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Small Cars Show Mixed Results In New Crash Tests

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(IIHS Photo)

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jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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ARLINGTON, VA — (WWJ) Fewer than half of a dozen small cars that faced a new, tougher crash test came away with passing grades.

The “small overlap front crash test” simulates what happens when a car hits a phone poll, or other object that only collides with about 25 percent of the vehicle.

“Honda’s Civic, both two and four door variants, was the only model to earn a good rating,” said Institute Chief Research Officer David Zuby. “Then we’ve got Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Scion TC all earning acceptable ratings.”

Among the vehicles that failed to pass the test were the Chevrolet Cruze and Sonic, the Kia Soul and Forte and the Volkswagen Beetle. Zuby says their tests showed the potential for significant injuries.

LINK–Crash Test Results

“We see high forces in the legs that would be indicative of serious leg injuries,” he said. “In at least one case, we’ve got moderately high forces on the head, as a result of the head missing the air bag and contacting the instrument panel.”

The Insurance Institute has been running a number of vehicles thorough these tests, with mixed results. Mid-size vehicles generally did better than the small cars that were tested this time around. Small SUV’s fared worse.

Car companies say they put a premium on safety, stressing their vehicles pass all government tests. They also say they will take this input and use it to make their vehicles safer.

While the small overlap front crash test is not part of the government’s official crash testing, the Insurance Institute designed the test to pressure car companies into doing more to protect motorists in a dangerous crash that’s a fairly common scenario. Zuby feels the companies are getting the message.

“Those manufacturers that are getting good ratings in our early tests are manufacturers that have been looking at it for some time. The others now are paying a little more attention to what’s going on, and starting to modify their vehicles as well.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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