Nissan Xterra owners, you got some bragging rights today . . .
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has just released the results of its latest research into SUV rollover protection, confirming what many of us have known for some time: namely, that roof strength does play a major role in protecting vehicle occupants in the event of a rollover. The IIHS tested 31 leading late-model SUVs, using 11 different roof designs, for amounts of force that each design could absorb before collapsing 2 inches, 5 inches, and 10 inches . . . after which, we suppose, you’re basically a 4x4 pancake, so why bother.
When it was over, the winner was the 2000-2004 Nissan Xterra, which absorbed over 9,400 pounds of force before collapsing 2 inches and almost 12,000 pounds at 10 inches. Runner-up? The 2002-2005 Jeep Liberty (who’d a’ thunk it?), followed by the 2002-2005 Chevy Trailblazer and 2002-2004 Ford Explorer. According to IIHS, rollover-related injuries could be reduced as much as 39% to 57% if all SUV roofs were built to the Xterra’s standard. Like I said, you Nissan guys have got some bragging rights today!
Bringing up the rear: The 1996-2000 Toyota 4Runner, the 1999-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the 1996-2004 Chevy S-10 Blazer, which only took 4,300 pounds to its noggin before collapsing. Check out the IIHS report at iihs.org; it’s definitely food for thought.