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What Impact Does the IIHS Small SUV Crash Test Have on Consumers?

Posted by: Jennifer Morand

What Impact Does the IIHS Small SUV Crash Test Have on Consumers? IIHS Image Blog

Several popular vehicles performed poorly in the Illinois Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) small SUV crash test where only two of the 13 evaluated performed well. Subaru's 2014 Forester was the only vehicle to receive the top rating of "good" performance while the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was rated "acceptable."

However, other popular models such as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Jeep Wrangler received only "marginal" or "poor" ratings from the IIHS. This test holds some clout because many consumers come across the ratings when reviewing and comparing vehicles online. In lieu of the findings, we sat down with Consumer Guide Automotive Publisher and industry expert Tom Appel to find out what impact this might have on consumers.

According to Appel, the findings were presented in a way that portrays each of the vehicles to have performed poorly overall in the latest round of IIHS testing when, in fact, the models performed poorly in just one of the five separate components of the process. Additionally, of the 17 small crossover vehicles tested by the IIHS for 2013, 14 received the highest rating of "good" in four of the five tests. In the most taxing evaluation, the "small overlap" frontal crash, just one vehicle, the Subaru Forester, received a "good" rating.

As it turns out, the small overlap test is new to the IIHS, having first been performed in 2012 on vehicles in the "midsize luxury cars" segment with similar results. Only two of the 12 midsize luxury vehicles tested earned a "good" rating in the small overlap evaluation, while ten of the 12 cars tested earned a "good" in all four of the other categories.
So what can consumers take away from this? Appel says the small-overlap test is but one component of a broader test process; makers of vehicles that perform well in this category are to be applauded, but a vehicle's overall "safety" goes beyond a single crash result.

Additionally, Appel says it’s worth noting that most of the vehicles tested by the IIHS earn a "good" rating in most of the tests performed. The small overlap test clearly presents a new hurdle for manufacturers, but failure in this test alone does not make for an unsafe vehicle.

A "can’t-miss" for those shopping for a new car is the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s website at http://www.safercar.gov/. It includes information on crash tests, child safety, tire safety and emerging safety technologies. In addition, you can also check for vehicle recalls and defect investigations.

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