A vehicle's rollover rating estimates the risk of its rolling over in a single-vehicle crash, according to an official definition of the term by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is an important indicator of vehicle stability and safety.
NHSTA developed a five-star rollover-resistance rating system based on data gathered from over 86,000 single-vehicle crashes involving rollovers. Rollover ratings combine two measures; one is a measure of how well balanced a vehicle is when stationary and the other is a measure of how the vehicle performs in a simulated high-speed avoidance maneuver.
The 4 Best Rollover Rated SUVs
Increased size, space, and utility are all benefits of owning an SUV. However, due to their generally top-heavy design, they are also known for a higher probability of rollover. As their popularity has grown (and as lawsuits have been filed), auto manufacturers have spent millions of dollars improving SUV rollover safety.
The ratings below are based on 2010 model year SUVs with all-wheel drive. Of the 2010 SUVs tested by NHTSA, the highest rating achieved was four-stars. Many models received this ranking, so we listed the four most affordable SUVs below.
- Chevrolet Traverse. To help keep the 2010 Traverse upright, it comes standard with GM's StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control system with traction control. In the event of a rollover accident, it has six standard airbags with rollover sensors, as well as curtain airbags for all three rows of passengers.
- Nissan Murano. The Murano has become grown in popularity crossover for Nissan due to its high-end features and comfy ride. For 2010, the Murano features Nissan's Vehicle Dynamic Control system to keep its wheels planted on the ground. For rollover protection, all trim levels come standard with roof-mounted curtain airbags.
- Subaru Tribeca. Other than the BRZ, every Subaru vehicle comes standard with AWD, which can help a vehicle drive with increased stability when compared to front- and rear-wheel drive. The Tribeca is no exception. It also comes with Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Control system and a frame reinforced with high-tensile steel. Additional standard equipment includes advanced side curtain airbags with rollover sensors.
- Toyota Highlander. The Highlander—one of Toyota’s most popular SUVs—features Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control and traction control, as well as rollover-sensing curtain airbags for all three rows of passengers.
The 5 Best Rollover Rated Sports Cars
Rollover accidents can occur in any kind of vehicle, but the rollover rating for sports cars are typically higher than other types of vehicles, including pickup trucks and SUVs, due to their low center of gravity. Some cars (like the unrated Porsche Panamera) come equipped with a rollover-protection system to help enhance safety even further. Here are the top-five rollover-rated sports cars.
- Mazda Miata MX-5 Convertible. Stability control is only available on the MX-5 Miata Grand Touring, but it still only has a 7 percent chance of rolling over in a single-car crash, making its rollover rating five stars.
- Mazda RX-8 4-DR. This four-seat coupe has available stability control on all trims except the Sport. This car has a 7 percent chance of rolling over in a one-car crash, giving it a five-star rollover rating.
- BMW Z4 Convertible. This powerful features a rollover-protection system and has only an eight percent chance being in a rollover car accident, which gives it a five-star rollover rating.
- Ford Mustang 2-DR. This timeless classic has an eight percent chance of rolling over in a one-car crash, giving it a five-star rollover rating.
- Honda S2000 Convertible. This two-seat roadster has an eight percent chance of rolling over in a single car crash, which gives it a perfect five-star rollover rating.
The 5 Best Rollover Rated Trucks
Rollovers account for 45 percent of all pickup truck deaths, so the NHTSA's rollover rating for trucks should be an important factor in any purchase decision. A high center of gravity and/or narrow track width (distance between the right and left tires) make a rollover accident more likely. Fortunately for consumers, the pickups with the best rollover ratings also have the highest overall consumer ratings.
For 2010, the top five rollover rated trucks are:
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The Silverado earned four-star rollover ratings for both two- and four-wheel-drive models.
- GMC Sierra 1500. The Sierra, a more upscale version of the Chevrolet Silverado, is mechanically identical to the Silverado.
- Ford F-150. The best-selling F-150 pickup rates four stars for the two-wheel-drive model, but only three stars with four-wheel drive.
- Dodge Ram 1500. The Dodge Ram also rates four stars for the two-wheel-drive model, and three stars for those with four-wheel drive.
- Toyota Tacoma. The best rollover rating on this list (four stars, with only a 14 percent chance of rollover), make the Tacoma worth considering if a compact pickup will do.
The 5 Best Rollover Rated Vans
According to tests run by NHTSA, most vans have rollover ratings between three and four stars, with a 15 to 30 percent chance of rolling over. Vans tend to be more vulnerable to rolling over than passenger cars because of extra weight behind the rear axle. Here are five of the safest vans according to rollover tests:
- Nissan Quest. The van least likely to rollover in a single-vehicle accident is the Nissan Quest. It earned four stars with just a 12 percent chance of rolling over and a static stability factor of 1.36.
- Kia Sedona. The Sedona did well in testing, getting four stars thanks to its 13 percent chance of rolling over. The Sedona has a static stability factor of 1.31.
- Hyundai Entourage. With numbers almost identical to the Sedona, the Entourage also has a 13 percent chance of rolling over and a static stability factor of 1.31.
- Honda Odyssey. The Odyssey checks in with four stars with its 14 percent chance of rollover and 1.30 static stability factor.
- Toyota Sienna. Also performing well is the Sienna, which also has four stars. The Sienna has a 15 percent chance of rollover and a static stability factor of 1.25.
The 5 Best Rollover Rated Hybrid Cars
Hybrid owners want to help protect the environment, but not at the risk of endangering their families. Hybrid cars are put through the same rigorous testing as any other vehicle, and listed below are the rollover ratings for hybrid cars (2009 models).
- Toyota Prius. The Prius earned a four-star rating in rollover tests.
- Honda Civic Hybrid. Civic earned a four-star rating in rollover tests.
- Saturn Vue Hybrid. The Vue earned a four-star rating in two- and four-wheel-drive rollover tests.
- Ford Escape Hybrid. The Escape earned a three-star rating in two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive rollover tests.
- Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. The Escalade earned a three-star rating in two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive rollover tests.
The 5 Best Rollover Rated Sedans
Passenger cars have about a 12 percent chance of rolling over, according to NHTSA. Here are five of the safest.
- Volvo S60. Volvo has a reputation for being a leader in auto safety, and the S60 is no exception. Rolling over just nine percent of the time during intense testing, the S60 has a five-star rating. It has a static stability factor of 1.49.
- Hyundai Genesis. The Hyundai Genesis gets a five-star rating from the NHTSA. The Genesis checks in at nine percent with a static stability factor of 1.48.
- Honda Accord. The Accord also performed exceptionally well in rollover tests executed by the NHTSA, earning five stars. The Accord has only a nine percent chance of rolling over, and a static stability factor of 1.48.
- Nissan Maxima. Although it did not do quite as well as some of the other cars on this list in rollover tests, the Maxima still has a five-star rating from the NHTSA. It has only a 10 percent chance of rolling over and a static stability factor of 1.45.
- Buick Lucerne. The Lucerne performs similarly to the Maxima on rollover tests, getting five stars, with a 10 percent chance of rolling over and a static stability factor of 1.45.