By on July 12, 2013
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The 2013 Toyota RAV4, which underwent a major redesign earlier this year, was saddled with a “Poor” rating in the IIHS’ “small overlap” front crash test, the lowest designation possible.

The test, introduced last year, shows how vehicles handle a 40 mph impact with a 25 percent frontal overlap with a 5-foot tall barrier. A statement released by the IIHS outlines the fairly horrific sounding results of the crash test.

“The driver’s space was seriously compromised by intruding structure, and the dummy’s left foot was trapped by crushed and buckled sheet metal in the footwell. Injury measures on the dummy indicated a high risk of injury to the lower left leg. The dummy’s head barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off the left side as the steering column moved more than 7 inches to the right, resulting in little airbag cushioning for the chest. Additionally, the safety belt allowed excessive forward movement of the dummy’s head and torso, contributing to the head hitting the instrument panel.”

The RAV4 is hardly alone is performing poorly in this test. The Buick Encore, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Patriot and Kia Sportage all performed “poorly”. The BMW X1, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Jeep Wrangler and Volkswagen Tiguan received “Marginal” ratings. The only vehicle that did well as the 2013 Subaru Forester. And yet somehow, a number of these vehicles are rated as a “Top Safety Pick” despite apparently being able to injure you severely in a crash that is quite common.

The poor performance of these vehicles has a fair amount of relevance in the real world. A recent report in Road & Track looked at offset front crashes and found that they are often fatal, especially at speeds of 40 mph. Many vehicle safety systems are designed with a full-on front crash in mind, but not the sort of offset collision the IIHS is testing for here – which happens to be fairly prevalent in real life. The 25 percent overlap crash, if it occurred in real life, would be particularly dangerous according to  R&T. With that kind of impact, the frame rails play no part in helping the car to decelerate, and that means a much more violent impact for anyone inside the car.

Only a quarter of the mass ahead of the safety cell remains to absorb the impact, and that’s not enough. The impact then pushes right through the front wheel, driving the suspension backwards. Depending on the vehicle and its speed, this could collapse the steering column, buckle the A pillar (pushing it back toward the driver or front passenger), and if the accident is severe enough, begin to crimp the door frame, front floor section, and door rail.

Despite the general unhappiness surrounding the increasing size and mass of new vehicles, a lot of it has to do with safety and crash protection. This can only be seen as a positive: car accidents are violent, traumatic events that can cause horrific injuries or death for those involved. It seems as if improving the performance of vehicles on these overlap tests should be a priority in the next generation of safety improvements for vehicles, given the prevalence of these crashes and how dangerous they can be to those inside the car. How those changes would impact vehicle design and engineering is something I’d like to know more about, but unfortunately, I lack the engineering/design/regulatory background to make any kind of prediction.

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66 Comments on “Is It Time To Demand Better Performance On Overlap Crash Tests?...”


  • avatar

    Every crash is different. No two crashes happen at the same speed, same angle, same surface area, same vehicle mass, etc. Therefore crash testing is nothing more than a reasonable assumption of how a crash will effect vehicle inhabitants.

    This is one reason I love big cars instead of cramped ecoboxes. If it’s your time to go, it’s your time, but you’d have to hit me with a tank to hurt me in my cars.

    I took a friend looking for a Rav4 months ago. I’d never taken a close look at the RAV4 before, but it was easy to see that the new Rav4 wasn’t as awesome as the old one. It appeared you couldn’t even get the mounted spare tire on the new one. That gave the old model character. Toyota’s interior choices are BLAND. I took her over to Hyundai and showed her the Sportage. It was easily a nicer truck.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      “but you’d have to hit me with a tank to hurt me in my cars.”

      One would hope other drivers would oblige you by running into the parts of your cars that have extra mass.

      A smart car into the driver’s door? Been nice knowing you.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Yeah, but I think he’s still got a better chance in a big car rather than an econobox, ceteris paribus. (Ie, a modern one of each, not a 1975 Town Car vs. this year’s Golf.)

