Tougher US crash tests make small cars rate badly image

After IIHS increased rigor of front crash test last year, a batch of 12 small cars tested has revealed big problems as half of them had low ratings of “poor” or “marginal”.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety decided last year to increase the rigor of its tests in order to include crashes that involve only a front corner of a vehicle. The insurance group said nearly one-fourth of U.S. front-of-vehicle crashes that result in serious injury or death involve only a single corner that strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole. Also, it is important to note that IIHS continues to score vehicles on side, rear, and rollover and front-end crashes that impact more than just a corner.

“This is a challenging new crash test and it’s not surprising that some vehicles are earning marginal and poor ratings,” IIHS spokesman Russ Radar said of the small overlap front crash test. “This crash scenario doesn’t lend itself to a Band-Aid fix so for most manufacturers the countermeasure will have to be built in when there’s a full redesign,” he added.

In the test, IIHS crashes a vehicle at 40 mph (65 km/h) into a 5-foot-high (1.5 meters) barrier on the driver’s side that overlaps one-quarter of the vehicle’s width. The conclusions on the 12 vehicles only involved this particular test.

3. Third spot – awarded to cars that faired on the low side: “poor” or “marginal”
General Motors Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze each received “marginal” scores, while Kia Motors Corp’s 2013 Soul and 2014 Forte were rated “poor” in the results released. Also, Nissan’s Sentra was rated “poor,” while Volkswagen AG’s Beetle was ranked “marginal.”

2. Second spot – awarded to cars that received “acceptable” ratings
The 2013 Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, and Hyundai Elantra—as well as the 2014 Scion tC—all earn second-best “acceptable” ratings and qualify for the “Top Safety Pick+” designation.

1. First spot – awarded to the best, ranking on top with the “good” rating
The 2-door and 4-door models of the Honda Civic were the only small cars to earn the top rating of good in the test. The model was tested earlier this year and the results were released in March.

As a group, the small cars fared worse than the mid-sized family sedans, but better than the small SUVs, IIHS said. Results on the new crash test for minicars will be released later this year.