June 16, 2024

Are Large SUVs Not as Safe as Perceived?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just unveiled recent crash test outcomes for three full-size, three-row SUVs — the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Jeep Wagoneer — and these family vehicles exhibited diverse crash test performances. Full-size SUVs are favored options because of their size and the perceived safety that size brings, yet size alone does not always equate to safety in practice. The IIHS disclosed that the Expedition performed worse than 90 percent of all new vehicles in the small overlap crash tests, as evidenced in the video.

In the recent round of crash tests, the 2023-2024 Ford Expedition ranked the lowest among the three SUVs analyzed by the IIHS, particularly performing poorly in the small overlap crash tests. The video illustrates the A-pillar detaching from the vehicle, leaving the occupant vulnerable, a scenario observed on both the driver’s and passenger’s side. This led to the Expedition receiving the IIHS’ second-lowest Marginal rating for both driver and passenger side small overlap crashworthiness. Despite this, the Expedition demonstrated better performance in other assessments, notably pedestrian avoidance.

Large SUVs struggle in IIHS tests – IIHS News

The 2023-2024 Chevrolet Tahoe exhibited slightly better performance than the Expedition in certain tests, securing the IIHS’ second-highest Acceptable rating in the small overlap test, despite the video appearing less dramatic than the Expedition’s. The Tahoe garnered the poorest rating of Poor for its headlight performance, a critical aspect of nighttime road safety. Furthermore, its pedestrian collision avoidance technology failed nighttime tests dramatically, causing the child-sized dummy to be propelled and resulting in the Tahoe receiving a Marginal rating in the test. It also received a Poor rating for the updated moderate overlap test concentrating on the safety of rear-seat occupants, with the dummy indicating a high risk of head or neck injuries and chest injuries.

The 2023-2024 Jeep Wagoneer achieved the best performance among these three large SUVs, earning a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS. It excelled in the small overlap crash test, obtaining the highest Good rating, and boasted the best-performing headlights. Despite this, the Wagoneer did not sufficiently protect rear seat occupants to secure a Top Safety Pick+ rating.

Prior to assuming a vehicle’s safety solely based on its size, it is advisable to review its IIHS crash test ratings to ensure alignment with your safety priorities. While heavier vehicles exhibit better performance in collisions with lighter vehicles, the real-world presents numerous potential crash scenarios, underscoring the importance of considering the complete picture of vehicle safety.

When questioned regarding their vehicles’ performance in the latest IIHS crash test, a Ford representative remarked, “The 2023 and 2024 Expedition… is the only vehicle in the segment to achieve a five-star overall vehicle score in NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). Designing SUVs in Expedition’s weight category to perform better in the small overlap rigid barrier test could potentially increase injury to occupants in lighter-weight vehicles involved in a crash.”

A General Motors spokesperson conveyed confidence in the safety of the Chevrolet Tahoe, which attained a 4-star safety overall rating from NHTSA’s comprehensive New Car Assessment Program. The company values consumer metric ratings from IIHS and intends to incorporate these latest findings into new vehicle designs. Jeep issued a press release celebrating the Wagoneer’s Top Safety Pick achievement, expressing pride in the efforts of its engineers. The Wagoneer’s performance in these crash tests demonstrates that building a safe large SUV is achievable, but there is always room for enhancement, even for Jeep.


1. Are full-size SUVs always safer in crashes?

No, while full-size SUVs may offer a sense of safety due to their size, it does not guarantee better crash performance. It is essential to consider crash test ratings and other safety features.

2. How can I find out the safety ratings of a specific vehicle?

You can visit the IIHS website or check with the manufacturer for the latest crash test ratings and safety information.


Size is not the sole determining factor of a vehicle’s safety in crashes. The recent IIHS crash test results for the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Jeep Wagoneer emphasize the importance of considering comprehensive safety assessments before assuming a vehicle’s safety solely based on its size. Each vehicle exhibited varied performance in different tests, highlighting the need for consumers to prioritize safety features and crash test ratings when selecting a family vehicle.

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