        The whole car has mass – how much it helps you depends on the rigidity of the coupling (and the effectiveness of crumple zones in absorbing impact).

        I think the really important takeaway here is that it is *impossible* to make a car that performs very well in all crash tests, and also have anyone be able to afford it or to put fuel on it.

        Life is compromise, and all cars sold today are – as I understand if – FAR safer than the safest car on the road 20 years ago. Possibly even 10.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      You’re apparently the only one that misses the rear mounted spare. (Besides thieves.) It had to go when making the change to an overhead opening rear hatch from the rear door.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        No, I liked it too. I never understood the Consumer Reports et al. ad nauseum complaint about the inconvenience of opening a side-hinged door when parallel parked, since 99% of the time these things are parked in traditional parking lots.

        • 0 avatar
          ixim

          That rear-mounted spare left more room inside. It’s full size, too, on a matching wheel. Subjectively, it adds character too. HOWEVER – The fragile and expensive to replace painted-to-match plastic cover adds length; it required that side-swinging door which cannot be left opened for long cargo. 8-foot lumber rests against the dash! Toyota service always resisted a 5-wheel tire rotation when asked. It won’t be missed by me. I don’t agree with the “greatly improved” claim for the 2013 model – the basic body is unchanged; the content and interior upgrades are barely competitive with the Honda, Hyundai, Ford and GM competition. But, what do I know? RAV4 sales are up. Incentives are down. I’m leaning Equinox right now.

          • 0 avatar
            Freddy M

            Agree on the Subjective aspect. Rear mounted hinged Spares IMO only work on SUV/CUV’s that are designed to look rugged, off-roadish. On today’s curvy mommy mobiles, they look absolutely off-putting, hence why they don’t include them anymore outside of the convenience factor.

            A particularly horrible example is the option for the rear mounted spare on the Porsche Cayenne. Doug DeMuro exemplified this in a post on his site. My god it was a horrific sight to behold.

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          True enough about parking lots, but it was a flop for curbside parking. They put the handle on the left side so access from the sidewalk was blocked if there was a car behind you. Thus making you walk around the front of the RAV to load the back. (Assuming there was enough space behind you to open the door in the first place.) It probably worked better in Japan where you drive and park on the left. Regardless, the whole design is a no-go for me as I occasionally bring home long loads and need to be able to lash down a mostly closed hatch.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Well for one thing, some of the side-opening doors were hinged inappropriately. My friend’s 2004 Lexus GX 470 has a side-swinging rear door which opens to the left, making curbside loading a real hassle. They don’t appear to have fixed this with the 2010-present GX 460, either. I suspect it might be because the GX is sold in RHD markets as the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, but still…

    • 0 avatar
      IndianaDriver

      I looked at the new Rav4 too, but decided not to get it. You don’t necessarily need a big vehicle like you are talking about, just one that is designed to protect you well. The problem with the IIHS Top Safety Pick designation for small SUVs is that too many of them have it. How can the new Rav4 fail this offset test and still keep saying it’s a Top Safety Pick? The only 2 small SUVs that passed the new offset test were the 2014 Subaru Forester and the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport…so Subaru and Mitsubishi should be the only ones who still get to say they are a Top Safety Pick in the small SUV category. Using the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick + designations is too confusing to the average consumer.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I suppose it’s to give the automakers some mercy for failing this new test, but it’ll potentially take hundreds of millions of dollars to put the cars right. I don’t foresee the RAV4 becoming safer until the next generation debuts.

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          That’s not true. Toyota can modify the structure to do well. What doesn’t get publicized is that cars like the Altima and Fusion, which got acceptables in their test include little asterisks that say that the tests only apply to vehicles manufactured after a certain date. The Fusion was modified after December 2012 production dates. Toyota can easily make rolling changes to their cars, and my suspicion is that they are. They do care about their reputation. Honda also modified the 2013 Civic to do better in it, implying the maligned 2012 wouldn’t have fared so well.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “How can the new Rav4 fail this offset test and still keep saying it’s a Top Safety Pick?”

        Did anything else do better?

        “Top Safety Pick” can easily just mean “in the top Ntile of cars”, not “As Safe As Possible”.

