Small SUVs Struggle in Crash Tests
June 26, 2018
Two popular small 2018 SUVs did not do well in recent front impact crash testing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave a marginal rating to the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, while the Ford Escape received the lowest rating of poor. The IIHS is a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to reducing losses from motor vehicle accidents. It is funded by automobile insurance companies.
In front impact testing, both vehicles permitted too much intrusion into the passenger side of the car. The intrusion on the Ford Escape was a whopping 10 inches on the passenger side, which would likely result in hip injuries if a person, rather than a crash test dummy, was sitting in the passenger seat. Side curtain airbags did not deploy during tests in both vehicles.
Front Impact Crash Test
Front impact crash testing consists of forcing vehicles to collide with a solid, 5-foot barrier at 40 miles per hour. The idea is to mimic the crash of a car with a telephone pole, tree, or other fixed, solid object. The test involves hitting the barrier with one-quarter of the vehicle’s width on the passenger side.
Ford Avoids Passenger Side Structural Changes
According to the IIHS, Ford began strengthening the structure of the Escape model on the driver’s side as of 2017 but did not extend strengthening to the passenger side of the vehicle. In the crash test, the driver’s side received only 5 inches of intrusion, half the amount of the passenger side. Ford states that in other IIHS crash tests, the Escape model has earned a good rating.
Acceptable Small SUVs
Not every SUV tested performed badly in the front impact crash test. These deemed good by the IIHS include the Jeep Compass, the GMC Terrain, the Chevrolet Equinox, the BMW X1, and the Mitsubishi Outlander. It is the Sport model of the latter vehicle receiving the marginal grade. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport model is smaller than the Mitsubishi Outlander. The Sport model is designed to carry a maximum of five passengers, while the standard Outlander can carry seven people.
None of the small SUVs earned the overall good rating in the structure category. Here, all the vehicles received an acceptable rating, apart from the Ford Escape and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.
The IIHS named the Mitsubishi Outlander as a Top Safety Pick, which is not its highest rating. That rating goes to those vehicles rated Top Safety Pick+, but none of the small SUVs received that rating. Several larger SUVs were rated as Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS. The IIHS states that the primary reason no smaller SUVs received its top rating was because all of them fell short of the best rating for headlights.
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