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Small SUV's - Most Fail New IIHS Crash Tests Tests


Washington, DC--May 16, 2013: The 2014 Subaru Forester is the first vehicle to ace every aspect of the challenging small overlap front crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Forester, the only 1 of 13 small SUVs to earn an overall rating of good in the test, and the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, which earns acceptable, are the latest vehicles to qualify for the Institute's recently inaugurated top honor, TOP SAFETY PICK+. Each of the other 11 SUVs earns either a poor or marginal rating.

IIHS added the small overlap test to its lineup of vehicle safety evaluations last year. It replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or a utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. A 50th percentile male Hybrid III dummy is belted in the driver seat.

Most vehicles today are designed to do well in the government's full-width front crash test and in the Institute's moderate overlap front test, but that is no guarantee of good performance in a small overlap crash. In a 2009 IIHS study of vehicles with good ratings for frontal crash protection, small overlap crashes accounted for nearly a quarter of the frontal crashes involving serious or fatal injury to front seat occupants. In many vehicles the impact at a 25 percent overlap misses the primary structures designed to manage crash energy. That increases the risk of severe damage to or collapse of the occupant compartment structure. Also, vehicles tend to rotate and slide sideways during this type of collision, and that can move the driver's head outboard, away from the protection of the frontal airbag.

Those difficulties were apparent in the small SUV group. Two-thirds of the vehicles had poor ratings for structure, and about half of them were poor or marginal for restraints and kinematics, meaning the dummy's movements weren't well-controlled to prevent contact with hard surfaces.