        As always, “safe car” is a relative, perceptual thing. No car is ever – can ever be – “safe” in an absolute sense.

        I’d bet on today’s Rav4 (echo of previous comment above) over literally *any vehicle on the road* in 1998, for instance, in terms of safety… and we did not believe we were riding in death-traps back then.

        (There might be some amazing 1998 vehicle that would beat it and make me lose my bet but … not many.)

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    This test is getting close to the line of reason. By focusing the crash force on a small area so far offset to the centre of gravity, it results in significant tearing damage and vehicle movement off-axis.

    It looks like some improvements may be possible, but it is also possible to devise yet another test where many vehicles perform poorly. Say they come up with one based on rear-ending a logging truck.

    BigTruck may want to only drive Escalades and larger, but I don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I’d agree except the IIHS developed this crash test because they were seeing a significant number of this type of wreck in the real world. They weren’t just devising kooky ways of destroying a vehicle.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m sort of wondering about the soundness of their stats. I remember the days when rollovers were all the rage. It may be possible that this is a real whack-a-mole, as some kind of crash always takes the cookie depending on the today’s safety tech.

        • 0 avatar
          econobiker

          The IIHS sole goal is to reduce monetary cost of accidents for the insurance companies funding the IIHS.

          The IIHS does not give a hoot about fuel economy, vehicle weight (unless contributing to safety issue), vehicle drivability, vehicle styling, driver training, etc.

          The organization is focusing on increasingly small elements of crashes in order to root out continuing costs for its funding companies.

          • 0 avatar
            Skink

            The IIHS does give a hoot, and a bigger hoot it is vs. the manufacturers’ hoots, over injuries. Because injuries are expensive. For us, the driving public, injuries hurt, and they disfigure, and they disable, and they kill.

            By doing these tests and alerting the public to the results, IIHS is doing a great public service. Without these efforts by IIHS, manufacturers wouldn’t be shamed into making the changes they now make in order to score well.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            That’s all true, but is a 40 MPH crash into a 5 foot high rigid barrier tell you anything? My gut feeling is that the test is a partial head-on crash, the most destructive of all crashes, that isn’t all that common, thankfully, but results in huge insurance payouts.

            It’s curious that the Forester’s front end structure allowed a better result, but that might be nothing more than the low center of gravity of the flat four allowing the force of impact to be directed under the passenger compartment. Other drive trains may be much more difficult and expensive to redesign to achieve that result.

            The bottom line is, does the test measure for a common real-world possibility, or a rare offset of a head-on collision that’s impossible to design for safety, short of building a tank?

          • 0 avatar
            Freddy M

            @Lorenzo

            Could this also be representative of a rear-end crash into a tractor trailer? Although in that scenario much of the lower part of the car would slide underneath it I suppose.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            I think the whack-a-mole analogy is somewhat apt. They do have data that shows a significant percentage of deaths occur due to this type of accident. However, I seems probable that this is the case because deaths due to other accident types have been reduced; they are simply focusing on the next bar on the Pareto chart.

            Vehicles *have* gotten safer specifically to meet crash standards, but they predominantly get safer in ways to pass the tests. Thus, since this is a new test, the vehicles aren’t passing it. If the test remains, the next redesigns will address it. Then the IIHS will grab the next crash type off the Pareto chart and crack down on it, and the cycle will continue. I can’t disagree that this approach does improve quality & safety, but as a Demotivator says: “The race for quality has no finish line–so technically, it’s more like a death march.”

            Risk cannot be completely eliminated, and the effort to do so becomes increasing costly. At some point, it’s not worth it anymore. The NHTSA recognized that with back-up cameras and so have delayed (again) making a requirement. (There are only 300 deaths/yr that it would address, and their estimated cost/life saved = ~$18M.)

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Redav said: ” The NHTSA recognized that with back-up cameras and so have delayed (again) making a requirement. (There are only 300 deaths/yr that it would address, and their estimated cost/life saved = ~$18M.)”

