Best and worst vehicles for preventing passenger injuries

Even people who know very little about the laws of physics will find few surprises on the 2014 edition of the best and worst cars for preventing passenger injuries, just released by Insure.com.

The 10 best cars for preventing passenger injuries are not cars at all, but large, costly trucks and sport-utility vehicles like the Ford F-350 and Cadillac Escalade.

The 10 worst cars for preventing passenger injuries fall into precisely the opposite category:  small, lightweight cars that stress low prices and fuel economy. Dominating this list are subcompacts like Toyota's Yaris, Fiat's 500, Nissan's Versa and Chevrolet's Spark. The list also includes two of the best-selling midsize sedans.

Higher claims for injuries result in higher car insurance rates.

Insure.com analyzed insurance rates for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payments (MedPay) - the coverage that pays for injuries to your passengers in a crash. Using insurance rates for more than 750 vehicles in our annual car insurance comparison study, we identified the vehicles with the lowest and highest costs for PIP and MedPay coverage.

Size matters most

Best vehicles for protecting passengers from injuries

  1. Ford F-350
  2. GMC Sierra 2500
  3. Porsche Cayenne
  4. Ford F-250
  5. GMC Yukon
  6. Volvo XC90
  7. Ram 1500
  8. Chevrolet Silverado
  9. Cadillac Escalade
  10. BMW X1

Worst vehicles for protecting passengers from injuries

  1. Toyota Yaris
  2. Fiat 500
  3. Toyota Corolla
  4. Mitsubishi Lancer
  5. Nissan Versa
  6. Kia Forte
  7. Nissan Altima
  8. Ford Focus
  9. Chevrolet Spark
  10. Toyota Camry

Source: Insure.com. See the methodology of our annual car insurance rates study.

Vehicle size and weight affect injury risk substantially, says Russ Rader, spokesman for the Arlington, Va.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Heavier vehicles more effectively protect passengers, he says. In a head-on crash between a lighter and heavier vehicle, the heavier vehicle will drive the lighter one backwards, increasing the forces on the occupants in the light vehicle and reducing forces on the occupants in the heavier one.