Which is safer 2015 Toyota Prius or Chevy Suburban?
We don’t mean to pick on the Chevrolet Suburban. The Suburban is a fine vehicle, and with its new redesign offers more space than practically anything else on the road for those with big families. This is a story meant to challenge what we think of is safe, but instead of using theoretical physics (big vehicle always wins), let’s look at some cold hard facts supplied by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Driver Deaths per Million Vehicles
For about three decades, IIHS, NHTSA, and other agencies have been tallying up how many drivers die per million registered vehicles for each model in the US. The most recent report was released just this week. It covers the calendar years 2009-2012. The Prius model years 2010 and 2011 are covered in the report and the Chevy Suburban model years 2008-2011. During this period, drivers of Chevy Suburbans were about four times more likely to die in a crash than were Prius drivers. Surprised? How did we draw that conclusion?
The Prius has had 16 deaths per million registered vehicles. A registered vehicle is one vehicle registered for one year. The Prius is a top selling small 4-door car on the IIHS list. The Suburban is the biggest vehicle on the list. The Suburban’s driver deaths per million registered vehicles is 60. So now you assume we picked a ringer, a large SUV with an unusually high death rate. Nope. The Avalanche (29) has about twice the death rate of the Prius. The Ford Expedition 2WD (36) twice the Prius’ death rate. The mid-size Ford Edge (41) about triple the rate of deaths the Prius has. Just so you don’t think it is just SUVs that are so much more likely to have a driver die, let’s look at some large cars. The Buick LaCrosse (43), Toyota Avalon (37), and Chevy Impala (35) all have a much higher rate of driver fatalities. So does the Mazda6 (54). So you get the point. The Prius must be incredibly special. It is, but there are a couple of other small cars with surprisingly low driver deaths. For example, the Mini Cooper (21). This particular statistic looks at what actually happened. It is not a theory or a guess at what vehicle is safer. Will this information apply to the newer model Prius? Probably, since the Prius' safety rating in crash tests and its forward crash prevention systems have improved since the 2001 model year.
Prius and Suburban are Top Sellers
The Prius is a hugely popular vehicle. It is the single most popular car in many markets, including the US’ largest market, California. Suburbans also sell well, and in their class, the model is often the leading seller. That helps validate our conclusions because sometimes small sample sizes skew data. Of course, if the question is “would you rather be in a Prius or a Suburban in a crash” the answer is “it depends.” Am I hitting a stationary object? I’d pick Prius. Am I going into a ditch and going to rollover? I’d pick Prius. Am I going to hit another car head on? I’d pick Suburban. There is a lot to consider. Hopefully, this story got you thinking. Yes, in a head to head crash the bigger vehicle is usually safer, but that is only one type of crash.
If you are looking for a vehicle that is even safer than the Prius you might consider the Subaru Legacy, Lexus RX350, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Sequoia, or one of the other nine vehicles that had zero driver deaths over that period of time. You can view the complete list at the IIHS site.
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