The Honda Civic remains the only small car to receive top rating on the "small overlap" crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Earlier this year, the IIHS carried out the test to two- and four-door Civic, giving them "good" ratings. IIHS recently released the results of another round of testing, this time on a number of small cars.
The group, which is funded by insurance companies, gave "acceptable" ratings to the Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and 2014 Scion tC – enough to allow them to earn Top Safety Pick+ honors. This means that the Civic is still the only small car to earn “good” ratings from IIHS – something that was achieved thanks to a redesign of the car’s front-end architecture to better handle front-end crashes.
Carmakers typically use high-strength or hot-formed steel to help their vehicles endure small-overlap crashes. This engineering task could be very overwhelming since small-overlap crashes tend to skirt the structures under the hood designed designed to crumple and absorb the impact such crash.
While some small cars managed to get acceptable ratings on the small-overlap test, a number of seemed to be struggling like the Nissan Sentra, Kia Soul and 2014 Kia Forte -- all of which received a "poor." The Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Sonic and Volkswagen Beetle, on the other hand, received "marginal" ratings."
IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby said in a statement that in cases where a vehicle would receive a poor or marginal rating, the front-end crashes resulted in collapsed safety cages.
The driver airbags also moved sideways with unstable steering columns while the dummy's head hit the instrument panel. He added that side curtain airbags failed to deploy or failed to provide ample forward coverage “to make a difference.” The small-overlap crash test replicates an accident wherein the front corner of a car hits another car, a pole or a tree at 40 mph.