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Some Small Cars Score Poorly in IIHS Testing

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On: Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 7:04AM | By: Elizabeth Puckett


Some Small Cars Score Poorly in IIHS Testing

Bad news for smaller car owners: you might be driving a car that did very poorly in crash tests! Results of a new series of crash tests were released last Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and some very popular models did not fare well. Half of the smaller model cars tested didn’t yield results that many would feel confident with.

Of the 12 cars tested, six received ratings of “poor” or “marginal”. GM’s 2013 Chevy Sonic and 2013 Chevy Cruze and Nissan’s Sentra each received the marginal rating; the 2013 Kia Soul and the 2014 Kia Forte and Volkswagen’s AG Beetle each got poor ratings in the test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety introduced the new overlap frontal crash test last year, which replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or a utility pole. The reason for the new test? A study shows that almost 1/4th of front end accidents that resulted in serious injury or death for front seat passengers were small overlap crashes.

Most of the vehicles tested were actually made before the new areas of testing were added by the IIHS. Auto makers will all eventually redesign their vehicles to get a passing grade on the new area of crash tests.

Vehicle makers take these tests very seriously as a high safety rating from the IIHS can equate to a larger number of sales. Auto makers makes a routine marketing effort of promoting every high grade they are rewarded in test crashes, and exploiting even the tinniest of flaws found in their competitor’s vehicles.

As a group, small cars fared worse than midsize cars in the same test but better overall than small SUVs, the IIHS said.

The good news is that while the two-door and four-door models of the 2013 Honda Civic are the only small cars to earn the top rating of good in the test, the 2013 Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and 2014 Scion tC earned acceptable ratings, which also qualifies them for the “Top Safety Pick +” honor.

In addition to now testing for frontal accidents, the IIHS is still continuing to test for the usual -- such as a how well a car holds up in a rollover accident, rear impact, side impact, and a full blown front impact.

A high or low safety rating is usually a big determining factor when it comes to buying cars, and auto makers are going to have to redesign to get better ratings on the new tests if they want to stay in the competition.




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