Recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which conducts its own independent crash testing of new cars, added the “small overlap test” to its rating procedures. That particular crash test simulates a 40 mph collision wherein the front driver side corner of the car strikes an oncoming car or a fixed object like a utility or light pole. Twenty five percent of highway deaths in head-on collisions are from that type of wreck. The IIHS yesterday released test results for the newly redesigned 2014 Toyota Corolla and the compact sedan only received a “marginal” score. According to Automotive News, the Corolla cannot earn the institute’s Top Safety Pick honors, which are restricted to cars that have “acceptable” or “good” scores on all crash tests.
Since the small overlap crash procedure was implemented last year, Toyota products have fared poorly. The 2013 Camry, Prius V hybrid and RAV4 crossover all earned a “poor” rating. When the IIHS only included traditional front, side and rollover testing in their ratings, Toyota typically has done well, with 21 of their models earning the Top Safety Pick honors for the 2013 model year.
In a statement a Toyota spokesman said that the company is devoted to safety but also questioned whether the new test accurately reflects real world conditions. “When all-new crash tests are introduced by the [IIHS], we need to be confident that the changes needed to accommodate the tests will enhance overall safety in real world crashes,” Toyota spokesman John Hanson said. “Toyota is committed to responding to this challenge as stridently as it has in the past, when met with more demanding and evolving vehicle performance criteria.”
In August, the 2014 Scion tC received an “acceptable” rating in the offset test, but the Corolla results may indicate that the company has work to do on other models. The Corolla’s “marginal” ranking was because the corner of the car was pushed back into the driver’s area, increasing the probability of leg injuries. Also, the crash test dummy’s head moved to the left in the collision, away from the main air bag, which might result in the driver’s head hitting the A pillar or dashboard. Fortunately, the 2014 Corolla is equipped with side curtain airbags, which protected the dummy’s head.
Look for a review of the 2014 Toyota Corolla here at TTAC early next week.