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Insurance Industry: Small Cars = Small Protection


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Good gas mileage is nice but is it worth the risk to you and your family? With all the horrible/drunk drivers on the road, you can be side swiped at anytime. This report would scare the hell out of me if I drove a "micro" car.

WASHINGTON — Micro cars can give motorists top-notch fuel efficiency at a competitive price, but the insurance industry says they do not fare well in collisions with larger vehicles.

In crash tests released Tuesday, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers of 2009 versions of the Smart "fortwo," Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris could face significant leg and head injuries in severe front-end crashes with larger, mid-size vehicles.

"There are good reasons people buy mini cars. They're more affordable, and they use less gas. But the safety trade-offs are clear from our new tests," said Adrian Lund, the institute's president.

Automakers who manufacture the small cars said the tests simulated a high-speed crash that rarely happens on the road. They also said the tests rehashed past insurance industry arguments against tougher fuel efficiency requirements. The institute has raised questions about whether stricter gas mileage rules, which are being developed by the government, might lead to smaller, lighter vehicles that could be less safe.

"If you were to take that argument to the nth degree, we should all be driving 18-wheelers. And the trend in society today is just the opposite," said Dave Schembri, president of Smart USA.

Sales of small cars soared when gas prices topped $4 per gallon ($1.05 per liter) last year but have fallen off as gasoline has retreated to about $2 a gallon ($0.53 per liter) and the economic downturn has slowed car sales. The small cars are affordable — prices of the three cars tested range from about $12,000 to $18,000 — and typically achieve 30 miles per gallon (13 kilometers per liter) or more.

The tests involved head-on crashes between the fortwo and a 2009 Mercedes C Class, the Fit and a 2009 Honda Accord and the Yaris and the 2009 Toyota Camry. The tests were conducted at 40 miles per hour (17 kilometers per liter), representing a severe crash.

In the fortwo collision, the institute said the Smart, which weighs 1,808 lbs, went airborne and turned around 450 degrees after striking the C Class, which weighs nearly twice as much. There was extensive damage to the fortwo's interior and the Smart driver could have faced extensive injuries to the head and legs. There was little damage to the front seat area of the C Class.

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I understand the case against the Smart car. I don't get how people feel safe in those AT ALL.

But the Honda Fit has a 5 star crash test rating almost across the board. Its larger than your regular 4-door sedan. I think the rear passenger side rating was a 3 star, but that is about it. It has front, side and overhead airbags. By this logic (that hatchbacks like the Honda Fit are not safe), then no one should drive anything but a truck/suv.

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I agree,words to live by;)

As an owner of a Honda Fit hatchback I had a funny conversation with a friend of mine recently.

We were walking towards his car in a parking lot one day last week. We start talking about my new (used) car and I told him I got a Honda Fit hatchback he kind of gave me this weird look. He drives a Ford SUV. He was giving me a hard time for not buying an American car (union guy), and I said I would have been happy to but no US manufacturer makes a good hatchback right now.

Him: Well that is because Hatchbacks are for *******

Me: Okay macho man…

(we get into his car)

Me: Hey, is this an automatic?

Him: Yea, of course, don’t know how to drive a manual. Do you?

Me: Of course, I am not a *****. (I then ridiculed him for 20 mins about how he called me a ***** over a having a hatchback but can’t even drive a manual.)

If you are not driving a manual car, you might as well be a 16 year old girl IMO. I find it hilarious how many big hard dudes drive SUVs and Pick-Ups and don’t even drive the car properly and instead have an automatic.

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