Adapted by Victoria Vickers from IIHS
Minicars appeal to consumers for their fuel economy, despite their known safety deficiencies. All other things being equal, bigger, heavier vehicles are safer than smaller, lighter ones.
"Despite the safety trade-off, more consumers are buying minicars," said Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) President Adrian Lund. "That's why we tested them."
"We want consumers to use the ratings to choose the most crashworthy designs among the smallest cars. You don't have to buy the smallest, lightest car to get one that's easy on fuel consumption. Models including the Subaru Impreza and Honda Civic are bigger than the minicars we tested and they weigh more, so we would expect better occupant protection in serious crashes. At the same time, these and other small car models get nearly as good fuel economy as minicars."
Although risk of injury is generally higher in minicars than in bigger vehicles, size and weight don't tell the whole story. Some minicar models have more crashworthy designs than others. In its minicar crash tests, IIHS rated 2008 model vehicles. The rank order takes into account all three crash ratings (front, side and rear).
Miles per gallon: minicars versus small cars