In just-released crash test data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) two Toyota products are cited for poor results.
In the new small frontal overlap crash test just two of the 18 mid-size family vehicles tested earned the top rating, 11 earned acceptable ratings, three were marginal, and two cars, the Toyota Camry and Prius V, earned a “poor” rating.
Why did Toyota do so poorly? In the Camry’s case, IIHS says, “the impact shoved the front wheel back into the footwell, bending the windshield pillar and pushing the parking brake pedal and the left outer edge of the instrument panel rearward into the driver’s survival space.”
While new cars are designed to crumple to reduce the damage caused on impact, both the Camry and the Prius v had significant intrusion into the drivers survival space. “Toyota engineers have a lot of work to do to match the performance of their competitors,” Adrian Lund, IIHS president said.
While Toyota didn’t fair well, the test bears better news than the previous small overlap test that focused on luxury cars.
The cheaper mid-size family cars did better overall — only three luxury cars earned a “good” or “acceptable” rating. This time, 13 midsize family cars were at least “acceptable” in the new small overlap crash test. The test, where 25 percent of the driver’s side strikes a five-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph, is designed to replicate crashing into a poll or colliding with a car to a similarly-sized contact point.
Eleven of the mid-size family cars tested also now qualify for a new safety accolade from IIHS, earning “Top Safety Pick Plus” status. Cars gain the new accolade when they score “good” ratings in at least four out of five tests, with no less than “acceptable” on the fifth test.
Two of the vehicles tested, the VW Jetta and Suzuki Kizashi, exhibited previously unexperienced results. The Jetta was the first to have the driver airbag module detach from the steering column. IIHS says that it happened late in the crash, and didn’t affect the crash-test dummy’s movement. IIHS isn’t aware of any real world problems with VW’s airbags, although the German company is investigating further.
In the case of the Kizashi, it is unique because it is the only “moderately priced car to earn a good rating for structure in the small overlap test,” says IIHS. “The Kizashi is a rare case. It’s good small overlap test performance outweighs its acceptable rollover rating, so the car is a TOP SAFETY PICK+. So far this is the only model we have evaluated to be in this situation,” Lund explains.
Ironically, Suzuki also recently announced its exit from the U.S. market. That means there are exceptional deals available on remaining Kizashis, but the supply of new models is very limited.
IIHS Ratings by Vehicle
Good: Honda Accord sedan, Suzuki Kisashi
Acceptable: Ford Fusion, Honda Accord coupe, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima sedan, Nissan Maxima, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Dodge Avenger, Chrysler 200 sedan, Mazda6, Volkswagen Passat.
Marginal: Hyundai Sonata, Chevy Malibu, VW Jetta sedan.
Poor: Toyota Camry, Toyota Prius V.
New IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ Cars: Dodge Avenger, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord two door and four door, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima four door, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Suzuki Kizashi, VW Passat, Acura TL, Volvo S60.