Only three out of seven vehicles earned a “good” or “acceptable” rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s most recent side-impact crash assessment.
IIHS gave ratings of “good,” “acceptable,” “marginal” and “poor.”
Of the seven vehicles tested, which the IIHS classified as medium-sized, the Subaru Outback was the only one to receive a “good” rating, while the Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Jetta earned “acceptable”. The Honda Accord received a “marginal” rating, and the Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry all earned “poor” ratings. The vehicles were all 2022 models.
The IIHS said the test was updated to replicate more real-world side effects, which account for about 25 percent of passenger vehicle fatalities. The test now uses a 4,200-pound barrier that strikes the vehicle at 37 mph, as opposed to a 3,300-pound barrier hitting the vehicle at 31 mph. The results came after IIHS tested a different batch of medium-sized vehicles this year using updated criteria, and 10 out of 18 vehicles received a “good” rating. Of the 20 “small SUVs” tested under the new criteria last year, only one earned a “good” rating.
IIHS President David Harkey told Automotive News that the low ride height of the latest cohort of vehicles contributed to their poor performance.
“We believe that part of what we’re seeing here is the fact that sedans and midsize cars tend to ride lower on the ground than midsize or smaller-sized SUVs,” Harkey said. “The result of that is that the barrier we’re using now strikes the door of the sedan more, causing more intrusion into the living compartment and increasing the potential for injury. This is not unexpected.”
The IIHS stated that all seven vehicles earned a “good” rating under the basic version of the test.
A 2011 IIHS study found that vehicles that earned a “good” side-impact rating were 70 percent less likely to cause casualties in real-life crash scenarios than vehicles that received a “bad” rating.