2 Kias and a Nissan earn poor score in new IIHS crash test

Mixed results underscore the need to research safety when shopping

Published: August 08, 2013 12:01 AM

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has put 10 more small cars through its new small overlap crash test that replicates what happens when just the corner of a vehicle strikes an immovable object, such as a pole. The results span the full range from poor to good enough to earn a Top Safety Pick+ designation. And none perform better than the previously tested Honda Civic.

The Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and 2014 Scion tC earn Acceptable overall scores in the new test. The Chevrolet Cruze and Sonic and Volkswagen Beetle all earn Marginal scores. The 2014 Kia Forte and 2013 Soul and Nissan Sentra earn Poor scores. (The redesigned 2014 Kia Soul has not been tested.)

“In the worst cases safety cages collapsed, driver air bags moved sideways with unstable steering columns and the dummy’s head hit the instrument panel,” said David Zuby, the Institute’s chief research officer.

Find out more about car safety features and safe driving in our special section.

The frontal crash simulates just a small overlap between the front of a car and an object or vehicle it hits. It involves just 25 percent of the width of the vehicle, concentrating the force on essentially the left front corner. The tested vehicles plow into a five-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph.

To distinguish good performers, the IIHS added a "+" to the Top Safety Pick award for those models that earn a Good or Acceptable rating in this rigorous, new test, in addition to receiving Good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, rollover, and rear tests. The Civic coupe and sedan, Dart, Elantra, Focus, and tC all earn the Top Safety Pick+ accolade.

Having done well in the other IIHS tests, the Chevrolet Cruze and Sonic, and Kia Soul all are Top Safety Picks. (See which vehicles earn the Top Safety Pick award for 2013.)  But they don’t qualify for a TSP+.  Opinions are spilt on whether this test brings an added benefit in terms of lifesaving potential. Regardless, automakers have rushed to comply with this particular test to avoid looking bad in the eyes of consumers. It’s surprising that a newly created car such as the Kia Forte did poorly in this test.

Learn more about car safety in our Crash Test 101 story, and view previous IIHS crash test videos.

2014 Subaru Forester is the first small SUV to ace tough new crash test

New Toyota RAV4 does poorly in crash test
New IIHS crash tests finds some family cars outperform luxury models
New car crash test promises to make a big safety impact

Liza Barth

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