Why IIHS continues to fail in new midsize cars for side-impact performance

When it comes to crash tests, many midsize cars fail when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) evaluates them. Of the seven cars tested, only Subaru It was living up to the standard, with Hyundai and Volkswagen barely getting marks. Many of the other compounds had failed scores on multiple criteria to the point that the score was poorer than the patients.

Interestingly, the SUV counterparts of these cars performed better in the same tests, but even those who did not pass with flying colors. Admittedly, crash test standards are in the middle of a redefinition, so results can change, but for now, these cars are being judged on current standards.

Because of those seven cars, only one was rated ‘good’, two were rated ‘acceptable’, one was rated ‘marginal’, and the remaining three were all rated ‘poor’. This new test accurately simulates and reflects what a plane crash would be like in the real world.

Furthermore, another benefit of the revised test is that it generates more power in crashes and crashes than the previous test and, due to its accuracy, is slowly becoming the new standard for crash test ratings.

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Only Subaru Outback passed the new test

Of the seven vehicles tested, Subaru stood out as the only “good” car. When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted updated crash testing on these vehicles, a few were “acceptable,” while the rest were poor.

The Subaru Outback has a solid rating, while the Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Jetta have acceptable ratings, given the higher levels of passenger compartment intrusion. The IIHS noted how the impact barrier would be higher on the door panel when the vehicles were sitting on the ground, giving sedans and wagons significant disadvantages in both crash tests and real-world crashes.

This is especially true if they are hit by a vehicle traveling upwards, such as an SUV or a pickup truck. Sure, all of these vehicles are equipped with seat belts and airbags in the event of a collision, but even those ratings vary.

However, it was noted that the equipment on the Outback, Sonata and Jetta works great for both the driver and rear passenger. Of course, the Outback popped up again, as more non-life-threatening infections were on the rise in both the Sonata and Jetta.

Other vehicles were not in good condition

While two other vehicles had acceptable marks, the rest did not pass. The other four cars—the Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry—didn’t perform well, with the first only receiving a marginal rating. The rest performed poorly. In the event of a collision, the risk of injury increased somewhat in these four cars compared to the first three, especially for the driver’s head and pelvis.


Honda Accord showed moderate B-pillar intrusion into the passenger compartment, while Altima and Malibu reported significant intrusion into the passenger compartment. However, the Camry’s secure cage was reportedly kept intact.

There were reports of head injuries in the last three vehicles through the airbag and hitting the window sill. Torso and pelvic injuries were also prominent, although they were less pronounced on the Altima than on the Camry and Malibu.

The Malibu also showed a high risk of head or neck injuries for the driver, while the Camry showed a medium risk of injury to the torso and pelvis for the driver and a high risk of pelvic injuries for the rear passenger.


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SUVs were better in IIHS testing

SUVs managed to pass the tests that their mid-size counterparts could not. More than 50% of midsize SUVs tested by IIHS had “good” ratings, with 10 out of 18 passing with flying colors. IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Muller admitted that evaluating SUVs was more difficult compared to cars.

Just last year, only 1 in 20 SUVs received the “good” rating, so the SUV was able to improve crash protection in less than a year. The Muller Institute has developed the basis for the new test protocol to indicate the tweaks and modifications that automakers must make to their vehicles going forward to ensure better crash protection.

New and more rigorous side tests have been introduced on SUVs to tackle high-speed crashes that continue to cause fatalities, including the scenario where two passing vehicles crash into an intersection and crash. As noted earlier, vehicles traveling at a higher altitude benefit from contact with the fender on the side of the vehicle down.

According to a 2011 study, it was reported that a driver of a car with a “good” rating in the original test was 70 percent less likely to die in a left-sided crash than a driver of a car with a “poor” rating.

Criteria for the new side-impact test challenges


While a new crash test was recently developed, it did not change the established crash test protocol. When research indicated how many realistic side effects still accounted for nearly a quarter of passenger car occupant deaths, IIHS decided it was time to create and implement a more accurate side impact test.

One modification in the new test is to use a heavier 4,200-pound baffle that moves at a higher speed to simulate a hitter, which mimics the exact weight of a modern mid-size SUV. The test car was hit while traveling at 37 mph, unlike the previous crash test, which used a 3,100-pound barrier to hit the car at 31 mph. However, the updated test is not included in the IIHS award criteria, and the ratings will not be revised until 2023.


Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

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