MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Just half of the dozen small cars the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety featured in recent crash tests managed to earn a good or acceptable rating from the group.
Only two cars, the two-door and four-door Honda Civic earned a top rating of good from the IIHS. The Dodge Dart, Hyundai Elantra, and 2014 Scion tC earned acceptable ratings in the overlap crash tests performed by the insurance group.
The overlap test tries to simulate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle hit another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole. The test features one-quarter of the front end hitting a five-foot-tall barrier at 40 miles per hour.
“The small cars with marginal or poor ratings had some of the same structural and restraint system issues as other models we’ve tested,” says David Zuby, the Institute’s chief research officer. “In the worst cases safety cages collapsed, driver airbags moved sideways with unstable steering columns and the dummy’s head hit the instrument panel. Side curtain airbags didn’t deploy or didn’t provide enough forward coverage to make a difference. All of this adds up to marginal or poor protection in a small overlap crash.”
The new VW Beetle had problems during the test with the steering column moving five inches to the right while the crash test dummy’s head moved forward and to the left. The Beetle’s seatbelt also spooled too much sending the dummy forward 13 inches and the side curtain airbag didn’t deploy, according to the IIHS.
As a result, the Beetle received just a marginal rating overall. The worst performer in the small group though was the Kia Forte. From too much seat belt slack to lack of airbag deployment, the IIHS said the Forte’s crash allowed the dummy’s head to hit the windshield pillar and the instrument panel.
“Manufacturers need to focus on the whole package,” Zuby says. “That means a strong occupant compartment that resists the kinds of intrusion we see in a frontal crash like this, safety belts that prevent a driver from pitching too far forward and side curtain airbags to cushion a head at risk of hitting the dashboard or window frame.”