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? asked in Cars & TransportationBuying & Selling · 1 decade ago

What is safer to drive - a mini-van or an SUV?

I was recently in a car accident with a Honda civic. I want my next vehicle to be safe for my family. I am torn between an SUV and a mini-van.

13 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A typical minivan is safer than a typical SUV for several reasons. First of all, a minivan is built on a car-like platform, which allows for introducing proper crumple zones, reinforcement of the passenger space, and lower center of gravity (think "lower rollover probability"). Minivans can be better controlled on the road, which is also helpful in avoiding crashes. Also, minivans have to satisfy the same crash test requirements as regular cars. Many SUVs, on the other hand, are classified as trucks, and because of that they fall under more relaxed standards. Body-on-frame SUVs (most large SUVs have frames) also suffer in regard to safety, because the underlying frame cannot be built to absorb the force of the impact as well as a specially designed crumple zone of a car or a minivan.

    After reading the above, you may have noticed that I tend to compare cars and minivans in a positive way. There is a reason for that. To understand it, let’s break down the total vehicle safety into several parts and try to decide what type of vehicle provides a better answer.

    First, we want to avoid crashes as much as possible. What would be helpful for that? An incomplete list would include good maneuverability, good braking ability, ABS system, stability control, high quality tires. A good car or a car-like vehicle (from here on I’ll group minivans with cars because of similar underlying design) wins here outright: a car can turn better than an SUV, it brakes better than an SUV, there are more cars with ABS brakes and stability control than SUVs.

    Well, let’s assume a crash is inevitable. What is going to help you when it happens? Passive safety comes into play: crumple zones, bumper design, passenger space reinforcement, airbags. The engineers who build cars and minivans, have more flexibility, and they can build in more safety features than in case of a typical truck-based SUV.

    OK, you may ask, but what about the common sense knowledge that a bigger vehicle is always safer? My answer is: true, but it is only important, if you get into an accident with another vehicle. This is simple physics: if two objects collide, the impulses of these two objects will be redistributed unevenly if the objects have different masses. The bigger your car is, the better it is for you, so in a crash between a Miata and a Suburban, the driver of the Suburban will walk away (and I hope his sleep won’t be disrupted by the memories of mangled bodies in the Miata). However, you do not gain additional safety because your vehicle is an SUV, you gain it because it has more mass.

    Now, we can summarize and determine, what kind of vehicle would be the safest one. You want a vehicle that drives like a sports car, has well-designed body structure, and is as heavy as possible. And the closest match? Of course, a large luxury car. They drive great, have great brakes, the most advanced electronics, more airbags than other cars, and they are heavy. Unfortunately, most people can’t afford a Lexus LS or a BMW 7-series. So, the prudent thing is to get away from considering a whole type of vehicles, and look at specific models, trying to find the one that stands out in regard to its safety features. For example, it is known that the Odyssey can go through slalom faster than a Grand Caravan, and that its braking distance is shorter. You can conclude that you would have a lesser chance of getting into an accident if you drive the Honda. But if you do get into an accident, your chances of survival are probably almost the same, since both minivans have similar crash ratings and passive safety features.

    Here’s some statistics that support my point of view (keep in mind that it discusses older model years):

    There, you will see that the large luxury cars are the safest group, that large minivans are very close to luxury cars, and that no SUV group can approach those numbers. At the same time, specific models can be stand out within their group, both to the better and to the worse. For example, Toyota 4Runner has extremely low death rates, while Dodge Caravan is much worse than any other minivan.

    Sites to visit:

  • 4 years ago


    Source(s): Learn Personal Defence
  • 5 years ago

    Suv Vs Van

  • Mirza
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    For the best answers, search on this site

    People drive mini vans because they have 2 kids and one on the way. The car they used to drive was great for mom dad and 2 kids but it just wouldnt be safe for a family of 5. Then they say hey, we need and SUV. Then they find out the car they want to trade in isnt worth jack and that an SUV is just too darn expensive. Then they wonder for days and days about what to do. At some point 3 weeks down the road, they realize, even though it is not cool at all, their only affordable option is a mini van. Thats why they drive em. Not because they want to, because they have to. people that think vans are cool, drive huge vans with shag carpet and disco balls. NOT MINI-VANS

  • 1 decade ago

    All things being equal, the more mass you have around you, the better you fare in most multi-car accidents. So many SUVs, at least the mid- and full-sized ones based on truck chassis, are safer to crash then lighter, car-based mini-vans. That said, their center of gravity is higher, and their driving dynamics much worse, so they are also more LIKELY to crash (especially rolling over) then cars or mini-vans. Personally, I believe the best "safety features" are those that allow you to nimbly avoid having an accident in the first place. So I would take the Honda Civic over any mini-van or SUV in a heartbeat. Of course, I’ve been driving for 30 years in half a dozen different small Hondas, and never had an accident in any of them. Avoided quite a few, though.

    So, to summarize, we have --

    In order of avoiding accidents, cars are best (the smaller & lighter, the more nimble), mini-vans next, SUVs last

    In order of surviving them, tanks are first, semis next, SUVs, then mini-vans, and finally the lowly small cars.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    From the linked article:

    "The worst minivan is safer than the best SUV. Clearly anyone who buys an SUV with the goal of providing safer transportation for their families has made a serious mistake."

    That pretty much says it all, doesn't it. :)

    For years I've read articles that point to studies that agree with this conclusion. I personally wouldn't be caught dead in a minivan (not literally), and I'm not all that fond of SUVs even though I owned an excellent Nissan Pathfinder for a while.

    I suggest you take a look at this page, too, which lists the safest family cars. It should help you make up your mind:

    I hope this helps!!

  • 4 years ago

    Safest Family Suv

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I am a great fan of wrapping yourself in more sheetmetal for safety. I drive the Honda minivan because it is very well thought out, drives like a car, not a truck and is not so prone to rollover-type accidents as an SUV. It is very sure footed and adaptable to many uses.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It might seem like an SUV is safer, but because they are higher off the ground, they are much easier to roll. Roll-over accidents have a much higher fatality rate than other accidents.

  • ?
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    mini vans are safer

    are you kidding me

    suvs are death traps.

    ive almost flipped an suv just taking a corner to tight

    seriously go with the minivan they are tanks. and have better crash test ratings

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