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Three Midsize SUVs Earn “Good” Rating from IIHS in Passenger-Side Small Overlap Frontal Crash Tests

Three Midsize SUVs Earn “Good” Rating from IIHS in Passenger-Side Small Overlap Frontal Crash Tests

By Joseph Dobrian, June 12, 2018
Three midsize SUVs—the 2018 GMC Acadia and Volkswagen Atlas, and the 2019 Kia Sorento—have earned a highest-possible “Good” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in testing for passenger-side small overlap frontal crash protection. The IIHS gave “Acceptable” ratings (its second-highest) to the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot. The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer both earned “Poor” ratings. In addition, the Sorento earned the Institute’s highest accolade of “Top Safety Pick+” for overall crash protection.

A small overlap crash occurs when just the front corner of the vehicle strikes another vehicle or a fixed object, such as a tree or utility pole. The IIHS instituted the driver-side small overlap test in 2012, and the passenger-side version in 2017, in response to the question of whether progress made in augmenting driver-side protection has been matched by progress on the passenger side.

“Although some vehicles in this group offer very good protection, in other models, the air bags, safety belts, and structure showed serious deficiencies,” said IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby. “In those SUVs, a front-seat passenger would be at risk of injuries to the head, hip, or leg in a right-side small overlap front crash.”

Tests Show Potential for Head Injuries
The Ford Explorer got a “Poor” rating, the IIHS explained, because a collision seriously compromised its structure. Intrusion reached 15 ins. at the lower door hinge pillar and 13 ins. at the upper door hinge pillar and the dashboard. The door sill was pushed in 6 ins. toward the dummy. Measures taken from the dummy showed a high likelihood of injuries to the right hip in a real-world crash of the same severity, as well as a possibility of left lower leg injuries.

The Explorer also had “Poor” structural performance in the driver-side test. Overall, however, the vehicle earned a rating of “Marginal” (third-highest of the IIHS’s four classifications) for driver-side small overlap protection. Ford is in the process of redesigning the Explorer and says the new model will have improved small overlap protection on both sides.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee had maximum intrusion of 10 ins. at the lower door hinge pillar, and a collision appeared to show that a real-life accident of this type could result in a head injury. The passenger dummy’s head hit the dashboard hard through the front air bag and then—because the side curtain air bag didn’t deploy and the door opened—the dummy’s head moved outside the vehicle during rebound. Measures from the dummy also indicated that right leg injuries would be likely in a crash of this severity.

Head injuries in real life also appeared to be a possibility in a crash of this sort involving the Honda Pilot. The head of the passenger dummy slid off the front air bag and moved far enough forward to hit the dashboard hard. However, with good structural performance, the Pilot still earns an overall rating of “Acceptable.”

The Acadia had maximum intrusion of only 2 ins. on the right side of the toepan. However, the passenger dummy’s head slid off the right side of the front air bag, leaving it vulnerable to contact with forward structure.

Improvements Pay Off for Sorento
The Sorento earned its high rating for the 2019 model year due to the maker’s efforts to improve protection in a passenger-side small overlap crash: reinforcing the passenger-side toepan and door sill. In the test, the structure held up well, with maximum intrusion of 4 ins. on the right side of the toepan, and the dummy’s movement was well-controlled.

The Sorento won its “Top Safety Pick+” award by earning a “Good” rating in that test and “Good” ratings in the other IIHS crashworthiness tests. Vehicles that earn that award require an “Advanced” or “Superior” rating for front crash prevention and “Good”-rated headlights. The Sorento qualifies when equipped with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights.

For complete midsize SUV passenger-side frontal crash test ratings, visit:
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