The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) last year implemented a new, tougher test to evaluate crashworthiness in lateral collisions. As it turned out, many compact SUVs and midsize SUVs didn’t get a passing grade.
Now, compact cars are under the microscope, and the results are a mixed bag. In fact, some of them are a shocker.
Seven of the 11 models evaluated by the IIHS passed the new side-impact test starting with the Mazda3 and Mazda3 Sport which got a “Good” score. Five others including the Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla and Corolla Hatchback along with the Honda Civic and Honda Civic Hatchback earned an “Acceptable” grade.
On the other hand, the Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza 4-door and 5-door models as well as the Subaru Crosstrek (which the IIHS views as a car and not as an SUV) all received a “Poor” rating. In the case of Subaru, a brand known for offering solid vehicles and consistently earning IIHS Top Safety Pick awards, it’s pretty disappointing.
The Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Jetta were not included in this latest round of tests by the IIHS.
“It’s encouraging to see so many small cars with passing grades in this new side test,” said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller, who spearheaded the development of the evaluation. “Smaller, lower vehicles are at a disadvantage when struck by the new (4,200lb) test barrier, which is a more realistic representation of the front end of a typical modern SUV than our old (3,300lb) barrier. Clearly, some manufacturers have already figured out how to provide sufficient protection in a crash like this even for occupants of small cars.”
The IIHS points out that a vehicle’s length can make a difference here as doors tend to be weaker than the B-pillar and the frame surrounding the