            Damned right – though the funny thing is, while I agree that rearview cameras shouldn’t be *required*, at this point I won’t buy a newish car without one (or a plan to retrofit one).

            Not because “deaths!” but because newish cars tend to have such horrible rear visibility that I just don’t want to smack into another car in the parking lot…

            (If designs change such that rear visibility exists again, that will change…)

        • 0 avatar
          210delray

          In this test, the powertrain is bypassed completely; even the driver side frame rail (or equivalent in unibody vehicles) is bypassed, so I don’t think Subaru’s boxer 4 provides any inherent advantage. Besides, cars with transverse inline 4s and even Volvo’s transverse inline 6 did well in the test.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Is this new offset test only performed on vehicles designed before the test was announced? It seems pretty unfair to slap poor and marginal scores on vehicles that weren’t designed with this test in mind (i.e. Rogue, Wrangler, Tiguan). Surely manufacturers are given notice way before a new crash test or regulation is introduced. I can’t believe so many manufacturers would just lay down and take it with poor test scores, unless it didn’t make sense to re-engineer to perform well in this test.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Usually, they are testing cars that were well into design phase before the test was revealed, but they aren’t impacting “top safety pick” with the results of the small overlap test. Basically, they aren’t dinging the manufacturer’s rating, but the data is out there to pretty well assume that anything designed for the MY12 and older will do poorly on the small overlap test.

      The Rav being a new model in MY13, though, and doing poorly on this test does not bode well. IIRC, the Camry, designed in MY12, did poorly on this test while the Avalon, designed new for MY13, did well on the test. Where was the disconnect on the Rav redesign that they weren’t ready for this? I’m sure all the manufacturers have teams working through design changes for this new test, though.

    • 0 avatar
      08Suzuki

      Like I said on another post (which apparently ended up being far more controversial than intended) this was the result of new crash data that the IIHS gathered, hence doing this new test in the first place. Older cars won’t do well because they were designed before this crash test data was anticipated as being important. Probably by the 15 or even 16 MY will we finally seeing most cars get acceptable or good ratings. In the meantime, even cars just coming into the showroom now may be considered obsolete from a safety perspective. Remember, designing things takes time.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’m not terribly concerned.

  • avatar
    Tostik

    So far the two Volvos that have been tested in the ‘Small Overlap” Test, the S60 and the XC60, have gotten a ‘good’ rating, and, as you might expect, Volvo is the only car company that’s a 100% with ‘good’ ratings on this new test. The IIHS first said that no one has been testing their cars this way, then later said that Volvo has been doing testing like this since 1984!

    • 0 avatar
      pb35

      ..And this is precisely why my family rides in a Volvo. When people say “b-but every other manufacturer has caught up in safety” it’s tests like these that prove that is clearly not the case.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I have similar thoughts with my 240 that I will probably be driving for the next decade or so part time. I’ve driven the gen 1 S60 and gen 1 S80 but besides the trans problems they’ve had I don’t think they are big enough inside vs the 240. Maybe the XC wagons are bigger.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          On the other hand, while that 240 was overdesigned for the safety requirements of its year of production … I bet today’s Rav4 would beat it handily across the board.

          (I mean, I don’t worry about how “dangerous” my ’76 Merc is, but I can’t pretend it’s “safe” like a modern car – it’s just not a deathtrap like a car from the 60s with no crumple zones or shoulder belts or headrests. It’s a safer deathtrap.

          And today’s Volvos will doubtless have people gasping in horror at how “dangerous” they are, in 20 years.

          Life’s a risk, and one that is not reducible to zero. So we live with it.)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Well put.

          • 0 avatar
            Tostik

            I’ve seen a couple of videos lately where they crashed an old Volvo into a modern vehicle, and, while the old Volvos came off worse, I’m really surprised at how well they did. And I’m not sure that the modern Rav4 would beat a 240 “across the board” in safety, especially in the “small overlap” test, because Volvo has been doing small overlap testing since 1984. My wife drives a 1998 V70XC and absolutely refuses to part with it. It’s been garaged and pampered and is in pristine condition. But if were any other brand from ’98, I would be very uncomfortable with the safety, and would insist she get a modern car.

