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How safe is your Hatchback?



  • I've really enjoyed reading everyone's comments on hatch back safety. I'm curious - has anyone been rear-ended and had passengers in the back seat? My concern is that the hatch makes back seat passengers (particularly infants and small children) more vulnerable in a rear end collision than if there were a trunk there. Does anyone have any input? I am considering a 2000 VW Golf GLS or a Honda Civic EX, and am weighing the many factors in my purchase decision. Safety is very important to me. Thanks!
  • imho, I would say that the HB's you are considering are less safe in a serious rear end collision than the sedan versions because they are shorter which means less crush space and could cause either passenger compartment intrusions or a "sharper" impact. If you still want one of these cars I would think the golf is safer as it is heavier and taller. I personally find it quite annoying that car manufacturers chop of the trunks of the sedans to make a hatch back instead of keeping the cars original length which would give a bigger cargo area and more crush space.
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335

    If you keep the overall length of the car the same and make it a hatch, you end up with a station wagon. BTW, VW does sell a Golf station wagon in Europe. I don't like the looks of it at all, but I've owned two Golfs so far and am getting ready to buy a third, so....I am quite biased.

    co-host for Smart Shopper
  • i was rear-ended on the freeway in my eclipse hatchback. only 28k on the odo. the lady who hit me (olds or buick, can't remember, but big and heavy nonetheless) was going about 15 miles an hour. i was not moving. she hit the left side of my car and totalled it. i struck the car in front of me too. the hatch wouldn't open, the left AND right rear quarter panels had dents, backseat moved up about 1/2 inch, inside the trunk was a mess, and bent my frame. i sustained minor injuries to my neck and lower back. i think passengers in my backseat would be seriously injured because there are basically no head restraints. anyway i collected the insurance and got a new integra. hehe.
  • My friend was rear ended by a mercury Sable going around 40km/h. I figured his Excel would be totalled after I saw a Civic get ruined from the same thing. His Excel was a little bashed up but he Sable's front end was all over the place. The Excel cost a lot to repair but was bak on the road in a week the Sable had to have serious work done on it and was not running for almost 2 weeks. I know this because it was another buddy of mine in the Sable. Forget this talk of cheap tin can hatchbacks. They can take a beating!
  • I use to own a 93 civic si hatchback. It was rearended by a tractor trailer. I was stopped, and the trailer was going 25 mph. Fortunately, the Civic was a stick and my foot was off the brake. That saved my life. I shot clear across the intersection. I was fine. My car needed a new rear bumper, hatch, inside hatch molding, and wiper. My point is the Metro could have been hit going that fast; especially if it was a stick with her foot off the brake (in neutral)
  • My 1990 (used)Escort LX is dying. :( But with 134,000 (approx. 40,000 on the rebuilt 1.9L installed after purchase) I'm happy. I've never had a serious scare. Just a bump in McD's drive thru. The damage: frayed nerves for me and my friend.
    I was never a HB fan until the day my locks froze. It was 5 min after I left the car wash. I ran in the bank for two min and when I came out both sides were froze solid. After deciding that I would probably break the key if I tried any harder, I remembered the HB. Low and behold the lock opened, I climbed in and drove away. :))))))
  • 86tercel86tercel Posts: 1
    i have an 86 tercel hb and was driving to work (late) one winter morning. about an hour after on a secondary highway, another kid going the other direction in an identical car went onto the wrong side of the road and died in a collision with a small ford truck. truck had almost no damage, but the car was totalled. i saw the pictures on the news and trust me, i want to get rid of my car asap (of course driving on the wrong side of the road doesn't help).

    in another accident, some kids were crammed into a civic hb and weren't paying attention to the road when they suddenly swerved to avoid a stopping car in front of them. they hit another car & went into the ditch, killing all of them (the car was squished & flattened).

    a lady was driving on a winter mountain road in a small tercel sedan and got rear ended. she died.

    i love the reliability of my car but i would definitely get a slightly larger car for safety's sake. a prelude or celica would be much better.
  • freddy_kfreddy_k Posts: 376
    I rear ended a hatchback in my hatchback. I hit a 80's supra with my '94 Escort GT at about 50 mph. both cars were a write off, but the car took the damage perfectly. The engine wasn't touched. the rad was gone, the battery was knocked out of place, the oil pan was knocked out of place. The airbag went off but the seatbelt took most of the force anyway.
    Also, I remember an artical in the newspaper about a '94 LX going off a bridge and dropping 40 feet onto its nose. The hood was folded almost in half, and the driver escaped with only minor bruises.
    Not bad for little cars. I don't trust my new escort half as much.

