Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute Siblings Receive Good Side Impact Rating Too

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “What matters most in life?” If youve just survived a motor vehicle accident the answer might simply be life itself.

Of course, most of us havent had our priorities shaken up so dramatically. When buying a new car, rather than opting for ABS brakes and side impact airbags, if not already standard or for that matter even offered, we just cant live without that fancy wheel and tire upgrade or awesome sounding premium audio system. While such features can enhance the quality of life, it might be wise to spend your money on the very components that could save your life.

Of the myriad of compact sport utility vehicles currently on the market, only three have been given a good side impact rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. While many would expect Toyota and Honda nameplates to be among the three in question, the safest compact SUVs for side crashes are the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute siblings (with one important caveat), plus the Subaru Forester.

What makes them so special? Side impact airbags, standard on the Subaru and optional on the Ford and Mazda SUVs (the caveat), make all the difference. Proof of this is that Escape and Tribute sport utes with no side airbags were given a poor rating in IIHS side impact testing.

The IIHS grades new vehicles with good, adequate, marginal and poor scores for frontal impact, side impact, head restraint and bumpers. So with that in mind, how did the others fare?

Of note, the Hyundai Santa Fe with side airbags was the best of the rest with an adequate rating, much higher than the marginal (M) or poor (P) rated Chevrolet Tracker (P), Jeep Wrangler (M), Honda CR-V(M) and Element (P), Mitsubishi Outlander (P), Saturn VUE (P), Suzuki Vitara/Grand Vitara (P), and Toyota RAV4 (P). Even the expensive Land Rover Freelander received a poor side impact rating, not what buyers in its price range expect.

To be fair, some of the vehicles tested could have received higher marks if their optional side impact airbags were tested. The IIHS tests vehicles with standard equipment only, but gives the opportunity for side or curtain airbag equipped vehicles to undergo testing if the respective automaker foots the bill. Ford Motor chose to pay for the Escape and Tribute to get tested, while Saturn, Honda and Mitsubishi did not.
After all was said and done the Subaru Forester deserves special attention for achieving good results in all tests; frontal impact, side impact, head restraints and bumpers – the only model to do so.