While small cars may be back in vogue, according to the latest crash test results they do not provide you with the same protection as sport utility vehicles (SUVs) or pick up trucks. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), only one of the eight models tested, the Nissan Versa, received high marks in both side and rear crash tests. Three of the other models, the Toyota Yaris, the Honda Fit and the BMW Mini Cooper, scored well in side tests but received low ratings in rear tests.
Experts caution that even the safest subcompact car cannot overcome its inherent size and weight disadvantage. On average, subcompacts weigh 4,000 pounds less than midsize SUVs like the Ford Explorer. “People traveling in small, light cars are at a disadvantage, especially when they collide with bigger, heavier vehicles. The laws of physics dictate this,” says Institute president Adrian Lund.