Small Cars Fare Poorly in Crash Tests

Small Cars Fare Poorly in Crash Tests
Nam Y. Huh/APA 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman on display at the Chicago Auto Show last February.

DETROIT -- The four-door Mini Cooper Countryman was the only one of 12 cars to earn a top rating of "good" in new frontal crash tests.

The Nissan Leaf, Nissan Juke, Fiat 500L and Mazda5 wagon all fared worst in the tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an Arlington, Va.-based safety group that's funded by insurers.

The Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ all got the second-highest rating of "acceptable." The Hyundai Veloster and Scion xB were a notch below that, with "marginal" ratings.

The small overlap front crash test, introduced in 2012, replicates what happens when 25 percent of a car's front end strikes a rigid object at 40 mph. It's a difficult test because a small area of the car's front end must absorb and manage the energy from a severe, high-speed crash.

To earn a "good" rating, a car must keep the cabin around the occupants largely intact and protect them with a combination of seat belts and air bags, the institute said. When a car's cabin collapses, as it did in the crash tests of the Juke, Leaf, 500L and Mazda5, it can move the seats and air bags out of place, increasing the risk of injuries.

The institute said 19 of the 32 small cars it has now tested have earned "good" or "acceptable" ratings on the small overlap test. The institute said the Mazda5 was among the worst performers it has tested. Its side air bags didn't deploy at all and its driver's side door unlatched, which shouldn't happen during a test.

In a statement, Mazda pointed out that the Mazda5 has earned "good" ratings on other IIHS tests, including a front moderate overlap test and a roof strength test. It earned a "marginal" rating in a side-impact crash test performed by the institute.

"We take these results seriously, and are studying the results of these IIHS tests as we consider the design of future vehicles," the company said.

The Chevrolet Volt was the only car in the group to be labeled a "Top Safety Pick Plus," because it has an optional front crash prevention system. The C-Max Hybrid, Countryman, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ earned "Top Safety Pick" awards because they don't have front crash prevention systems.

To be a top safety pick, vehicles must earn "good" or "acceptable" ratings for small overlap protection and "good" ratings on the institute's other four crash tests.

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Well, that isnt anything new. I wouldnt get anything smaller than the Toyota Matrix, I dont rent anything smaller either...

July 31 2014 at 11:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Of course the small cars are more susceptible to major damage

July 30 2014 at 8:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Charlie Jackson

DF says-----"Small Cars Fare Poorly in Crash Tests" and then AOL says 10 most underrated cars that includes several small cars like Hyundai Elantra?? ----- What a joke? Small cars, small minds, small trailers, small villages, and small people, fare poorly in everything

July 30 2014 at 7:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Charlie Jackson's comment

Small cars are like the mini, smart cars those sizes, the accent falls in that. That is what they mean small cars, the elentra is considered a mid-size as the carola,

July 31 2014 at 11:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Further evidence that Obama's clown cars that will allow manufacturers to meet EPA mileage standards are really just deathtraps. It should tell you all about his real priorities; serving the special interests.

July 30 2014 at 6:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Larry's comment

I so agree with you Larry on that one. My life means more than EPA Miliage standards than anything. I thought wow how cool is this, its the new remodel of the 2012-13 elentra, and wow cool it does great on miliage. till I hit a curb with the car popped a tire, and well I opened the trunk and it doesnt come with a spare, then I found out, that they took out the tire, so you can get the 30+ miliage per tanks, WELL MY LIFE MEANS MORE.

July 31 2014 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Get Reckless drivers off the road. - Following a person with only two feet between cars @ 65 is Reckless. IF you think you are that good and can do what ever you want, Lets go to the track, Get behind the wheel and see how good you are. People with no guts race on the street. Be a big boy and get on the track where the big boys play.

July 30 2014 at 6:08 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Tom Wilson


July 30 2014 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They forgot to include the Flintstone Mobile.

July 30 2014 at 4:01 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Now here is a brainy concept. How about driving a muscle car from the 1960s (when cars were cars) if you want to survive a crash.

July 30 2014 at 12:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Small cars have always had the reputation of doing poorly in a crash. If you want decent gas mileage you get a small car. If you want to survive a serious crash you get an SUV. Is the gas mileage trade off worth your life?

July 30 2014 at 11:42 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply