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One of the most common concerns of first-time car buyers is safety—how it can withstand car crashes. Can size affect its toughness? Is a heavier car better if you’re concerned about safety? What are the pros and cons of heavier cars?
Now, heavier cars come with other benefits or limitations, depending on your preferences. Therefore, you should carefully consider if a heavy car is right for you.
In this article, we broke down the pros and cons of heavier cars like SUVs and pickup trucks.
Pros of Heavier Cars
Car manufacturers always try to improve safety in vehicles, regardless of size or type. That means you can be safe in smaller, more compact cars. Nevertheless, when discussing the pros and cons of heavier cars, it’s a fact that the former is higher in number.
Here are some of them:
1. You will receive less impact in a head-on collision.
When two vehicles with varying sizes crash against each other, the smaller one will always receive a greater impact. This is because the bigger the size of the object, the more force it also has.
More factors come into play, such as the speed and friction of the road’s surface—but the object’s size plays a crucial role.
In a collision, the larger object will transfer its energy to whatever it will hit. Therefore, the vehicle or the person will absorb the energy and get a more damaging impact.
This is simple physics—an object with a heavier mass that accelerates at a given speed will also have more force.
2. More protection in a frontal crash.
Most bigger, heavier vehicles, like most SUVs, pickup trucks, and crossovers, have longer distances between the occupants and its front bumper.
That means it will either take a bigger force or a longer duration before the occupants get injured if something hits them at the front.
The more spacious the compartment in an SUV or a truck, the more protection you will have. This is one important aspect to consider when you’re weighing the pros and cons of heavier cars.
If you don’t have a heavy car, you can still upgrade your ride with this Collision Wrap by ArmorDillo. Besides being lightweight and easy to apply, it’s also tear- and puncture-resistant. You may also want to get a Heads Up Display (HUD) like Lufi XF Revolution OBD2, so you can easily see warnings like high temperature and low voltage, or reminders like gear shift or engine warmup.
3. People or drivers in smaller cars are more likely to be injured.
Compared to people in smaller or more compact cars, a crash is less likely to injure you in a heavier car.
A study of crash types found that the mass of the vehicle is a major factor.
In their analysis, they observed that the drivers of smaller cars received worse injuries— whether they were involved in a head-on collision or they crashed into an object.
Meanwhile, the drivers or the passengers of the massive cars had comparatively better conditions after the crash.
4. There’s more wiggle room in case of a crash.
Another crucial part of considering the pros and cons of heavier cars is space. The heavier and bigger the car, the more room for you to move in case of a rollover or a crash.
In a crash, there’s plenty of possibilities that you might hit the car’s interior. Now, in a vehicle that’s spacious, those possibilities will lessen.
That’s because in a larger SUV, for instance, the crumple zone is also bigger. It’s the part of a car that absorbs and diffuses the impact in a crash.
Therefore, in a smaller car, the crumple zone is also minimal, potentially putting you and the other passengers in danger.
5. Lesser chances of fatality in road accidents.
Based on a study, you’re more likely to survive a car crash if your vehicle is large.
Since the mid-2000s, car manufacturers have improved the design of larger cars, particularly their energy absorption.
That caused the fatalities to dwindle, as car sizes increased.
In fact, in research conducted by Monfort and Nolan (2019), the fatalities in car collisions reduced from 59% to 28% because of the design advancements.
6. Heavier vehicles do better in car crash tests.
Car crash tests may not only be the sole determinant of a vehicle’s safety and quality. Nonetheless, the numbers speak for themselves.
In the crash tests of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), larger cars performed better compared to their smaller compact counterparts.
That shows that size and weight are major factors in vehicles’ high safety ratings. That’s why IIHS recommends families to buy their teenage children used larger vehicles and not brand-new, smaller cars.
In fact, they added that even though parents buy small cars with high safety ratings, they would still pale in comparison to used larger vehicles.
7. They are roomier and more comfortable.
Especially if you have a growing family, you might want to invest in a heavy vehicle.
Since they are also bigger, that means you can also enjoy a spacious cargo space. If you’re carrying bags of groceries or an extra stroller, you will love this benefit.
You will also get to use the extra seating capacity, particularly if you have toddler children—kids make friends and you might pick them up along the way.
Compact cars are still comfortable, but it won’t compare to the convenience that a larger, heavier car can provide.
If you do have a compact car and you want to make it roomier, check out this car top roof bag to make more space inside your car. If you don’t want baggage to affect your car’s aerodynamics, you can get this hitch cargo carrier instead.
8. You will feel more planted on the road as you drive.
Since they are heavier, you will feel its solidness better when you’re driving on the road. That means even if you’re driving at top speed, you will still feel planted.
Other factors that will make you feel planted with your car are the following:
- All-wheel drive system
- Large, better performing tires with good grips
- Great weight distribution
- Good suspension travel
- Tire width, pressure, and quality
- Well-maintained bearings and bushes
It’s not just about feeling planted. Good weight distribution, particularly, is important because it affects your handling. A vehicle with a proportional weight distribution will let you easily steer when you accelerate out of a corner.
Cons of Heavier Cars
Now that you know some of the benefits of driving heavier cars, it’s time to know the drawbacks. These cons are not exactly dealbreakers; however, knowing them will help you narrow your choices among the array of large vehicles in the market today.
1. Ineffective projection of headlights in some models
Nighttime illumination is an important element in road safety. That’s why safety awarding bodies view cars’ well-functioning headlights in high regard.
In 2018, the IIHS awarded the 2019 Subaru Ascent as a Top Safety Pick+ honoree. One of the reasons for its wins was its effective positioning of headlights.
