Seven of 11 small cars tested earned good or acceptable ratings in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new, tougher side-impact test, but four models were rated poor.
The Mazda 3 sedan and Mazda 3 hatchback earned good ratings. Five other vehicles — the Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla sedan, Toyota Corolla hatchback, Honda Civic sedan and Honda Civic hatchback — were rated acceptable.
The Kia Forte, Subaru Crosstrek and the Subaru Impreza sedan and wagon were rated poor.
“It’s encouraging to see so many small cars with passing grades in this new side test,” said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller.
“Smaller, lower vehicles are at a disadvantage when struck by the new test barrier, which is a more realistic representation of the front end of a typical modern SUV than our old barrier. Clearly, some manufacturers have already figured out how to provide sufficient protection in a crash like this even for occupants of small cars.”
The updated side crash test uses a heavier barrier traveling at a higher speed to simulate the striking vehicle. The new barrier weighs 4,200 pounds — close to the weight of today’s midsize SUVs — and strikes the test vehicle at 37 mph, compared with a 3,300-pound barrier traveling at 31 mph in the original evaluation.
For now, the updated test is not included in the IIHS award criteria. However, starting in 2023, a good or acceptable rating will be required for the lower-tier TOP SAFETY PICK award and a good rating will be needed for the higher-tier TOP SAFETY PICK+.
All 11 vehicles earned good ratings in the original side test.