As announced by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an agency funded by the insurance industry (IIHS), compact cars were found to fall short in protecting rear occupants in their latest frontal crash test.
“In all of the small cars we tested, the rear dummy will ‘slack’ under the seat belt, causing the lap belt to ride up over the abdomen and increasing the risk of internal injuries,” IIHS President David Harke said in a statement. ” ,
The 2023 Honda Civic and 2023 Toyota Corolla both earned “Acceptable” ratings, while the 2023 Kia Forte, Nissan Sentra and Subaru Crosstrek all scored “Poor.”
None of the cars earned the highest rating of “Good”.
It’s not just small cars that don’t meet the criteria for the new Moderate Frontal Overlap test. Most of the three-row SUVs and small crossovers tested received a “Poor” rating.
The updated test revisits frontal crash tests that began in 1995 and cements IIHS’ role as the most comprehensive and up-to-date independent automotive crash test agency today.
NHTSA’s NCAP five-star rating system does not currently evaluate driver-assistance technology or update its crash tests after most vehicles meet requirements.
The IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation has become the standard bearer for automotive safety.
The moderate frontal overlap test simulates a head-on collision between two vehicles of similar weight traveling at less than 40 mph.
Updated last year, the new test assesses passenger safety in a frontal crash with rear passengers.
The new test uses a dummy the size of an average adult male in the driver’s seat and another dummy the size of a small female or 12-year-old child, placed in the seat behind the driver Where there have been recent delays in security.
Historically, rear seat occupants were protected from front seat crashes by the front seats and crumple zones in the front.
However, since the 2007 model year, the IIHS found that fatal injuries are 46% higher for rear seat occupants than front seat occupants.
The rear seat is no longer unsafe, but front seat occupant safety has increased due to airbags, restraint technologies and other areas of focus that IIHS would like to see implemented on the seats.
The IIHS says the rear seats are still safest for small children, who are more likely to be injured when riding in the front passenger seat than when protected by an airbag.
The IIHS noted that all five small cars tested provided good driver protection. The passengers in the back seat also did not pay the fare.
Both the Forte, Sentra, and Crosstrek—the three vehicles rated “poor”—showed a moderate to high risk of head, neck and chest injuries on the dummies.
Crash test rear occupant protection is not included in the criteria for Top Safety Pick designations. But the IIHS continues to challenge vehicle manufacturers to better protect vehicle occupants, so this may be a consideration in the future.
Last year, for example, the IIHS instituted a tougher side-impact test to reflect the faster speeds and heavier, taller vehicles that prowl modern highways.