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Most Small SUVs Do Poorly in IIHS “Small Overlap” Crash Test

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IIHS small overlap crash test configuration

Image courtesy IIHS.

Fast-selling small SUVs like Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and two-door Jeep Wrangler got only “marginal” or “poor” ratings in recent “small overlap” crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as AP auto writer Tom Krisher reports in The Denver Post.

In fact, only two of the 13 small SUVs tested performed well in the tests, with Subaru’s 2014 Forester being the only one to receive the top “good” rating, and the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport garnering an “acceptable” rating, Krisher notes. The IIHS designated both of these as a “Top Safety Pick Plus,” which is the institute’s new top honor, Jeanette Torres writes for ABC News. Only 20 vehicles across all categories have been given the IIHS “Top Safety Pick Plus” award, Krisher writes.

Torres notes that in addition to the above-mentioned cars, the Buick Encore, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Patriot, and Kia Sportage all received “poor” ratings, while the BMW X1, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, and Volkswagen Tiguan were given “marginal” ratings. Krisher writes that except for the Forester, all vehicles in this recent test were either 2012 or 2013 models. The institute said testing 2012 models was valid, because no significant design changes were made between model years.

The “small overlap” crash test covers only 25% of a vehicle’s front end, Krisher writes (as this blog first reported on on August 16, 2012). IIHS added the test last year, in order to get automakers to bolster their vehicles’ crash resistance.

Krisher goes on to say:

The group’s tests are more stringent than the U.S. government’s full-width front crash test. The institute says that in many vehicles, a crash affecting one-quarter of the front end misses the main structures designed to absorb the impact of a crash. Yet such crashes account for nearly a quarter of the collisions that cause serious or fatal injuries to people in the front seats, IIHS said.

IIHS ratings have clout because many consumers take them into consideration when coming across them in online car-buying research, Krisher writes. He points out that small and midsize SUVs are among the fastest growing segments of the U.S. auto market, because they get “decent” car milage while also having the cargo and passenger space of larger SUVs.

In a statement, Ford said the Escape is safe because it has advanced auto safety features and its structure is designed to manage impact in a car accident; however, Ford said it takes the new crash tests results seriously, Krisher writes.

Honda and Chrysler also responded to the new tests, as Krisher writes:

Honda said in a statement that the CR-V earned a Top Safety Pick award, which was the best when it was introduced in 2011. The company would not comment when asked if it’s reworking the CR-V so it does better in the small offset test.

Chrysler said the Wrangler and Patriot both meet or exceed all government safety requirements and perform well in real-world driving. Like most of the vehicles tested, both were designed before the IIHS added the small offset test.


One Response to “Most Small SUVs Do Poorly in IIHS “Small Overlap” Crash Test”


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