That Won’t Buff Out: Small Cars Suffer in IIHS’ Latest Crash Tests

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently completed crash testing on small cars, and the results are not good. In fact, the only vehicle tested that earned a positive rating out of 12 was the Mini Cooper Countryman. The Countryman was assigned a “good” rating, while five other 2014 models earned “acceptable” ratings. Two others earned “marginal” ratings, and four others were assigned a “poor” rating.

Vehicles that were put to the organization’s test included the all-electric Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, along with the hybrid Ford C-Max. Rounding out the lineup were the Nissan Juke, Mazda 5, Fiat 500L, Scion’s xB and FR-S, the Subaru BRZ, and Mitsubishi’s Lancer.

This particular test — the small overlap front crash test – provides an even more strenuous trial than the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s head-on crash test, as it bypasses a vehicle’s main structures within the front-end crush zone. This has an effect on the vehicle’s ability to absorb energy, and as a result, can collapse the passenger cabin. In essence, the test is meant to simulate a collision between a vehicle’s front corner with another car or stationary object. During testing, 25 percent of the vehicle’s front end hits an object at 40 miles per hour.

The surprise winner of the IIHS’s testing, Mini Cooper’s Countryman, impressed testers with how well it held up. Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president of vehicle research, says that from testing, they were able to determine that the Countryman’s passengers have a good chance of walking away from a collision unharmed.