Following its small overlap front crash test for compact SUVs in May, in which only two of the 13 vehicles tested passed, the United States' Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has now released its findings on the same test for small cars. This time, six of the 12 vehicles tested earned 'Good' or 'Acceptable' ratings overall, earning for them the organization's Top Safety Pick+ accolade.
"The small cars with marginal or poor ratings had some of the same structural and restraint system issues as other models we've tested," said IIHS chief research officer David Zuby. "In the worst cases, safety cages collapsed, driver airbags moved sideways with unstable steering columns, and the dummy's head hit the instrument panel. Side-curtain airbags didn't deploy or didn't provide enough forward coverage to make a difference. All of this adds up to marginal or poor protection in a small overlap crash."
Of the six vehicles that passed, the coupe and sedan variants of the Honda Civic were the only model to earn a Good rating, while the Dodge Dart, the Ford Focus, the Hyundai Elantra and the Scion tC were given Acceptable ratings.
As for the six other vehicles in the test, the Chevrolet Cruze, the Chevrolet Sonic and the Volkswagen Beetle were tagged as Marginal, while the Nissan Sentra, the Kia Forte and the Kia Soul were labeled Poor.
According to the IIHS, having six small cars qualify for its highest safety award broadens the choices for consumers who are planning to buy a compact or subcompact car. In addition, the latest results supposedly highlight how some carmakers are now designing models to perform well in the demanding small overlap test.
"Manufacturers need to focus on the whole package," Zuby added. "That means a strong occupant compartment that resists the kinds of intrusion we see in a frontal crash like this, safety belts that prevent a driver from pitching too far forward, and side-curtain airbags to cushion a head at risk of hitting the dashboard or the window frame."
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