It’s no surprise that vehicles are safer today than they ever have been. With all of the new technology coming out and within our reach, it’s easier for us to test and modify and test and modify until we are certain vehicles are as safe as we can make them. And luckily all of this information is available online. If you’re looking to purchase a new car, this information is definitely one of the most important pieces you should look into. So here’s a few things that you should know about crash test ratings.

Crash Test Results May Vary

Front crash test comparisons are only valid between vehicle class models. And these class models must be within 250 pounds of each other. This means if a vehicle receives a 5 star crash test rating, that’s only compared to other vehicles in its same class, not all vehicles across the board. For instance a Honda Civic and a Toyota Corolla are in the same class, but a Ford Explorer would not be. So it’s important to realize 5 star performance for one is calculated differently than 5 star performance for the other.

However, according to, “Side-impact crash tests are comparable across classes because the sled that rams the test vehicles is of a consistent size and weight.”

Not all Vehicles Have Been Independently Tested

There are about 40 different brands that sell upwards of 300 different models in the US alone. That’s a lot of vehicles. Which means that’s too many for the government or the trade group to test..

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ranks not only the vehicles it crash-tests at it’s lab, but also uses those scores to rate other, untested, vehicles if they are built on the same platform. That means that the GMC Acadia was crash test rated, and since the Chevrolet Traverse and the Buick Enclave are on the same platform, the results apply to the other models.

It’s important not to generalize when buying a car. Make sure you do your research and look at the crash test ratings for the specific model you want to purchase.