      • 0 avatar
        Tostik

        My family too. No one has crash test facilities like Volvo, and more “surprise” testing by the IIHS would make Volvo shine all the more.

  • avatar
    NVHGuru

    This is an extremely severe test and modifying an existing vehicle structure to meet it is almost impossible as the frame rails need to be re-designed, in most cases. As the front rails are a key attachment for the suspension and powertrain the knock-on effect of changes is huge. Every OEM out there is working hard to make sure their next vehicles meet the requirements by stiffening the bumper structure to better transfer the load into the frame and directing the energy around the passenger cell.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      That is one approach. Another is to better restrain the people. One reason there is so much injury is because the severe side thrust causes them to miss the airbag completely at the same time their body is forced into the path of the collapsing wheel. If the people can be prevented from moving in such a way, the injury results will dramatically improve.

      (Of course, a better designed structure that absorbs more energy makes everything better & easier for the people to survive.)

      • 0 avatar
        George Herbert

        This one is most dangerous because of two things:

        One, the front airbag often doesn’t keep your head from hitting the A-pillar if the steering column shifts, and the front side airbag may not be enough to help there.

        Two, the tire’s too stiff and it and the suspension are being pushed back into the footwell, crushing the drivers’ left foot and leg and often trapping the driver.

        Both of these are subtle but very important. Beefing up the wheel well area is heavy but not that heavy, and fixes #2, as do various games with suspension mounts etc to try and contain or direct tire movement under impact. Airbag design details will help with #1, as will making the steering column more stiffly mounted to the firewall and having a breakpoint forwards of it (not just the traditional collapsing column, but one intended to shear if there’s lateral force…).

        #1′s ultimate fix would be better seats and seat restraints, but the current rules don’t appear to let manufacturers do that, and assume people will not wear them. Stiff seats and 4, 5, or 6 point harnesses for mere civilians – especially with shoulder belt airbags big enough to help contain head side movement and slow down frontal movement – would be huge improvements, if legal to ship that way.

  • avatar
    Skink

    It’s the 2014 Subaru Forester, and so far, ONLY the 2014 Forester that has earned the highest rating available in the offset crash test for vehicles in its class.

    When these test results were first released and for a while after that, the result for the RAV-4 was withheld pending, we were told, Toyota modifying the RAV-4 to do better on the test. Now this. Kreindler writes the 2013 underwent a ‘major redesign’. Is this the result of IIHS testing on the 2013 RAV-4? Are there really two different versions of the 2013 RAV-4, the latest a response to the IIHS offset test? And if Toyota did re-engineer the 2013 RAV-4 as Kreindler writes, then it’s pretty bad news to still get a ‘poor’ rating after the re-engineering effort.

    Maybe Kreindler instead meant to write that the RAV-4 was re-engineered for the 2013 model year. We all know tht’s true.

    What remains unclear is why the RAV-4 offset test results were withheld until now, if Toyota didn’t re-engineer the 2013 RAV-4 in the meantime after all.

    *Now that I’ve read the IIHS release, my questions have been largely answered. Apparently Toyota made some minor tweaks on the fly to the steering attachment and added padding under the carpet, but that wasn’t enough to avoid the ‘Poor’ rating.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Not surprising that those vehicles that were not designed for this test did poorly. Some are going to beat the diminishing returns drum and say how this is just more regulatory burden, but clearly there is evidence that this very scenario is causing preventable injury and death. I think this is a good example of identifying a problem and the industry will work toward a solution. There may be no way to reduce the risk as much as was possible in full frontal crashes, but this will spur progress and safe lives.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    A lot of the arguments against the validity of this test are the exact some ones that were used against the use of offset tests back in the 90s.

    My main concern is that the reaction to the airbag/steering column moving issue is that manufacturers are going to step up moving to fully electronic steering – as in no column at all and steering feedback artificially generated like an XBOX controller.
    After driving a car with electronic power steering even that made me feel like I didn’t have total control over the direction the car was going.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      “After driving a car with electronic power steering even that made me feel like I didn’t have total control over the direction the car was going.”

