5 Small Cars That Owned This Tough New Crash Trial

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, announced that it was awarding its Top Safety Pick+ award to the six models that did pass its harsh new overlap frontal crash test that was first put into use last year, signaling that automakers are taking the rigorous trial seriously and making the needed adjustments to ensure that their vehicle occupants are as safe as can be.

The frontal overlap test involves driving a car at 40 miles per hour in such a way that 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end on the driver’s side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier, The Detroit News reports. The crash simulates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or a utility pole.

The overlap test is especially difficult for vehicles. Chuck Thomas, Honda’s (NYSE:HMC) chief engineer for vehicle structure research, explained to Auto News that a small-overlap impact misses the steel beams that crumple to cushion a head-on crash, leaving more room and ability for the crash to make its way toward the cabin of the car.

“The structures which are most capable of absorbing that kind of front-end energy just aren’t so accessible,” he said to the publication. “That’s what makes these crashes very severe.”

However, manufacturers are adjusting well to the new test. Here are five examples of cars that have aced the IIHS’s new test.

Note: The Detroit News counts the Honda Civic two- and four-door variants as two cars. Here, we only count them as one.


1. Honda Civic

The 2013 Honda Civic, in both its two- and four-door variations, was the only vehicle to score a top rating of Good in the IIHS test. This feat is made more impressive because smaller cars faired worse than their larger counterparts in the testing. At base, the Civic costs just shy of $18,000.


 2. Dodge Dart

The Dodge (FIATY.PK) Dart — and the remaining cars on this list, for that matter — all earned a rating of Acceptable in the IIHS frontal overlap test, and although that’s not the top rating, it’s enough for a Top Pick+ distinction. The Dart starts at $15,995.


3. Ford Focus

Starting at $16,310, the Ford (NYSE:F) Focus was also awarded an Acceptable rating. There was no distinction given between trims, and The Detroit News didn’t specify if the Focus EV enjoyed the same success in the test.


 4. Hyundai Elantra

Once considered to be a cheaply made, cost-effective choice, Hyundai has made substantial gains in numerous areas, with its Elantra rolling in as one of the highest-rated cars in the frontal overlap test. The Elantra runs about $16,965 at base. It, too, was awarded the Acceptable rating.



5. Scion TC

Toyota’s (NYSE:TM) subsidiary brand Scion has performed well, also obtaining an Acceptable rating from the IIHS. The Scion TC starts around $22,195.