IIHS Posts Its Crash Ratings for Small Cars – Mini Countryman Scored the Highest

Posted by at 3:53 pm on July 30, 2014

IIHS-crash-test-small-car-1-bestrideThe Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released its crash test ratings on 12 new small cars. Joe Nolan, IIHS Senior Vice President, Vehicle Research, noted that the results ran the gamut from the best rating of “Good,” to the worst rating of “Poor,” and that some small cars continue to “struggle” with the IIHS small overlap front crash test.

Only the Mini Countryman scored the highest IIHS rating of “Good.”


The other cars tested fell into the following categories:


Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max Hybrid, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ.


Hyundai Veloster; Scion xB


Nissan Leaf, Nissan Juke, Mazda 5; Fiat 500L

The most alarming comment regarded the Nissan Leaf. In the Leaf’s footwell, the parking brake pedal moved 12 inches toward the driver, presenting a danger to the driver’s legs. The Leaf and the Mazda5 fared so poorly that both cars lost their recommended status from Consumer Reports.

The small overlap test is relatively new at the IIHS — initiated in 2012 — but it is purported to be a much more real-world crash test than the full-frontal crash test that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs, or even the moderate overlap test the IIHS performs.

In the small overlap test, the test car hits a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at a speed of 40 miles per hour. Only a quarter of the vehicle’s frontal surface hits the barrier on the driver side.

Twenty-five percent of the total width of the vehicle strikes the barrier on the driver side.

Now, designing a car to absorb crash energy from a full-frontal crash test is completely different than designing a car to better absorb crash energy directed at just a quarter of the frontal area.

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