Everyone wants to drive a safe car and crash tests are one of the biggest factors buyers use in determining if their new car is safe. Despite the importance of crash tests and the weight they carry in the US, the same isn’t true in other countries. There are zero star cars out there, like the Nissan Tsuru, which is finally being pulled from the market in Mexico.
The Tsuru is a rebadged Nissan Sentra, but not the same Sentra you’ll find for sale today in the US. This is the version of the Sentra that went on sale back in 1992 when safety standards were considerably different. With a design dating back that far, it’s one of the longest-lived vehicles still in production.
You can get more recent versions of the Sentra in Mexico, but the Tsuru is popular as a cheaper alternative. They’re especially popular with taxi drivers, but you’ll find them everywhere. It’s one of the top-selling cars in Mexico. That doesn’t mean it’s even remotely safe, so it’s good news that it’s finally being axed.
Safety regulations are different in Mexico so you can save a few bucks and buy a car without airbags. The Tsuru is one such model and its lack of airbags helped it earn a zero star rating from the Latin New Car Assessment Program.
The IIHS conducted a car-to-car crash test with the 2015 Nissan Tsuru sold in Mexico and the 2016 Nissan Versa sold in the US to show the dramatic difference in safety standards. The Versa, despite being a small car, earned a Good rating or the equivalent of five stars. The Tsuru earned zero stars.
They staged a 50% overlap test at a speed of 80mph and the results are nothing short of horrific. Since there’s no airbag in the Tsuru, the driver’s head smacks not just the steering wheel, but the windshield pillar. The driver is pretty much crushed and passengers don’t fare much better. The entire center stack shoots out of the dashboard into the passenger compartment.
Compare this to what happens to the Versa and you’ll breathe a little easier next time you get into your own car. Airbags protect the driver, the center stack stays put, and the frame of the car holds so the driver isn’t crushed in his seat.
Nissan isn’t breaking any laws by having the Tsuru on the road in Mexico. The car is completely legal because Mexico doesn’t have the same safety standards that we have in the US. Nissan voluntarily pulled the car from the market.
Score one for safety, but without improved regulations in countries like Mexico, there are still zero-star cars on the road that pose an unnecessary danger in the event of a crash.