Toyota Camry, Prius V slapped with poor safety rating by IIHS

Article by Anita Panait, on December 23, 2012

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has conducted the newest frontal-crash test -- the small overlap test -- on a number of mid-sized cars. The IIHS’s small overlap test entails crashing the front corner of a car into a barrier at 40 mph. It was devised to simulate a collision with a stationary object like a tree or a utility pole.

Three out of 11 luxury cars earned "good" or "acceptable" ratings on the first round of tests this summer. For the latest small overlap test results, the IIHS gave a good rating to the four-door Honda Accord and the Suzuki Kizashi as well as an acceptable rating to 11 more mid-sized cars.

IIHS President Adrian Lund remarked that since new technology and new innovations go into the luxury cars first, these vehicles fared better in the tests. He added that the latest ratings were a bit of a surprise. However, three other models -- the Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Jetta sedan – received "marginal" ratings.

On the other hand, the Toyota Camry sedan and Prius v hybrid were slapped with a "poor" overall rating, after the cars ranked worst on two measures of safety. Test results showed that the crash into both cars caused significant intrusion into the occupant compartment. In the case of the Camry, the front wheel was forced hard backward toward the driver's feet.

The driver-side airbags also failed to fully prevent a blow to the test dummy's head in both crashes. Lund said that Toyota needs to find a way to strengthen the occupant compartment and manage the forces out on the edge of the vehicle. During the small overlap test, around 25 percent of the vehicle overlaps with a barrier during the collision, compared to 40 percent during the current moderate overlap test.

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