Only one of 11 minicars tested by the Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety won an overall "acceptable" rating in the so-called
small overlap front crash test, the Chevrolet Spark made by General
Motors Co <GM.N>, IIHS said on Wednesday.
The Honda Fit and Fiat 500, made by No. 3 U.S. automaker Chrysler
Group LLC, were the worst performers.
The results prompted Consumer Reports magazine to drop its
recommendation of the Fit on Wednesday. Consumer Reports said,
however, that it expected the upcoming, newly redesigned 2015 Fit to
pass the test "based on the newness of its design and Honda's recent
accomplishments with this stringent test."
In a statement, Honda said it expects the 2015 Fit will earn a "good
rating" on all IIHS tests, including the small overlap front crash
test. The 2015 Fit goes on sale in the United States later this
Separately, Chrysler said the Fiat 500 "meets or exceeds all
government-mandated safety requirements and continues to offer a
high level of protection in four main crash types identified by the
IIHS: side, rollover, rear and moderate-overlap front."
The small overlap front crash test, which was introduced in 2012, is
tougher than head-on crash tests used by the U.S. government,
according to automakers and IIHS, a U.S. nonprofit funded by auto
Four minicar models were rated "marginal," including the 2014 Ford
Fiesta <F.N>. Six were rated "poor," including the Toyota Prius c
<7203.T>. None of the models received the best possible rating of
Both Consumer Reports and IIHS said small, lightweight cars are at a
safety disadvantage because of their size. In a crash with a larger
vehicle, a minicar will absorb more energy but have less crumple
space to absorb the energy of a collision.
"Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage,"
Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president for vehicle research, said in
a statement. "Unfortunately, as a group, minicars aren't performing
as well as other vehicle categories in the small overlap crash."
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Compact cars, which are slightly larger than subcompacts, fared
"much better" on the small overlap front crash test, IIHS said.
The average vehicle made for the 2013 model year weighs 4,041
pounds, while subcompacts can weigh 1,500 pounds less, according to
preliminary federal data.
In the test, part of the car's front end hit a 5-foot rigid barrier
at 40 miles per hour. The vehicles were rated in three areas:
structural integrity, the effectiveness of the restraints and
All the minicars, including the Spark, got a "poor" or "marginal"
rating for structural integrity, which IIHS called "the most
fundamental element of occupant protection." These are the two worst
ratings possible in this test.
Most cars are now built with safety cages that can handle head-on
collisions and other crashes without crushing the driver and others
inside the vehicle.
Small overlap crashes, involving only the small front corner of a
vehicle, affect the outer edges of the car, which are less
protected. In those cases, the front wheel, suspension system and
firewall bear the brunt of the crash, which can lead to serious leg
and foot injuries.
(Editing by Leslie Adler)
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