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New 2013 Midsize Family Car Crash-Test Ratings Issued by IIHS

New 2013 Midsize Family Car Crash-Test Ratings Issued by IIHS

By Jeff Youngs, December 27, 2012
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has introduced a new crash test designed to reflect how well a vehicle might perform in a frontal collision with oncoming traffic, a tree, or a telephone pole, where the brunt of the impact force is concentrated on the front left corner of the vehicle. The test is the result of a 2009 IIHS study that showed such crashes accounted for 25% of the impacts resulting in serious or fatal injury to front-seat occupants of models that otherwise received top frontal-impact crash-test ratings.

This new test, called the small overlap frontal impact test, joins the existing offset frontal-impact measure, which has been renamed the moderate overlap frontal impact test. For model year 2013, models receiving a "Good" rating or an "Acceptable" rating in the small overlap frontal impact test will be eligible for a "Top Safety Pick+" designation from the IIHS.

Previously, the IIHS performed the small overlap test on a group of entry-level luxury sedans. In its latest round of testing, the IIHS evaluated 18 midsize sedans. Collectively, the midsize sedans outperformed entry-level luxury models.

"It's remarkable that this group of midsize family cars did so much better than the midsize luxury car group," says Adrian Lund, IIHS president. "The difference is stunning. Thirteen of these midsize cars offer better crash protection than all but three of their luxury counterparts, and at a price that's easier on the wallet."

Among the midsize sedans, two models earned the highest rating of "Good" in the new small overlap test: the redesigned 2013 Honda Accord Sedan and the discontinued 2013 Suzuki Kizashi.

Of the remaining 16 midsize sedans evaluated, 11 models received an "Acceptable" rating. They include the following models, which are rated as "Top Safety Pick+" models for 2013:

The 2013 Mazda 6 and the 2013 Nissan Maxima also received an "Acceptable" rating in the new small overlap frontal impact test, but because their rear-impact protection ratings are "Marginal," they do not qualify for a "Top Safety Pick" rating in 2013.

Three models received a "Marginal" rating in the new small overlap frontal impact test. They include the redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, 2013 Hyundai Sonata, and the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan. All three models retain their "Top Safety Pick" status for 2013, but do not qualify for the new "Top Safety Pick+" rating.

The two models receiving a "Poor" rating include the Toyota Camry and Toyota Prius v. "Toyota engineers have a lot of work to do to match the performance of their competitors," Lund says.

In the test for the Camry, the impact pushed the front left wheel into the driver's foot well, moving the parking brake mechanism into the driver's leg space. The windshield pillar bent, moving the instrument panel and steering column. As a result, the crash-test dummy's head glanced off of the driver air bag and, because the side curtain air bag does not extend far enough forward to offer protection, struck the dashboard.

In the test for the Prius v, the car suffered "significant intrusion," with high crash forces recorded for the crash-test dummy's legs and feet. The Prius v was also the only vehicle of this group to receive a "Poor" rating for hip and thigh protection, and the IIHS noted that while the Prius v's side curtain air bag did deploy during the test, it did so too late to offer the crash-test dummy protection.

In response to the new IIHS test results for the Camry and Prius v, Toyota issued this statement:

"The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) periodically develops new, more severe or specialized tests which go beyond federal requirements. With this new test, the Institute has raised the bar again, and we will respond to the challenge. We are evaluating the new test protocols and can say that there will not be one single solution to achieve greater crash performance in this area. Toyota has 19 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models named 2012 IIHS 'Top Safety Picks,' including the Camry and Prius v, more than any other automaker."

Consumers should note that because the Camry and the Prius v receive top ratings in all other IIHS assessments, they retain "Top Safety Pick" status for 2013.

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