reflect the laws of the physical universe, specifically principles related to force and distance.

Produced for IIHS

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