Top 3 Death Trap Luxury SUVs

These Luxury SUVs are a Road Safety Disgrace

Luxury SUVs are supposed to be safe. If Kia can offer five-star safety on the diminutive Rio for well under $20,000, you’d assume every luxury SUV costing three to six times as much was at least as safe, right? Probably safer. It’s just not the case.

In the first world, we assume there are regulations to protect us. We take these things for granted. If you hand over the Black AmEx and spend $130,000 on a premium German SUV, you should not have to check that you’re getting five-star safety. But you do.

Here are the top three luxury SUVs you’d assume are safe, but they’re really card-carrying death traps.

SAFETY 'FAIL' 1:
RANGE ROVER EVOQUE - 4 Stars

$49,995 to $81,470

What Land Rover Says

“A bold evolution, like no other Range Rover you have ever seen before - but you can still tell it’s a Range Rover.” Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Design Director and Chief Creative Officer
"A city-ready vehicle with bold design, Land Rover capability and additional luxury features." Land Rover website.

The Safety Problem

“Protection from serious chest injury was marginal for the driver. The passenger's head was cushioned by the airbag but Euro NCAP found that it allowed the head to contact the dashboard.” Official independent crash test report

What Does That Mean?

The Range Rover Evoque blew its chance at five stars by flunking the 64km/h offset front crash test. It failed to score the minimum 12.5 out of 16 in that test even to qualify for the coveted five-star rating - even though the likes of Hyundai and Kia can churn out five-star SUVs like clockwork. Basically, the front passenger’s restraint system didn’t do a particularly good job keeping the head under control in the crash, and even more worryingly the risk of the driver being killed by major chest trauma was significantly higher than in a five-star SUV.

Five-star Alternatives

BMW X3

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Audi Q5

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Mazda CX-5 Akera

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SAFETY 'FAIL' 2:
JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE - 4 Stars

$44,000 to $80,000

Official Safety Rating: 4 Stars

What Jeep Says

Jeep calls it: “The ultimate search engine”. Also: “the ultimate luxury,” “the ultimate elegance,” “the ultimate refinement,” “the ultimate interior,” “the ultimate poise,” and “the ultimate design”. Jeep even has the gall to use these words: “The ultimate safety & security.” Talk about out of touch with reality...

Grand Cherokee is seriously half-baked in the frontal crashworthiness department

Grand Cherokee is seriously half-baked in the frontal crashworthiness department

The Safety Problem

“Protection from serious chest and leg injury was marginal for the driver.” Official independent crash test report

What Does That Mean?

Here's a second example of an allegedly prestige vehicle that flunked the offset frontal crash test and thus blew its chance at the five-star rating. In a frontal crash the driver is at serious risk of being killed by both major chest trauma and major leg trauma (damage to major blood vessels in your legs can kill you), compared with the driver of a five-star SUV. The Grand Cherokee scored just 9.9 out of 16 in that offset frontal crash test - a gob-smackingly woeful result that was more than 20 per cent away from the minimum entry level for five stars. Disgraceful.

Five-Star Alternatives

Toyota Prado

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Lexus LX 570

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LandCruiser 200

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SAFETY 'FAIL' 3:
AUDI Q7 - 4 Stars

$91,500 to $131,300

Official Safety Rating: 4 Stars

What Audi Says

“The new Audi Q7 sets new standards in the SUV segment. It combines sportiness and versatility, sophisticated technology and the luxury of a premium-class vehicle. On the road it excels with sporty driving performance and dynamism … Its spacious body is extremely rigid, robust and safe. State-of-the-art restraint systems protect passengers in the event of an accident.” Official Audi Q7 launch press release.

This is the bit where the floorpan ruptured and the driver's knees and legs got smashed ... in the way they don't in South Korean SUVs costing less than half the price...

This is the bit where the floorpan ruptured and the driver's knees and legs got smashed ... in the way they don't in South Korean SUVs costing less than half the price...

The Safety Problem

“Poor welding resulted in rupture of the footwell area. There was separation of the seam connecting the firewall to the footwell and failure of spot-welds in the footwell and its connection to the A-pillar ... structures in the dashboard presented a potential risk to the knees and femurs of the driver.” Official independent crash test report

What Does That Mean?

Building the Q7 in the Slovak Republic probably didn't help overall construction quality. (That quality Slovakian welding. Mmmmm...) The official report says the footwell just tore itself apart in the way that five-star vehicles don’t, and the driver ended up with both femurs and knees smashed. All up, another pathetic attempt at passing the offset frontal crash test - this time the score was 11.92 out of 16 (minimum required for five-star: 12.5). Protection for the driver’s legs was rated as marginal - just right, if you want to up the ante in respect of dying of hypovolemic shock at the roadside, following a frontal crash, compared with the driver of a proper five-star SUV. Vorsprung durch technic was obviously optional in the case of the Q7. Fancy spending enough to buy more than four Kia Sportage Platinums (five stars apiece; total of 20) and not even getting five stars to go with your four rings...

Five-star Alternatives

Mercedes-Benz M-Class

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BMW X5

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Porsche Cayenne

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