WASHINGTON — Small cars provide generally less protection against injury and result in higher vehicle damage claims, according to an insurance industry examination of accident claim statistics released Monday.
The study by the Highway Loss Data Institute showed that, even among many cars of similar design, the chances of injury and collision damage at times vary widely.
Occupants of many small cars have a 30% to 70% greater than average chance of injury, the study found. The chances of similar injuries in large cars, station wagons and passenger vans are 30% to 40% below average.
The study by the institute compared the frequency of injury claims and both the frequency and cost of vehicle damage claims filed on 198 types of 1984-86 model cars.
Models with the best combined injury and collision loss record were the Pontiac Parisienne and Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, both large station wagons, and the two-door Mercury Grand Marquis sedan.
The cars with the worst records when both injury and collision damage are taken into account were the Mitsubishi Mirage and Nissan Pulsar, small two-door vehicles.
Cars in the "substantially worse than average" category experienced injury and collision losses "double those of cars with the best experience," the study said.
"Even among models of the same size and body type, injury and vehicle damage losses vary widely," the insurance group said. It cited as an example a range of more than 100% in injury claim frequencies involving small four-door cars of generally the same design.
The best ratings when only collision damage is considered went to the Chevrolet Astro passenger van, the four-door Ford Crown Victoria and two-door Mercury Grand Marquis, all with losses about half of what is considered average.
Worst Damage Rating
Cars with the worst collision damage rating were the two-door Mitsubishi Starion, Porsche 944 Coupe and Volkswagen Scirocco, all of which had a damage record nearly 2 1/2 times the average.
All but one of the 28 cars rated "substantially worse than average" were small two-door or four-door sedans. On the other hand, 26 of the 28 cars rated "substantially better than average" were large sedans, station wagons or passenger vans.
There were some exceptions to the general trend, however.
Both the two-door and four-door Saab 900 and the Porsche 944 Coupe were found to have among the best injury results, although both cars fared poorly in the collision loss category.