March 7, 2005 by Canadian Underwriter
Fourteen of 16 small cars were rated poor in tests simulating a side impact crash with an SUV, says the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Only the Chevrolet Cobalt and Toyota Corolla, which are equipped with optional side airbags with head protection achieved an acceptable rating on the text, however, without the optional airbags, their ratings were also poor.
The other cars rated poor were: Dodge Neon, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Spectra, Mazda 3, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra, Saturn ION (both with and without side airbags), Suzuki Forenza, Suzuki Aerio and VW New Beetle.
The test involves a moving deformable barrier weighing 3,300 pounds and shaped like the front-end of an SUV, striking the car at 31 mph.
The IIHS adds that it will test three other small car models later this year, including the Mini Cooper and Subaru Impreza, with new designs intended to improve side impact performance, and the Honda Civic, which has been completely redesigned.
“These side impact results are similar to the results in 1997 when the Institute first rated small cars in the frontal offset crash test," says Adrian Lund, COO of the IIHS. “Back then, no small car earned a good frontal crash test rating. Now almost every small car earns a good rating in the frontal test. As manufacturers redesign their vehicles, we expect that small cars will get better in the side impact test too.”