    86tercel: The small size and low weight will obviously make these cars less safe in accidents against large cars and trucks, but you stand a better chance in an accident with 2 small cars then 2 large cars. Also, these cars have come a long way since the '80's
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    I'm glad to know you and the other driver were able to walk away, freddy_k!

  • Last May, I was automotively sodomized by an out-of-control Chevy Blazer. This teenager driving a Blazer was speeding and swerving, and then he lost control of his truck. I was cruising along at 55 m.p.h. on the right-most lane of an interstate, less than 1 mile from the exit I was going to take when the Blazer rammed the rear end of my Golf. The impact was so hard that my car was knocked across 4 lanes of traffic, and came to rest on the opposite shoulder. Amazingly, no one else hit me. The Blazer, meanwhile, continued to go offroad, and flipped over before coming to a stop. All body panels of the truck were damaged, all the glass was broken, and one wheel got knocked off. The rear of my Golf was completely demolished, the hatchback glass, liftgate, tail lights, and a rear quarter panel were damaged. However, there was no penetration of the passenger cabin. All 4 doors remained functional. I think this was exceptionally good crashworthiness, and I think that this car is WAY safer than a Honda Civic. I was wearing my seatbelt, and my neck was sore for a few days, but I think I am OK now. It took 8 weeks and a day to get my car repaired. My Golf was repaired, but the Blazer was totalled. My Golf's repairs cost about $9,000, paid by Blazer-boy's insurance company.
    The VW Golf, at least, is a very safe hatchback.
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    I'm glad to know you are well. I'm afraid to ask about the driver of the Blazer.

  • Actually my assistant manger at a parts store I work for was [non-permissible content removed] packed driving a geo metro. The frame got twisted beyond repair.
  • carladycarlady Posts: 35
    Do you think color has anything to do with it? Our white Honda CRX was rear-ended at least 3 times.

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  • atatuatatu Posts: 12
    About 15 months ago I was rear ended by a Acura legend going about 20mph. My air bags were activated and I was pretty much unscathed, except I banged my knee a little. My Civic was totaled, they gave me $5800 for it. The Acura was also totaled, which I thought was amazing. I really liked the Civic, kind of a drag. Now I have a kid, so I'm driving a Protege...
  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    rear-ended in my 1990 Integra by a Jeep Cherokee that failed to stop for a red light. I was propelled into the car in front of me. (We were both sitting at the red light). My Integra was totalled, but I was only slightly injured.

    I don't really think it's a huge safety issue. Obviously, the trunk on a traditional car would provide a little more "crush space", but I think an impact that crushes the car to the point of intrusion into the passenger area would have to be very severe. I don't think the extra crush space of the trunk makes a huge difference, just my opinion.
  • pocahontaspocahontas Posts: 802
    Thanks for sharing your experience, and glad to hear you were not terribly harmed.... Take care.

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  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    The car I primarly drive today is a '92 Integra 3 door hatch, so I'm obviously not too greatly concerned with the safety factor in a rear-end collision! When we replace the '92 Integra in a few years, safety will certainly be a big concern, but it wouldn't stop me from buying another hatchback.
    (Our other car is a 2000 Sienna van)
  • pocahontaspocahontas Posts: 802
    For those interested: you'll now find links to Edmunds' Safety Section, and other related Town Hall discussions, on the left hand column of this page. Hope this is helpful.



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  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,842
    VW Golf was rated the best in safety in the small car category by Consumer Reports. I would paste the URL but Edmunds does not allow greater than 115 characters:( All the cars with trunks had lower safety ratings than the Golf.
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