Small Cars Break Easily, Except For Nissan Versa

Subcompacts save gas but they may not save your ass in a crash. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reviewed eight small cars and only the Nissan Versa received a high score in front, rear, and side impacts.

“From a safety standpoint, mini cars are not the best choice,” says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety president, Adrian Lund. “You wouldn’t put a featherweight in a boxing ring with a heavyweight.” — BEN POPKEN

Small Cars Come Up Short in Crash-Test Safety Study [NYT]


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  1. Pelagius says:

    There’s a reason they’re called K.I.A.

  2. wilvelas says:

    They need to smash them into a S series Mercedes (like that SMART video) and see how they stack up! That would be fun to watch.

  3. JT says:

    Lets adjust ticketing structure and speed limits to match Mathematic facts.


    Larger vehicles that have potential to do greater damage at the same speed of a smaller vehicle (with less mass) would have to go slower.

    Instead of speed limits, lets have force limits.

    If you want to go faster, get a smaller vehicle. If you want to drive a tank down the road for your safety, do so with out putting everyone else at greater risk.

    Now what would that do to insurance rates?

  4. kweee says:

    I drive a MINI Cooper and have been rear-ended in it, and it was the SUV behind me that took all the big damage. So if it scored Marginally for rear, I like my chances on the other sides.

  5. Well, I believe Germany scales traffic tickets to match your income, so Tycho’s suggestion is entirely plausible, and I would vote for it.

  6. Retiree says:

    Interesting how the side curtain airbags went of in the frontal impact for the red car on the bottom. That’ll drive up the repair costs.

  7. pestie says:

    I’m in favor of anything that involves smashing more Scion xB’s. Ugliest. Vehicle. EVAR.

  8. Ben Popken says:

    Kwee, perhaps the SUV had a bad front crash rating…?

  9. AskCars says:

    rear crash test results usually have to do with head and neck injuries due to “whiplash,” not the amount of damage actually done to the car. Sorry for the boring comment.

  10. Sudonum says:

    Crayonshinobi, It is a lot more expensive to obtain a drivers license in any European country, as well as tougher testing. I would love to go that route here in the good ole USA but then you’d have the Jessie Jacksons of the world complaining that its unfair to the poor. Oh, and there would be no speed limits on the interstates as well!

  11. LintMan says:

    Kwee, as David Thomas says, the crash rating is purely about passenger safety and not at all about damage-resistance. That’s what crumple zones, etc are all about – they absorb the brunt of the damage to help reduce the blow to the passenger area.

    Also, if the SUV that hit you was slamming the brakes, it may have been pitched forward so its bumper could have been below yours so its relatively soft radiator area would smash into your relatively hard bumper and take far more damage than your bumper would. This happened to my wife’s minivan when she skidded on an oil patch into the smallish car in front of her. Minivan damage: $13K Other car damage: $1K

  12. MrVent says:

    I agree… It is all about the safety of the driver and passenger… Though the quality of an car part and safety of the car in total is directly proportional to the life saving safety system of a vehicle…

  13. 40mpgYaris says:

    @Retiree: The red car looks like the Versa. So it gets top safety ratings, but must cost a fortune to repair. Then again I’d rather scrap the car than scrap myself.

  14. military_guy says:

    Bought a Versa. Love the car. CVT transmission and full of features for the money. Nissan doesn’t play well with others about discounts though. No military discount. I just finished a Masters degree and they said they would not honor their policy about a discount for a new degree because I did mine online. (yes online, but accredited through the Western Association of Colleges and Schools— Military here you know)
    I bought anyway, although almost every other dealer is offering it. I couldn’t stand there and complain about not getting something for free just because I’m in the military. That’s not why we do what we do…