With small sport-utility vehicle sales through the roof, rising 13.6 percent this year through April, it is alarming that barring the 2014 Subaru Forester, all of the vehicles tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety scored poorly on its new crash test. While the Forester earned an overall rating of Good on the test, the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned an Acceptable, and each of the 11 other SUVs scored either a Poor or Marginal rating, the IIHS report shows.
The IIHS’s new test simulates a deadly type of front-end crash with the vehicle’s front corner hitting a car, tree, or pole. Twenty-five percent of the vehicle’s front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph with a 50th percentile male dummy in the driver seat. Bloomberg explains that the test is tougher than U.S. auto-safety regulators’ crash tests, and was introduced last year because the type of accident simulated in the test is what accounts for one-fourth of frontal crashes that injure or kill people in the front seats. According to preliminary estimates from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, deaths on U.S. roads last year have increased for the first year since 2005.
The 2014 Subaru Forester and 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport both qualified for the Institute’s “Top Safety Pick+” while the other 11 SUVS did not fare as well. The six SUVs that scored “marginal” were Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s X1, Mazda Motor Corp. (7261)’s CX-5, Honda Motor Co.’s CR-V, the Jeep Wrangler, Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Tiguan, and Nissan Motor Co.’s Rogue.
In the case of Nissan’s Rogue, the Institute reported that “the door frame of that model was pushed ‘far inside’ the passenger compartment in the crash and almost touched the driver.”
Vehicles that earned a “poor” rating were the Hyundai Motor Co. Tucson, Kia Motors Corp. Sportage, General Motors Co.’s (NYSE:GM) Buick Encore, Chrysler LLC’s Jeep Patriot, and Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE:F) Escape.
Though most of the small SUV group had difficulties with the test, the Institute expressed satisfaction with the Forester’s results saying, “This is exactly how we hoped manufacturers would respond to improve protection for people in these kinds of serious frontal crashes.”