Only two of nine midsized SUVs tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for frontal crash-resistance managed to get a ‘good’ rating, the highest the insurance group provides. General Motors’ Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain were rated ‘good,’ while Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot flunked the crash test as they were all rated as ‘poor.’
Honda’s Pilot was not only rated ‘poor’ but it also scored the least in the overlap crash test as the vehicle can “seriously compromise” a driver. The tests showed that a crash in the Pilot can mean possible injuries to the driver’s left hip, knee and both lower legs.
Of all the 2014 models tested, Toyota Highlander got the second-best ‘acceptable’ rating in the same test, whereas, with the rating of ‘marginal,’ Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner and Ford Explorer just managed to scrape by from flunking the test.
According to the IIHS, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Toyota Highlander are technologically equipped well to prevent, or at least minimize, frontal collisions. The IIHS carries out six crash test measurements before a rating is given of good, acceptable, marginal or poor.
During the IIHS front overlap crash test, which is more challenging than the US government’s frontal crash test, a car’s front driver’s side is made to collide with an object like a tree or a utility pole or another vehicle in an attempt to mimic what may happen in real life at 40 miles per hour.
The overlap frontal test of IIHS is considered more difficult than the straight head-on and moderate crash tests because the structure of the vehicle that would normally manage crash energy is bypassed.
According to the president of IIHS, Adrian Lund, these kinds of crashes, which involve only the front end side of the driver’s side, account for 25 percent of serious injuries in real-life frontal crash accidents. It was also this alarming figure that convinced IIHS to introduce the new front overlap crash test in 2012.
Once the ratings are revealed, the institute uses the test scores to ask car manufacturers to make their cars more crash resistant by making appropriate improvements and adding additional safety devices to their vehicles.
Referring to the Honda, Mazda and Kia cars that flunked the crash test, researchers at the IIHS said that these cars need to improve their vehicles’ occupant compartments and make them stronger so that they do not collapse against the force that hits a car during a crash.
Along with the ratings, the institute also announces its “Top Safety Pick-Plus” every year, which the rest of the industry goes by. This year only the Equinox, Terrain and Highlander got the title. To earn this title, cars tested by the institute must obtain a ‘good’ rating in four crash tests and ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’ in the overlap frontal test. The vehicles must also have a crash prevention system in place that would warn the driver of a potential crash or automatically brake the car to avoid the possible accident.
While the ‘good’ rating of General Motors’ Equinox and Terrain has come at a great time for the firm – General Motors is facing serious scandal over ignition malfunctions dating back from 2001 in some of its car models – the ‘poor’ rating for Mazda, Kia and Honda has come as a blow to all three firms as they have had car recalls at some point or another in recent history.
Meanwhile, Consumer Reports, a leading influential magazine, dropped Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot from their recommended cars list after these three vehicles flunked the crash test. The magazine said that since these three vehicles do not reflect quality safety standards and best competition standards, they had decided to drop these vehicles.
Nevertheless, despite Honda, Mazda and Kia flunking the crash test and the majority of the other SUVs performance below expectations, the IIHS said that SUVs have gotten much safer over the past twenty years.
By Faryal Najeeb