View SUV Rollover Statistics from the NHTSA

NHTSA Rates Mazda Cars in Top Spots

According to a recent report from the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, SUVs did more poorly than cars when it comes to rollover statistics. Is your SUV one of the ones that is more prone to roll over than other types?

NHTSA uses several sets of tests and information to come up with the scores. It uses real-world accident data (a calculation that essentially measures center of gravity). It also uses a dynamic test maneuver whereby a vehicle is quickly turned one way and then sharply the other way to trigger a roll-over.

SUV Rollover Statistics

When it comes to car and SUV rollover statistics, which vehicles held up better than others? 

  • Mazda can certainly take a bow, as its RX-8 four-door sports car scored best among all of the vehicles tested
  • The Acura TL sedan finished second
  • The Mazda3 compact sedan came in third place
  • Volkswagen's New Beetle Convertible was fourth overall
  • Hyundai's Tiburon sports coupe fifth.
  • The highest-ranked American car was the Pontiac Grand Prix, which came in eighth.

The leader in rollover avoidance among the SUV class was the all-wheel-drive version of the Chrysler Pacifica but one could argue whether the Pacifica is really an SUV. Some may think it is more of a "tall station wagon" as it's a crossover. And which vehicle finished last? Ford Explorer's SportTrac 4x2. The 4x2 versions of the Mercury Mountaineer, Ford Explorer, GMC Yukon, and Chevy Tahoe also scored near the bottom as being more prone to tumbling over.

What Makes a Car or SUV Prone to Rolling Over?

Some interesting facts accompanied the ratings. While having several passengers can make a low-riding sedan even more stable, high-riding sport utility vehicles become even more unstable with extra people. This is according to R. David Pittle, the senior vice president of technical policy at Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports magazine. A vehicle’s stability can be influenced by an array of factors, such as height, the width between tires, the design of its suspension system, tire grip, the location of the engine mount, and even the weight of its sunroof, NHTSA engineers say.

Perhaps the most concerning statistic to come from the government's data is one that shows that 75 percent of all occupants killed in rollovers were not wearing seatbelts. So while your SUV may not have stacked up well according to the NHTSA, it may be safer if you ensure that all of the passengers are buckled up.

According to Consumer Reports, any vehicle has the ability to roll over. Taller, narrower vehicles such as SUVs, pickup trucks and vans are more susceptible to tumble over compared to traditional cars. This is because they are more top-heavy and have a higher center of gravity. When a top-heavy vehicle rounds a curve, the gravity shifts to one side and it can cause a roll-over. However, turning alone typically isn't the culprit of a roll-over; in many cases, the vehicle runs over a curb or pothole which causes it to shift and roll over.