Small Cars Struggle to Meet Increased Safety Standards in IIHS Side Crash Tests

Eleven small cars and crossovers were put through the side crash safety test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that has since raised its standards for a passing score. Anything that receives less than an “acceptable” rating receives an automatic failing grade. Once the test was complete, the final results were a mixed bag.

Only two cars received “Good” scores, while five received an “Acceptable” grade, and four received a “Poor” rating.

The table below shows the results:

VehicleScore In New Side-Impact Test
2023 Mazda 3 HatchbackGood
2023 Mazda 3 SedanGood
2022 Honda Civic HatchbackAcceptable
2022 Honda Civic SedanAcceptable
2022 Nissan SentraAcceptable
2022 Toyota Corolla HatchbackAcceptable
2022 Toyota Corolla SedanAcceptable
2022 Kia FortePoor
2022-23 Subaru CrosstrekPoor
2022-23 Subaru Impreza SedanPoor
2022-23 Subaru Impreza WagonPoor

The side crash test involves a 4,200-lb barrier representing a standard size SUV striking the cars at 37 miles-per-hour. The previous test involved a 3,300-lb barrier travelling at 31 miles-per-hour. The IIHS adjusted its testing standards after discovering that almost a quarter of side-impact crashes that result in fatalities occurred at higher speeds.

Before these changes were made, all eleven vehicles involved in the new test would have received a “Good” rating in the original test.

“Smaller, lower vehicles are at a disadvantage when struck by the new test barrier, which is a more realistic representation of the front end of a typical modern SUV than our old barrier,” says IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Meuller. “Clearly, some manufacturers have already figured out how to provide sufficient protection in a crash like this even for occupants of small cars.”

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