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Small SUV Roof Strength Test

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Old 03-26-09, 03:21 AM   #1
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Post Small SUV Roof Strength Test

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Only four of the dozen small S.U.V.’s evaluated in a new test to see how well their roofs held up in a rollover crash got “good” ratings, and some of the country’s most popular models did not fare well.

The new roof-strength test, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is far more demanding than the minimum standard set by the federal government. The tests show there is a striking difference in how well vehicles protect their occupants, said Adrian Lund, the president of the institute, which is financed by the insurance industry. “People are dying in rollover crashes, and our research shows they don’t have to be,” he said.

Among safety researchers, rollover crashes are a huge concern. About 2.5 percent of all the crashes each year involve rollovers, but they result in about 10,000 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency said, however, about two-thirds of those killed in rollovers are unbelted and are thrown from the vehicle.

For years, safety researchers have debated whether a stronger roof means a significantly safer vehicle. The agency has been skeptical.

In the last year the insurance institute has published two studies that show a strong connection between strong roofs and saving lives, contradicting some earlier studies by other researchers.

“We were aware of the earlier research, but we had some concerns about it because there were a lot of factors that we didn’t feel were well controlled,” Mr. Lund said.

The institute has been conducting front, side-impact and rear-impact crash tests for years. The roof test is new this year, and the small S.U.V.’s are the first vehicles tested. The institute uses a rating system of good, acceptable, marginal and poor.

The 2008 and 2009 models that got good ratings were the top-rated Volkswagen Tiguan, followed in descending order by the Subaru Forester, the Honda Element and the Jeep Patriot.

Those with an acceptable rating are the Suzuki Grand Vitara, followed by the Chevrolet Equinox (and Pontiac Torrent), the Toyota RAV4, the Nissan Rogue and the Mitsubishi Outlander.

The popular Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner/Mazda Tribute triplets and Honda’s CR-V got marginal ratings.

The worst-performing models were the Kia Sportage and its sibling the Hyundai Tucson, which got poor ratings.

Several automakers whose vehicles did not do well responded that crashes are complex events and one test of roof strength does not give a complete picture of a vehicle’s overall safety. They noted that their vehicles did well in some other institute tests and that electronic stability control has been proved to reduce loss-of-control accidents, which can lead to rollovers.

In the institute’s test, a metal plate pushes down against one side of the roof. It’s the same method used by the N.H.T.S.A. But the institute’s standards are far more demanding.

Under the agency standards, roofs must resist pressure equal to only 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight. But in the institute’s test, a roof must withstand a force that is four times the vehicle’s weight to get a good rating. At that point the roof may crush no more than five inches.

An acceptable rating requires the roof to withstand 3.25 times the vehicle’s weight. A marginal rating requires withstanding 2.5 times the vehicle’s weight. A poor rating is anything less than 2.5 times the vehicle’s weight.

Starting with 2010 models, the institute won’t issue its “Top Safety Pick” label to any vehicle that does not get a good rating in the roof-crush test. Currently, vehicles are required to have good ratings in frontal, side and rear-impact tests and offer electronic stability control as standard equipment.

The institute plans to test midsize cars next. Those results are expected this summer.
German build quality put to the test at 15,000lbs. Seems the Koreans still have a ways to go.

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Old 03-26-09, 05:09 AM   #2
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It's like 1997 again where "you get what you pay for" is exposed. Back then only 3 premium brand in the world (BMW Mercedes Lexus) pass the frontal safety crash. Hopefully this time it won't take the rest of the manufactures 10 years to catch up.
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Old 03-26-09, 06:52 AM   #3
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Wow! What glitters isn't always gold as depicted here.. There is always more to a vehicle than glossy paint.
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Old 03-26-09, 07:04 AM   #4
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Well, it's no secret that German and Sweedish vehicles, particularly Mercedes and Volvo, have traditionally had thicker sheet metal and stronger frames than American and Asian manufacturers, though, to some extent, Subaru has been an exception.

