Small cars blunder in latest round of IIHS small overlap test

Article by Christian A., on August 4, 2014

Small cars received poor score in the latest round of small overlap front crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Twelve small cars underwent the latest round of test – which assesses how well vehicles could handle 40-mph collisions wherein there is 25 percent frontal overlap with a five-foot-tall barrier on the driver’s side – but only the Mini Cooper Countryman received a good rating.

On the other hand, the lithium ion batteries of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Nissan Leaf EV survived the test. Despite that, the Leaf still received a poor rating in the small overlap test after it got significant damage that could result to left knee, thigh and lower leg injuries.

The Volt, meanwhile, got an acceptable rating in the small overlap test. It went on to received up IIHS’s only Top Safety Pick+ accolade after this round of testing. The Top Safety Pick+ designation is given to any vehicle who received: a good or acceptable rating in the small overlap test; a good rating on the other four tests; and advanced or superior ratings for front crash prevention.

IIHS remarked that EV face a “unique challenge” in safety testing because of their heavy batteries. IIHS has tested a total of 32 small cars for small overlap front crash protection -- 19 of them receiving good or acceptable ratings while 13 getting marginal or poor ratings.

Joe Nolan, the institute’s senior vice president for vehicle research, said in a statement that the Countryman received a good rating after its safety cage held up “reasonably well.”

He noted that the Countryman’s safety belts and airbags worked to control the test dummy’s movement, adding that injury measures indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a real-world crash of similar severity.

Other vehicles getting acceptable ratings include the Ford C-Max Hybrid, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. The Hyundai Veloster and Scion xB got marginal ratings.

Topics: small car, iihs

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