Insure.com recently released results of a study that evaluated passenger safety in more than 750 vehicles. The study analyzed insurance rates for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payments (MedPay) – coverage that pays for injuries to your passengers in a crash. Simply put: The lower the rates, the safer the car for passengers.
Though the study doesn't get into the nitty gritty details about what makes some of the cars perform badly, all in all, the results showed that bigger is better when it comes to this type of safety.
"If safety is a priority, you should avoid the smallest cars," advises Russ Rader, spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
"The laws of physics are always in play in crashes," explained Rader. "Weight counts. Smaller, lighter cars are safer than they used to be, but all things being equal, people riding in bigger, heavier vehicles get more protection in crashes."
Though small cars often perform well in crash tests, Insure.com said, sheer size of your car will ultimately go further in protecting your passengers.
Click on through to see which vehicles are the best for passenger safety, and which are the worst.
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway
The GMC Terrain is a five-person crossover. With numerous standard safety features such as four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic stability and traction control, six airbags, OnStar, tire pressure monitoring and a security system, the Terrain is good for the fifth spot on the list.
In addition to being safe for passengers, the Terrain also gets great fuel economy and comes with a well-appointed interior.
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Fuel Economy: NA
The big, burly 2500HD is available in a wide array of bed sizes, wheelbases, drive types and cab sizes, as well as a variety of trim levels. Stability control, hill start assist and a trailer sway control system are standard on the Sierra 2500 and its large size and sturdy construction make it very safe for passengers.
The SLE Sierra, which has an MSRP of $32,920, is the trim level singled out as the safest by the study.
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Fuel Economy: 14 mpg city, 18 mpg highway
The Yukon Denali is yet another GMC vehicle that has been picked as one of the safest for passengers. A big SUV with numerous luxury appointments and standard safety features, such as dual-stage front airbags, side curtain airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with dynamic rear proportioning, Stabilitrak stability control system with rollover mitigation, tire pressure monitoring system, and OnStar, the Yukon Denali is good for the third best on the list.
The Yukon SLT, which is a trim level below the Denali, is also included as one of the safest for passengers.
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MSRP: $48,850 - $108,750
Fuel Economy: 15 mpg City, 22 mpg Highway
Legendary Porsche driving prowess comes in SUV form with the Cayenne. And in addition to great driving dynamics and luxury, the Cayenne also benefits from having a wide range of safety features, including Porsche Stability Management (PSM), Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC).
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MSRP: $23,590 - $49,130
Invoice: $22,646 - $45,691
Fuel Economy: 15 mpg City, 20 mpg Highway
GMC took 4 of the top 5 spots on the list, with the Sierra 1500 SLE, SLT and Work Truck as the number 1 pick for passenger safety.
The Sierra 1500 is the little brother of the 2500 and comes with many of the same safety features. On the 1500, the standard StabiliTrak stability control system with proactive roll avoidance includes traction control, trailer sway control and hill hold assist.
This truck is the best place to be if you're a passenger in a car.
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Fuel Economy: 12 mpg City, 18 mpg Highway
The pricey Mercedes-Benz CL600 comes with a lot of stuff, but passenger safety isn't one of them. Though its 5.5L V12 and sleek design are sure to delight drivers, their passengers may have a different opinion considering the results of the study.
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Fuel Economy: 18 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway
The Ralliart is the highest trim level available on the Mitsubishi Lancer, though you're certainly not alone if you've never heard of it. With a 237-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, paired to a six-speed Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift transmission, the Ralliart is fun to drive, but it's among the worst for passenger safety.
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Fuel Economy: 27 mpg City, 34 mpg Highway
The Toyota Corolla is one of the best selling small sedans, but also one of the worst cars for passenger safety, according to the study. The Corolla is due for a redesign this year, which will likely improve its safety score.
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MSRP: $13,800 - $17,900
Invoice: $13,530 - $17,070
Fuel Economy: 29 mpg City, 37 mpg Highway
This small hatchback took the number two spot for worst cars for passenger safety. This Rio is great for its standard equipment and sporty exterior design, but passenger safety is a concern with this 5-door.
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MSRP: $16,000 - $22,000
Invoice: $15,565 - $21,145
Fuel Economy: 31 mpg City, 40 mpg Highway
The worst car for passenger safety, according to the study, is the Fiat 500. The little Italian hatchback boasts bold styling and great fuel economy, but passenger safety is a concern across all trim levels.
Occupants are protected by seven airbags, active front head restraints, electronic stability and traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system, but the reality is that this teeny car is going to lose is almost every time of collision.
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