What this article fails to point out is that more widespread use of vehicle systems, particularly anti-roll stability systems like those in use on Volvo and some Ford SUVs, combined with common-sense driving, would help prevent many rollovers that now take place.

High-center-of gravity trucks, minivans, and SUV's are not sports cars, and they cannot be driven like one. Part of the problem, of course, is with manufacturer marketing and advertising.....some trucks and SUVs, like the Ford Lightning, Dodge SRT Ram, Chevy Silverado SS, HHR SS, Mercedes GL AMG, etc..... are promoted as hard-driving sports vehicles, when they are basically trucks or high-center-of-gravity car-based vehicles. That just invites trouble.

The Jeep Wrangler and some of the smaller Suzuki SUVs have long been prone to rollovers, for several reasons. One is the immature level of a number of their drivers. Two is that these vehicles are promoted for "active" lifestyles....which sometimes means carefree, careless driving. Three is that, unlike many other SUVs, a fairly large number of these vehicles actually DO go off-road. That, of course, increases the likelihood of them encountering too-steep grades and body-tip angles that could flip them over.
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Old 03-26-09, 07:07 AM   #5
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Interesting test. I was really hoping to see them flip the car upside down and drop it from like 10 or 20 feet though.

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Old 03-26-09, 07:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarshall View Post
Well, it's no secret that German and Sweedish vehicles, particularly Mercedes and Volvo, have traditionally had thicker sheet metal and stronger frames than American and Asian manufacturers, though, to some extent, Subaru has been an exception.

What this article fails to point out is that more widespread use of vehicle systems, particularly anti-roll stability systems like those in use on Volvo and some Ford SUVs, combined with common-sense driving, would help prevent many rollovers that now take place.

High-center-of gravity trucks, minivans, and SUV's are not sports cars, and they cannot be driven like one. Part of the problem, of course, is with manufacturer marketing and advertising.....some trucks and SUVs, like the Ford Lightning, Dodge SRT Ram, Chevy Silverado SS, HHR SS, Mercedes GL AMG, etc..... are promoted as hard-driving sports vehicles, when they are basically trucks or high-center-of-gravity car-based vehicles. That just invites trouble.

The Jeep Wrangler and some of the smaller Suzuki SUVs have long been prone to rollovers, for several reasons. One is the immature level of a number of their drivers. Two is that these vehicles are promoted for "active" lifestyles....which sometimes means carefree, careless driving. Three is that, unlike many other SUVs, a fairly large number of these vehicles actually DO go off-road. That, of course, increases the likelihood of them encountering too-steep grades and body-tip angles that could flip them over.
Not all suv's are rollover prone. The U.S Department of Transportation has required mandatory rollover risk sticker be placed in every suv sold in the states.. Guess what? Not every suv has this sticker.. The BMW X5/X3/X6, Porshe Cayenne and a few others do not have this sticker affixed. Reason being that they are not roll over risks.
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Old 03-26-09, 07:36 AM   #7
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Not all suv's are rollover prone. The U.S Department of Transportation has required mandatory rollover risk sticker be placed in every suv sold in the states.. Guess what? Not every suv has this sticker.. The BMW X5/X3/X6, Porshe Cayenne and a few others do not have this sticker affixed. Reason being that they are not roll over risks.
Yes, I'm aware of the sticker labelling...I've seen a number of them. What that sticker is, in effect, is simply a DOT-required rehash, for adults, of what most people learned (or SHOULD have learned) in simple grade-school science about the concept of a high center of gravity and how it affects stability.

BMW and Porsche SUVs are indeed somewhat more resistent to rollovers then many other SUVs, primarily because of their superb chasis engineering. I pointed out the X5's good chassis and steering in the review I did yesterday of the diesel version.
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Old 03-26-09, 08:26 AM   #8
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Old 03-26-09, 08:35 AM   #9
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IMHO this roof strength testing is good info for consumers, especially when applied to all SUV's because all SUV's are more prone (to varying degrees) than conventional sedans/coupes. With increased visibility given to this testing, most likely auto makers will respond positively behind the scenes, although some will make excuses publicly as usual (probably GM and Ford).

