Of the seven small SUVs crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, six had worse results for front-seat passengers than for drivers in the small overlap test, the industry group said today.

Only the 2016 Hyundai Tucson received a Good result for the passenger-side test, while the remaining received ratings ranging from Poor to Acceptable. They all scored Good on the driver's side test. These results are prompting the IIHS to consider including passenger-side ratings as part of its Top Safety Pick standards.

Driver-side ratingProvisional passenger-side rating
2016 Hyundai Tucson


2015 Buick EncoreGood


2015 Honda CR-VGood


2015 Mazda CX-5Good


2014 Nissan RogueGood


2014 Subaru ForesterGood


2015 Toyota RAV4Good


Why The Results Vary

The small overlap test was started by IIHS in 2012, and it challenges the strength of the front occupant area in cases where a car collides with another car, a tree, pole, or other object on the front corner of the car. It is equivalent to a head-on collision with an oncoming car that has drifted over the centerline on a two-lane road. It was tested only on the driver’s side until now.

Since its inception, the test has resulted in 13 automakers making structural changes to 97 vehicles. No model has received anything lower than a Good rating for more than four years until the test began to include the passenger-side corner.

“It’s not surprising that automakers would focus their initial efforts to improve small overlap protection on the side of the vehicle that we conduct the tests on,” said David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer.

“Automakers need to focus on making everyone safe in their vehicles,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of auto testing. “Making changes just to do well in standardized tests is unacceptable.”

Zubey said that the IIHS encouraged manufacturers to improve the structural safety of cars on the driver’s side first with the small overlap test. The idea was that there is always a driver in the car, and not always a passenger. The hope was that the passenger corners would eventually catch up to the same level of protection.