Small SUVs from Subaru and Mitsubishi given Top Safety Pick+ by IIHS

Article by Anita Panait, on May 16, 2013

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety handed “Top Safety Pick+” honors to the Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport after the small sport utility vehicles aced the group’s "small overlap" crash test. In fact, the Forester and the Outlander Sport were the only small SUVs that sailed through the innovative small overlap crash test, in which the front corner of a vehicle on the driver's side collides against a five-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph.

The redesigned 2014 Subaru Forester received “Top Safety Pick+” honors after getting a "good" rating on the test. Joe Nolan, vice president for vehicle research at IIHS, said in a statement that the Subaru's engineers succeeded in doing well in the new test with the redesigned Forester.

Nolan remarked that this is exactly how IIHS hoped carmakers would respond to improve protection for people in these types of serious frontal crashes. The IIHS said that 20 vehicles have now received Top Safety Pick+ accolades for safety in small overlap crashes.

The tests simulate a crash in which the corner of a car strikes an object like a tree or pole. But they are yet to be included in the federal government's five-star ratings, although researchers say such crashes account an outsized share of driving deaths.

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport likewise received Top Safety Pick+ honors from IIHS, but lagged the Forester with an "acceptable" score on the small overlap test.

Five other small SUVs -- the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Buick Encore, Jeep Patriot and Ford Escape – all received "poor" ratings on the test. For instance, when the Patriot crashed, its steering wheel moved 8 inches upward and 6 inches to the right, making the crash test dummy's head slide off the airbag. Additionally, the Patriot’s side curtain airbag failed to deploy, and its safety belt failed to restrain the dummy's head and chest.

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