Honda Civic - only small car to get top rating in small overlap test

Article by Anita Panait, on August 9, 2013

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.

Press Release

2013 Honda Civic Sedan and Coupe Models Remain Only Small Cars to Achieve Top IIHS Small Overlap Frontal Crash Ratings

The 2013 Honda Civic Sedan and Coupe remain the only small cars to earn the top rating of GOOD in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) stringent small overlap front crash test. The Civic Sedan and Coupe are also the only small cars to earn both the highest possible rating of TOP SAFETY PICK+ from the IIHS and the top 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score in the NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

"Honda continues to lead the industry in crash test performance, and after watching the videos, I think every compact car shopper should view the results of the new IIHS small overlap front crash tests before deciding on their next car," said Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of auto operations at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "For customers looking to buy a compact car that achieves an overall GOOD rating in the IIHS small overlap frontal test, Civic is currently the only choice."

The Civic Sedan, significantly reengineered for 2013, is equipped with Honda's next generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™ II) body structure, which plays a critical role in making Civic the first small car to earn a TOP SAFETY PICK+ crash safety rating, and the first—and to date, only—to earn the highest rating of GOOD in the IIHS' new small overlap front crash test (sometimes called a 'narrow offset' test). This aggressive test is designed to simulate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole at high speed. The reinforced ACE™ body structure found on the 2013 Civic further enhances the absorption of frontal crash energy through a wider range of these offset and oblique collision scenarios.

Additional standard safety equipment on all Civic models include Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control; an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS); side curtain airbags; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; and driver and front passenger side airbags.

Honda Safety Leadership
Honda has a long history of leadership in the development and application of advanced technologies and designs to enhance the safety of all road users, including automobile occupants, motorcycle riders and pedestrians. The company operates two of the world's most sophisticated crash test facilities and is responsible for numerous pioneering efforts in the areas of crashworthiness, airbag technology, collision compatibility and pedestrian safety. This commitment to safety is rooted in Honda's goal to be a company that society wants to exist, and it complements the company's leadership in reducing vehicle emissions, improving fuel efficiency and advancing alternatives to gasoline.

Honda Vehicle Ratings by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

2013 Honda TOP SAFETY PICK+:

  • Honda Accord Coupe
  • Honda Accord Sedan
  • Honda Civic Coupe
  • Honda Civic Sedan


  • Honda Fit
  • Honda Crosstour
  • Honda Civic Sedan
  • Honda CR-Z
  • Honda CR-V
  • Honda Insight
  • Honda Pilot
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Honda Ridgeline

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