The safest compact car on the market is the Honda Civic, according to new crash test results released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), with half of all small cars receiving top marks.
Of 12 cars evaluated in the latest round of crash tests, which include the new small overlap crash tests only the Civic (both coupe and sedan) earned a rating of “good” in the test.
An additional four cars: the Dodge Dart, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Scion tC earned an “acceptable” rating, which when combined with their other crash tests results is enough to also give them a Top Safety Pick+ award.
In total, just 25 cars on the market have received the Top Safety Pick+ rating since it was introduced last year. The + rating includes the small overlap test shows what happens when the front corner of a car strikes another vehicle or a pole at a speed of 40 mph..
Of vehicles testes, the Nissan Sentra, Kia Forte and Soul fared the worst, receiving a “poor” rating – the worst possible.
The Sentra suffered from significant occupant area intrusion during the crash while the Forte suffered from both structural issues and poorly functioning restraint systems. As a result of excessive slack in the seat belt, the dummy in the Forte hit the windshield pillar and instrument panel.
“The small cars with marginal or poor ratings had some of the same structural and restraint system issues as other models we’ve tested,” says David Zuby, the Institute’s chief research officer. “In the worst cases safety cages collapsed, driver airbags moved sideways with unstable steering columns and the dummy’s head hit the instrument panel. Side curtain airbags didn’t deploy or didn’t provide enough forward coverage to make a difference. All of this adds up to marginal or poor protection in a small overlap crash.”
In the case of the VW Beetle, the steering column tilted 5-inches in the crash. Combined with excessive seat belt slack, the dummy hit its head on the dashboard. Another low scorer was the Chevrolet Sonic, in which the side airbag deployed too late. The Beetle, Sonic and Chevrolet Cruze all earned “marginal” ratings.
While results varied significantly in IIHS testing, all cars conform to current government crash testing procedures. In addition to the small overlap crash test, IIHS testing includes a moderate overlap front crash, side impact and rollover test, plus evaluations of restraint systems. From best to worst, the IIHS rating system awards vehicles a score of good, acceptable, marginal or poor.
Overall, compact cars fared worse than mid-size sedans, but better than small crossovers and SUVs. The IIHS will release the results of minicars later this year.
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