For the first time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a series of tests on small cars in a bid to deduce how those vehicles would fare in overlap accidents, which is what happens when the front corner of a vehicle is the contact point for a crash. For half of all those cars that were tested, the results weren’t great.
The IIHS put a dozen cars through the rigors of this new test, and of those, five vehicles of the 2013 model year and one 2014 automobile were only able to achieve a marginal or a poor rating. The Volkswagen Beetle and the Chevy Cruze and Sonic received the former distinction, while the Nissan Sentra and Kia Forte (2014) and Soul obtained the dubious honor of achieving a poor rating.
The new test was deemed necessary due to the IIHS’s estimate that one in four serious collisions involve a leading corner of a vehicle hitting a stationary object or another car. Research into the impact of such crashes was initiated by the IIHS in 2009, and this year, the new test joined front, rear, side, and rollover crash testing by the organization.
A Kelley Blue Book analyst noted that the timeframe for test finalization did not allow for changes to current vehicles but that adaptations would be made to accommodate the test in the future. In the most dangerous situations, the cars tested in the new way saw inappropriate airbag movement, collapse of safety cages, and side airbag non-deployment.