      Heck, there are plenty of hydraulic-assist systems that produce the same poor feeling of control.

      In time EPS will improve across the board. Some manufacturers have EPS tuned very well, in fact. In the endless quest for greater efficiency, reliability, cost cutting, flexibility and design simplification, EPS is the way to go and manufacturers really don’t have a choice except to get it right.

  • avatar
    wmba

    This is not an official NHTSA test, but one dreamed up by the Insurance Institure. I think it should be an official test, since drivers tend to wrench the steering wheel at the last Omigod instant, giving this 25% overlap crash.

    The UNECE tests don’t come close to requiring this level of protection, don’t even have rollover roof crush tests. Useless.

    Congrats to Volvo, Subaru and Honda. They did well in these tests. VW products did not, as apparently neither did Toyota. Remember when the roof crush test came out in 2008? The Camry wasn’t too good at that, surprising everyone.

    • 0 avatar
      Tostik

      The roof strength tests “surprised” a lot of car companies, like this test did–I remember. And Subaru and Honda have done well in this testing, but only Volvo is a 100% for getting a ‘good’ rating. Both Volvos tested, the XC60 and the S60, got a ‘good’.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      The NHTSA isn’t magically better than the IIHS; hell, the IIHS has better *incentives* to test well, since it represents cash on the table. Insurance companies don’t want to pay out to your next of kin when you die in a crash. NHTSA doesn’t care if you live or die, so to speak. (I mean, sure. But no skin in the game.)

      Plus, while you’re right that few people hit a 25% offset 5 foot wall at 40mph, people DO hit phone poles or other cars with an offset, so it at least resembles a sort of impact that happens in the real world.

      Especially since they said that the reason for the test was seeing fatalities from such impacts…

  • avatar
    210delray

    Regarding the Camry roof test, the first model tested was the 2007-11 generation, and it earned the highest rating of Good. The current Camry also earned a Good score; however, said Camry was Poor in the small overlap frontal test.

    With regard to this new test, manufacturers will respond by developing front end structures in the manner of Honda’s ACE (Advanced Compatibility Engineering) design. There will be no need to eliminate the traditional steering column, which remained stable in the Accord and Civic tests.

    Band-aids like Toyota’s on the latest RAV4 generally don’t work out so well; more involved design improvements generally must be made, which as noted, are harder to accomplish until the next vehicle generation is introduced.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    This is a valid test demonstrating a real hazard in an all too realistic scenario. Carmakers have done a pretty good job designing cars to survive a full frontal impact; when you have the entire front structure to use as an energy absorption system it’s relatively easy. With the data now available it turns out that the cars have been designed for the wrong hazard.

    I’d much rather see the car companies spending their R&D money improving vehicle structure in this regard than wasting money trying to remove the last molecule of pollution from exhaust or reinventing the air conditioner, to say nothing of creating the next generation of touch screen interfaces to provide me with features I don’t need.

  • avatar

    Surprised nobody mentioned this yet: the best car for this test is a Wrangler with off-road bumper, because it transfers the force to the frame, hopefuly.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      It would be interesting to see how a Wrangler with a factory-installed “beefy” bumper such as the Call-of-duty edition (with its AEV designed bumper) or the new Rubicon 10th anniversary model with the metal bumper perform versus the standard plastic covered bumper on most Wranglers. Unfortunately, IIHS usually tests pretty basic models and doesn’t spring for stuff like seat airbags/side airbags (or beefy bumpers!) if they are optional.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    At some point we are going to have diminishing returns in crash survivability. If you engineer a safety cage that doesn’t buckle an inch, you still have to deal with accelerative forces tearing organs from their moorings.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the real future in crash survivability are electronic aids that automatically wrest control of the car from the driver to avoid an impending serious wreck. You can already see it with ESC, blind spot monitoring, and automatic low-speed braking.

  • avatar
    eamiller

    Keep in mind, full frontal barrier tests have never been about the structure of the vehicle, but rather about the restraint systems. Full frontal barrier tests are into a non-deformable concrete barrier, which transmits a huge amount of crash energy to the passengers and strains the restraints.

