Why Rear-Drive Cars Struggle in Small Overlap Test

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Why Rear-Drive Cars Struggle in Small Overlap Test

The Insurance Institute for Highway’s Safety’s (IIHS) small-overlap test is one of the hardest crash evaluations for a vehicle to pass, and interestingly, rear-wheel-drive models have a much more difficult time doing well for several reasons.

What makes this test so tough is that vehicles are run at 40 mph into a five-foot-tall rigid barrier, but the kicker is only 25 percent of the front end contacts the obstacle. This puts enormous loads on the safety structure, especially with a longitudinal engine arrangement, the layout found in rear-drive models.

Mike O’Brien, vice president of corporate and product planning at Hyundai Motor America said, “The powertrain is typically considered a major portion of energy management in a crash sequence.”

According to O’Brien what’s under the hood plays “an integral part of the total body structure in terms of managing how you turn the crash energy into heat and therefore keep the crash event (away) from the occupant cabin.”

SEE ALSO: 2015 Ford Mustang Ride Along

With a transverse-mounted engine like you’d find in the typical front-drive car the powertrain shares some of the crash load; in a way it acts like a shield to help absorb energy. But rear-drive is a totally different animal. “With the 25 percent small offset it basically misses the powertrain completely, so now you’re relying on body structure only to manage the crash event,” said O’Brien, a much more challenging task for the car’s structure.

On the Hyundai Genesis sedan for instance, which earned Top Safety Pick Plus honors from the IIHS, the highest you can get, O’Brien said “we have a high-pressure die-casting that forms the entire inner fender structure and it’s also bonded to steel with aerospace adhesive.” Lots of work was also done in the cowl and A-post areas. All told this layout forms an extremely rigid structure that protects occupants in even the most severe collisions.

GALLERY: 2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

2015-Hyundai-Genesis-05.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-04.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-03.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-01.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-15.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-13.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-16.jpg

2015-Hyundai-Genesis-21.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-22.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-25.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-27.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-30.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-30.jpg2015-Hyundai-Genesis-31.jpg

Discuss this story on our Hyundai forum.

  • smartacus

    Another day, another IIHS boner
    Someone tell MB and BMW their cars are not as safe as Citröen and Dacia in small overlap crashes on those one-and-a-half-lane country roads in Europe for all these years because IIHS sez so. And what about FWD cars with longitudinally mounted blocks? Are they still safer than a Subaru BRZ even though it has a flat-4?

    I hate to be the buzzkill to yet another artistically fabricated agenda fueled IIHS fantasy; but uh guess whaah:
    Yesterday i happened to see an accident downtown; a Chrysler 300 small overlapped a Tucson, one was able to drive away on its own, the other looked like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.

  • Shiratori90

    ^ Troll

  • smartacus

    ^IIHS employee

  • Shiratori90

    ^ Troll (AGAIN)

  • smartacus

    ^IIHS employee (AGAIN)

  • Shiratori90

    You’re just a boy racer neocon that believes that safety is bad, which is idiotic, immature, and dumb.

    Trolls will keep on trolling…….

  • smartacus

    Thank You for outing yourself to us all. So you ARE affiliated with IIHS. That was easy. You will be CRYING in November when your beIoved Democrats lose the Senate and 2016 when the Democrats lose the White House 😉

  • Shiratori90

    Yeah, you can go back to watching faux news now (and voting up your own comments). lol

  • smartacus

    Yeah, you can go back to watching Clinton News Network now (and you will be one of those losers denying ever being a Democrat once your beloved party loses this November)

    *childish snot-nosed reply in 3…2…1…

  • Shiratori90

    Keep kissing the butt of limbaugh and hannity buddy. Only makes you look like an even bigger troll…………

  • smartacus

    Haha i was right!
    You are a funny clown and you make me happy 😉

  • Shiratori90

    The only clown is YOU, clowning from the comfort of your mom’s basement.

  • smartacus

    No the clown here is you, clowning in cum stained sheet from the comfort of your mom’s bed. was she dry last night?

  • Shiratori90

    No. That was you and your mom/sister.

  • smartacus

    Your mom IS your sister

  • Shiratori90

    Thats you.

  • smartacus

    No, you

  • Shiratori90

    The only clown among these comments is YOU.

    Keep taking your mom/sister in the butt, troll.

  • smartacus

    You would fuck your mom less if she didn’t have a Billy D. Williams mustache

  • Shiratori90

    Shouldn’t talk about your mom/sister like that……

  • smartacus

    Now you are repeating yourself because you lost. How does it feel, loser?

  • Shiratori90

    Clearly I haven’t. I’m not the one sucking random guys’ dicks for free.

  • smartacus

    Now you are repeating my line back to me pretending you came up with it

  • Shiratori90

    ^ Another troll comment…..

  • smartacus

    Timing was off by over a month

  • Shiratori90

    I have a life, unlike you.

  • smartacus

    You are bragging about your life of sucking dicks, unlike me

  • Shiratori90

    No, that is you and you do it daily.

  • smartacus

    No that’s you

  • Shiratori90

    Keep up-voting your own comments, faux news lover.

  • smartacus

    Keep getting welfare checks off my labor you Claudine the welfare queen

  • Shiratori90

    No, that’s you. You use them to buy the lube that you fuck your mom/sister with.

  • smartacus

    You keep repeating what i say. Because you lost. How does it feel?

  • Shiratori90

    TROLL (AGAIN)

  • smartacus

    IIHS employee (AGAIN)

  • Shiratori90

    TROLL (AGAIN)

  • smartacus

    IIHS EMPLOYEE (again)

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