Who Will Protect the Rugged SUVs From the Economy Cars?

A decade and a half into the

SUV revolution

, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is getting around to reporting that the difference in bumper height between SUVs and normal cars leads to more damage in low-speed collisions. Hilariously, the National Highway Safety Administration told the New York Times that it

does not require

the bumpers to be the same height

because it might make it difficult to use the vehicles as intended, Karen Aldana, a N.H.T.S.A. spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail.

For example, requiring an S.U.V.’s bumper to be of similar height to that of a car might be a handicap when the S.U.V. is taken off-road.

“When” the SUV is taken off-road. Yes, more than 12 years after the debut of the

Lincoln Navigator

, the government still accepts the premise that SUVs are only incidentally riding on the roads with passenger vehicles, between the dirt-busting, trail-climbing adventures for which they are sincerely and genuinely designed.

But what’s exciting about the latest study about the consequences of driving around in jacked-up minivans is that when one of these unapologetically utilitarian vehicles does ride up over the bumper of somebody’s puny sedan in a Cheesecake Factory parking lot, the normal car doesn’t necessarily get the worst of it.

The most damage of $6,015 was done to the Toyota RAV4 when it was hit in the rear by the Corolla, which sustained $3,852 in damages.

Instead of engaging a strong bumper, the Corolla hit the spare tire mounted on the RAV4’s tailgate and damaged the Corolla’s hood, grille, headlights, air-conditioner and radiator support. The Corolla crushed the RAV4’s tailgate and rear body panels.

Got it. The SUV dominated the compact car the way a sheep dominates a wolverine. If you want to look tough, get a sport utility. If you want to be tough, drive a Toyota Corolla.