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.
For the 2013 model year, Honda Civic will be offered as a coupe or a sedan powered by a gasoline engine or as Si" performance models. Moreover, the 2012 Civic will also be offered in HF (high fuel efficiency), hybrid and natural gas alternative-fuel versions.
Interestingly, the Civic’s all-aluminum 1.8-liter i-VTEC 16-valve four-cylinder engine remains the same for 2013, as it was introduced on the 2012 model. This engine – known for its responsiveness, refinement, and fuel efficiency – still delivers 140 hp of max output and 128 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4300 rpm, and is mated to either a five-speed manual gearbox or five-speed automatic transmission.
This engine – when mated to the automatic transmission -- has allowed the Honda Civic Sedan and Coupe to earn an EPA fuel-economy rating of 28 mpg city/39 mpg highway/32 mpg combined. The same engine has allowed the Civic HF Sedan to earn a rating of 29 mpg city/41 mpg highway/33 mpg combined.
Meanwhile, the 2013 Honda Civic Natural Gas -- now available in 37 states in the US – remains as the only natural-gas powered sedan mass-produced for the market. In his version, the 1.8-liter engine delivers 110 hp and earns an EPA fuel economy rating of 27 mpg city/38 mpg highway/31 mpg combined.
As for the 2013 Civic Hybrid, this version makes use of a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine backed by Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Together, this hybrid system sends 110 hp of output and 127 lb.-ft. of torque to the wheels through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The Honda Civic Hybrid is EPA-rated to return 44 mpg for all driving situations.
Honda has fitted the Civic Sedan and Coupe as well as its Civic Natural Gas and Civic Hybrid models with its ECO Assist technology. This technology allows drivers to operate their Civic models more efficiently just by pushing the green, dash-mounted "ECON" button.