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Most Small SUVs Fail Insurance Industry’s Revamped Frontal Crash Tests


Detroit — Most small SUVs have failed the latest frontal crash tests conducted by the insurance industry, but oddly enough, they’re just as safe as before.

That’s because the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety updated the test to place more emphasis on rear passenger safety.

Only the Ford Escape and the Volvo XC40 earned the highest “good” rating in this year’s tests released on Tuesday. The Toyota RAV4 was deemed “acceptable”, while Audi’s Q3, Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester were “marginal”.

The others, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V and HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-5 and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross received the highest rating. bass of “mediocre”.

IIHS President David Harkey said the test is being changed because vehicle structures, airbags and seat belts have made SUVs safer for front passengers than those with the back. Now, the risk of fatal injury is 46% higher for rear passengers than for front drivers, Harkey said.

“Before, we just focused on the quality of driver protection,” Harkey said. “It’s not that the vehicle has become less safe.”

The institute has a history of changing its widely-watched tests in an effort to get automakers to make safety improvements, and Harkey says they normally react to changes.

Although seat belts restrain rear passengers, they are prone to head and neck injuries, and in many SUVs the belts are relatively untechnical and simply tighten in the event of a collision.

The new belts have sensors that determine a crash is imminent and they pull a passenger into the correct seating position before a crash, slowing the passenger’s speed with the vehicle, Harkey said. After impact, they loosen a bit to prevent the belts from slipping out of the pelvis and into the abdomen where they can cause serious internal injuries, he said.

Some automakers have already put more sophisticated belts on their rear seats, which can be done without a big model update, Harkey said. “The industry has always responded well to the tests we have introduced,” he said. “We expect them to do so in this case, and we hope they can do so soon.”

Small SUVs fare poorly in tougher new side crash test

The institute used a crash dummy that depicts a small woman or 12-year-old child to test for rear passenger injuries, and Harkey says the dummy does a good job of showing the risk to passengers of all sizes.

When the IIHS introduced the moderate overlap frontal crash test in 1995, most vehicles were rated as poor or marginal. Automakers responded with stronger structures and airbags to make front passengers safer, and all 15 small SUV models were getting high marks.

In the original moderate overlap test, a vehicle travels at 40 mph towards an aluminum barrier. About 40% of the width of the vehicle hits the driver side barrier.

Some of the SUVs tested have more sophisticated rear seat belts, but the timing needs to be determined to work best in the milliseconds before and after a crash, Harkey said. “Now they have to go back and figure out if they’re firing at the right time?” he said.

Small SUVs are the most popular new vehicles sold in the United States So far this year, compact and subcompact SUVs combined account for 23.4% of all new vehicle sales, according to Edmunds.com.


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