For active safety, vehicle skid control/stability control systems are a huge proven plus for SUV's.
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Old 03-26-09, 08:39 AM   #10
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For active safety, vehicle skid control is a huge proven plus for SUV's.
Definately. I feel much more stable in our 400h as compared to our 300. It can actually handle.
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Old 03-26-09, 10:34 AM   #11
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if you roll an SUV without someone else causing it, you're a TERRIBLE driver.
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Old 03-26-09, 10:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IS-SV View Post
IMHO this roof strength testing is good info for consumers, especially when applied to all SUV's because all SUV's are more prone (to varying degrees) than conventional sedans/coupes. With increased visibility given to this testing, most likely auto makers will respond positively behind the scenes, although some will make excuses publicly as usual (probably GM and Ford).
Yes, but the only concern I have about strengthening the roofs is that, to do it without spending a lot of money for expensive metal alloys, the roof and unibody structures will need more and heavier-grade metal than in the present frames. Adding more weight, up on the roof, in heavier-grade metal, could indeed strengthen the roof, but, in the meantime, it could raise the center of gravity and INCREASE the chances of a rollover to start with. That is one reason why SUV owners are cautioned to not add much weight on the roof by carrying things on the roof racks.

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For active safety, vehicle skid control/stability control systems are a huge proven plus for SUV's.
Yes, regular VSC systems help, but the Volvo-style Roll-Control System is far better. Regular VSCs simply correct for understeer/oversteer based on steering input and yaw angles, NOT body roll. It is the excessive body roll that causes the actual rollover, not simply understeer or oversteer.
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Old 03-26-09, 10:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
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if you roll an SUV without someone else causing it, you're a TERRIBLE driver.
I mentioned that to someone in my group and his response is "well sometimes you need to take emergency maneuvers" My response was "What's the point in taking an emergency maneuver if you're creating another emergency?

If I'm in a SUV and a deer runs onto the road, I'll hit the brakes but if Bambi doesn't move she's roadkill...
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Old 03-26-09, 11:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Yes, but the only concern I have about strengthening the roofs is that, to do it without spending a lot of money for expensive metal alloys, the roof and unibody structures will need more and heavier-grade metal than in the present frames. Adding more weight, up on the roof, in heavier-grade metal, could indeed strengthen the roof, but, in the meantime, it could raise the center of gravity and INCREASE the chances of a rollover to start with. That is one reason why SUV owners are cautioned to not add much weight on the roof by carrying things on the roof racks.



Yes, regular VSC systems help, but the Volvo-style Roll-Control System is far better. Regular VSCs simply correct for understeer/oversteer based on steering input and yaw angles, NOT body roll. It is the excessive body roll that causes the actual rollover, not simply understeer or oversteer.
1. Not a a big concern, high strength steel is used selectively in key areas already in all of the best cars, adding strength not weight. Fire departments are well aware of the use of these high strength metals in newer cars as they cut victims out of wreckages, which is another issue for them. Fortunately the engineering involved is not as casual as putting junk on a roof rack.

2. As I mentioned "active safety" feature, preventing loss of control with skid control systems is key. More lives are saved by this alone because it prevents the rollover to begin with. A rollover system supplements skid control, it does not replace it. Volvo's system has not been proven to be "far better" than the state of the art stability systems today. Most rollovers are caused by tripping on obstacles/curbs/etc. following loss of control. On flat surfaces good SUVs do not roll so much that they rollover no matter how hard they are cornered.
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Old 03-26-09, 11:06 AM   #15
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hahaha. you get what you pay for is right.

i wonder how a Tata Nano would do on a roll over.

that thing is more top heavy than any suv it looks like
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Old 03-26-09, 11:06 AM
 
 
 
 
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