[VIDEO] IIHS: Some Small Cars “Struggle” With Crash Test

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iihs-small-car-crash-test-3-bestrideThe Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently posted ratings for small cars in small overlap front crash tests.

Out of 12 small cars tested, only the Mini Countryman earned the top rating of “Good.”

Nissan Leaf, Nissan Juke, Mazda5 and Fiat 500L all earned the lowest rating of “Poor.”

Nissan Leaf and Mazda5 lose their “recommended” status from Consumer Reports.


The 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, Mazda5; 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.

IIHS-crash-test-small-car-1-bestrideIn 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.

As you can imagine, 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. 

Yet, crashes just like this happen every day. Drivers drift out of their lane into oncoming traffic at a combined speed of 40 miles per hour, or they strike solid objects like trees and rocks when their cars leave the road in single-vehicle accidents.

The results of the crash are dramatic. The IIHS posted the video earlier today:

Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald

Writer, editor, lousy guitar player, dad. Content Marketing and Publication Manager at BestRide.com.

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