Now, a handful of SUVs and pickup trucks didn’t make it to their list because of their cloudy headlights and driver seats’ high positioning. The latter can create a glare, endangering the driver’s life when they’re commuting at nighttime.
That’s why when you’re buying heavy cars, not only should you check if the headlights are well-functioning but also the driver’s seat’s height.
Additionally, if you already have a car, make sure to clean your headlights and other car parts every now and then. Use MEGUIAR’S Headlight Restore to make your oxidized headlights crystal clear again. You can also use cleaning agents like the Chemical Guys super shine, which you can use on dashboards, side mirrors, and other parts.
2. Most of them have poor fuel economies.
You can save more gas money if you drive a smaller, compact car—unless you’re driving a bigger, hybrid car or all-electric vehicle.
Of course, plenty of components lead to a poorer fuel economy. However, since cars, such as SUVs and crossovers, are heavier, they also consume more fuel.
On the other hand, that doesn’t mean all large vehicles have bad fuel economies. You can still find heavy vehicles with good highway miles per gallon (mpg). A few of them are the 2016 Lexus CT 200H and the 2015-2016 Chevrolet Equinox.
Nevertheless, if you commute every day, you should really consider this carefully first before investing in a large, gas-driven vehicle.
3. Heavier cars have higher prices.
In general, car brands’ cheapest cars are also their lightest ones because they don’t take a lot of raw materials to produce.
On the other hand, heavier cars may be safer, but they also cost a lot more. That’s because you will be spending more on every safety feature, curb weight, and added weight overall.
According to personal lawyer injuries, cars became 19% safer if 1000 pounds were added to them.
Nevertheless, if you’re in a tight budget, you might want to look at mid-sized cars instead. Some brands like Jeep Wrangler and Subaru have lower prices without compromising weight and safety.
Alternatively, you can check out all-electric vehicles or hybrids with heavy batteries, for that extra safety boost.
4. You can’t easily park anywhere.
Compared to compact vehicles, you will have a harder time finding parking spots for a heavy vehicle.
Especially if you’re parking on the streets, you’ll have fewer problems with a smaller car.
Moreover, you will also pay higher parking fees with heavy vehicles or bigger, luxury vehicles. Expect even higher parking fees if you live in a packed city where parking space is limited.
For example, if you drive an SUV, you might have to pay an additional $10 to the average parking fee. Parking in hotels and airports is also more expensive if you own a larger vehicle.
Do you hate mild parking inconveniences? If you don’t have one yet, get a wide-angle dash cam like APEMAN Dash Cam. The built-in G-sensor will save you a lot of time in parking. Plus it has a night vision.
You can also opt for the Rove R2- 4K Dash Cam, which you can directly manage via your iOS or Android smartphone. It may be pricier, but the footage quality of this dash cam is ultra HD.
5. Most of heavy vehicles don’t look sleek or sporty.
If you’re after that clean, sporty look, you will rarely achieve it with a heavy car.
Most of heavier vehicles’ designs are either luxurious or utilitarian, depending on the brand or model. That’s why if you want that cool, minimal aesthetic, you should opt for a high-performing compact car.
Although, you should expect to make a few trade-offs as well, such as losing the “solid, planted” feeling and additional safety that heavy vehicles can provide.
6. More difficult cornering, steering, or accelerating.
Heavier cars also mean more glass, heavier body frame, four to five doors, and plenty of safety components.
Altogether, they are indeed heavy, causing you to have difficulty in steering or accelerating, at first. This is especially true if you’re used to driving lighter cars.
That’s why we suggest you look for heavy vehicles with guaranteed proportional weight distribution.
Now, that shouldn’t be an issue if you’re not driving to race. If you like the speedy, airy feeling, you should look for 2-door compact cars instead.
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7. You need to be more mindful when driving in high traffic areas.
All drivers must be careful and obedient to the traffic laws, regardless if they’re driving in a congested or peaceful freeway.
Now, since you will be driving a heavy vehicle, you pose more danger to smaller vehicles. This is especially true if you’re driving during rush hours.
Therefore, you should be additionally alert and knowledgeable about your driving habits and traffic violations. Moreover, you should drive at a slower speed when turning and measure the braking distance properly.
This way, you will prevent accidents and potential road rage from happening.
Which are safer: SUVs or cars?
Whether you drive an SUV or a smaller car, you will still be exposed to risks on the road. Now, according to an analysis by the Access Magazine, compact cars will expose you to more risks than larger, heavier cars. However, the gap is not so wide. Therefore, vigilance is key—your safety on the road will primarily boil down to your knowledge and proper driving habits.
Are trucks safer than cars?
If you’re driving in a bigger, heavier vehicle such as a pick-up truck, and you crash against a lighter car, you will feel the lesser impact. This is because the heavier car will push against the lighter vehicle. So, you could say you’re safer in a truck in a head-on collision.
Is a crossover safer than a sedan?
In the US, crossovers have become more popular than sedans in the last decade. One of the reasons is probably the security they feel from its larger size. People also feel more in control of their driving with crossovers.
Those are just a few pros and cons of heavier cars.
Heavier cars, in general, are indeed tough. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean smaller cars are not safe either. You can still find models that are not too big but are as safe as heavier vehicles.
Meanwhile, do you prioritize safety and like the “secure feel” that a bigger size can provide? If yes, then you should start looking for good heavy pickup trucks or SUVs at nearby car yards.
What do you know about heavier cars? Do you agree that they’re safer?
Let us know in the comments below!