    There were documented NHTSA tests from the 70s and 80s where the seatbelts broke from the forces in the standard barrier test.

    Offset crash tests are more about the structure of the vehicle. They are complementary tests.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Sounds like we need to revive the perimeter frame that postwar Hudsons had. Makes it a pain to change the tires, but who does that anymore? :p

    • 0 avatar
      George Herbert

      Perimeter frame helps until the frame collapses in collision, then you have the tire being pushed in again and need an internal block or frame to keep it off the driver’s legs.

  • avatar
    mored

    I think that this is a good test. The IIHS studied crash data and determined that this time of accident had a higher than average injury/death rate. If you go to their website, they have accident statistics that tell the average amount of money that the insurnce industry spent for every car. I thought it was very interesting that there seems to be a direct correlation between vehicles that perform well in their tests and the amount of money that the insurance companies had to pay for bodily injury.

  • avatar
    mktimes5

    I think SUVs or CUVs are just built cheaper than a car counterpart / but they sell like mad just cuz its an suv so no1 notices.

  • avatar
    vaujot

    The timing of this article is ironic. After all, unless I am terribly mistaken, Bertel’s infamous dyke-article was about the overlap crash test performance of the Subaru in comparison to its competitors.

  • avatar
    vaujot

    are my comments being moderated?

    Edit: apparently not. A previous comment didn’t appear, in which I noted the irony of this article’s timing, given that Bertel’s unfortunate post about the Subaru doing well in small overlap testing started this whole trouble.

  • avatar
    ambulancechaser

    About the Toyota Rav-4 and why I am so happy to have purchased a 2012 model just last year. First, I love the full size spare mounted on the back of the car. My wife was recently in a remote part of Northern Canada and had a puncture. Lucky she had a full size spare as the only local supply of tires where for full size pick-ups. She made it back home without an interuption to her trip and we replaced the punctured tire then. Second, I stand 6’4″. I don’t hit my head on a sideways swinging door. I do hit my head on anything else. Third. I have the last of the 3.5 Litre V6 Rav-4s. It is so quick and yet returns very good economy for such a powerful engine. Freinds of ours have a new Ford Escape with the 1.6 turbo. They hate it. The often complain that because they are always on the boost, they are quick to drain its very small fuel tank and have yet to realize the “eco” advantages the powertrain promised. Fourth? It looks great. I own a darm metallic grey V6 sport model with dark 18″ alloys and tinted windows. It looks aggressive! I could go on, there is so much to like about the previous generation of the Rav-4. They were doomed to screw it up for the current model.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This is a scary test. My initial reaction was that it’s too onerous, but since this sort of impact occurs with some regularity, I’m sure cars can be made to deal with it.

    Since alcohol plays a role in about 1/3 of traffic deaths each year, I wonder what percentage of the alcohol-related accidents are precisely this type (25% offset, due to drifting over the center of the road)?

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Note, though, that a partial head-on with a car is significantly different than this.

      This is against an immovable concrete barrier; a car-on-car wreck with the same delta-v is far less onerous since the other car is *also* absorbing impact* by deformation, and can be moved…

      IIHS doesn’t do one these days (I believe because it’s so well-established or covered by the NHTSA tests), but it is different, as I understand it…

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Unlike (apparently) Toyota, Subaru paid attention to this ’12 test’s introduction when designing the ’14 Forester. If you look inside the ’14 Forester engine bay, you’ll find two substantial frame rails stretching from firewall to bumper frame, angled outward to help catch a narrow-width frontal collision.

    FYI, Volvos deform a bit less than Subaru, while both are far better than anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      kurtamaxxguy

      …and looking very closely at the Subaru crash, it showed the narrow frontal impact just missing the left frame rail, but apparently enough resistance from suspension, other components and the firewall/A pillar structure kept passenger compartment from collapsing.

  • avatar

    And why does the lowly Forester keep out-performing year after year?? It’s lighter and smaller!


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