Small SUVs find IIHS’ tougher crash test a challenge

small suvs find iihs tougher crash test a challenge
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WASHINGTON — Only 1 out of 20 vehicles in the small SUV category received an overall “good” rating in a new, tougher side crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said last week.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover was the only vehicle to earn the “good” rating in the institute’s first tests of 2020-21 models since introducing the updated side test, which uses a heavier barrier traveling at a higher speed to simulate the striking vehicle.

“We developed this new test because we suspected there was room for more progress, and these results confirm that,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement. “The ‘good’ rating for the CX-5 shows that robust protection in a more severe side crash is achievable.”


Nine vehicles — the 2021 Audi Q3, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Toyota Venza and Volvo XC40 — earned “acceptable” ratings from IIHS. Eight others — the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, Kia Sportage and Lincoln Corsair — earned “marginal” ratings.

The 2021 Honda HR-V and 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse earned “poor” ratings.

“Obviously, these results aren’t great, but they’re in line with what we expected when we adopted this more stringent test,” said Becky Mueller, IIHS senior research engineer whose research was used to design the new test protocol.


All 20 of the tested vehicles received good ratings in an earlier version of the institute’s side crash tests, where the barrier weighed 3,300 pounds and traveled at 31 mph. In the new test, the barrier weighs 4,180 pounds and strikes the test vehicle at 37 mph.

The institute said it will continue to require a “good” rating in the original side crash test for its Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards until the criteria are updated in 2023.


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