Latest IIHS Crash Tests: Throwing Small Crossovers at the Wall, Seeing What Sticks

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
latest iihs crash tests throwing small crossovers at the wall seeing what sticks

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released new ratings for seven small utility vehicles. For the most part, the pint-sized crossovers performed amicably. However, none of the models were worthy of the group’s coveted “Top Safety Pick Plus” award due to subpar headlamp performance, while a couple of models were found structurally deficient after being confronted with the dreaded small overlap crash test.

Ford’s Escape received an overall poor rating and came away from the test with the worst structural deformation within the group. Senior IIHS research engineer Becky Muller noted that Ford reinforced the diver’s side of the vehicle for the 2017 model year but negated extending that courtesy to passengers.

“Disparities like this one are why we decided to formally rate the passenger side in the small overlap test after five years of evaluating only the driver side,” she explained. “Manufacturers shouldn’t shortchange protection for front-seat passengers.”

At 40 mph, results showed the Escape running a high risk of serious hip injury to front passengers while providing “marginal” passenger restraint. Its side curtain airbags also failed to deploy properly, a problem that also cropped up on the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (RVR in Canada). While the Outlander Sport faired better overall, due to less structural deformation, its lackluster passenger restraint systems were deemed inferior to the Ford.

The rest of the lineup received “good” overall ratings, with the BMW X1 and Mitsubishi Outlander (which is larger than the Outlander Sport) averaging slightly better marks than the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, and Jeep Compass. The larger Outlander also qualified for the IIHS’ standard “Top Safety Pick” distinction.

None of this means we’d want to be seated in one of these vehicles in a head-on collision with a much larger SUV, but it’s good to know where they stand against each other. Still, the most useful tidbit of information comes from the prioritization of driver’s side safety to meet the old testing standard. We imagine Ford will bolster passenger side protection on the Escape for the next production cycle as a direct response to these results. The brand’s F-Series pickup also struggled with small overlap testing in 2015, but Ford ultimately revised the model to achieve superior structural crashworthiness within its segment. For 2018, the F-150 was only out-shined by the Honda Ridgeline in overall protection.

[Images: Institute for Highway Safety]

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  • Epc Epc on Apr 05, 2018

    Ford reinforced only the driver's side of the chassis because that was the side that got tested. VW programmed the diesel emission control to pass only while under government testing. Their behavior is why I laugh whenever I hear a conservative politician or voter complaining the government regulation is too intrusive. At least the conservative politician whines because he gets paid by the industry that is being inconvenienced by regulations. What does the conservative voter get? Does he really want to put his family in a car that was designed and engineered without the Big Brother's supervision? Does he really want to feed his baby with food or medicine that wasn't regulated by FDA? Does he know that he can now breath cleaner air and drink cleaner water while snickering about the smog in China, because of the work that EPA has been doing in the last 40 years? EPA, FDA, NHTSA, OSHA, and the such came into existence not because someone in the government was bored and decided to come up with something to torture the capitalists. They came into existence because the average voter and his family had died in flaming cars, from polluted water, from adulterated medicine, or at dangerous workplace.

  • Kwik_Shift Kwik_Shift 3 days ago

    Important consideration when choosing your next vehicle. Its not only your own death, or of your passengers, but the possible lifetime of crippling injuries.

  • MKizzy The Mazda 6 wagon needs to be brought here pronto. Sexy looks aside, it would look less out of place in Mazda's CUV lineup vs the sedan, and since Mazda wants to go "premium," wagon customers tend to be the most affluent (if Daimer-Benz is to be believed). My second choice is the attractive Hyundai i40 wagon, which would replace the defunct VW Sportwagon in the small/mid size wagon niche.
  • Carlson Fan GM needs new leadership. A 9000lb off-road vehicle???? Don't get that thing stuck in a remote area.Imagine if they had brought back the iconic K5 Blazer name and built something to compete with the Wrangler like Ford did with the Bronco. They could have offered that with an electric power train in addition to the gas models. Ford may have some quality issues right now but whoever is steering that ship knows what they are doing. The Bronco & Maverick where both brilliant ideas.
  • Carlson Fan "But it does give General Motors an opportunity to dangle a diesel in front of the faces of consumers and presumably one that yields better gas mileage than the 6.2-liter V8 they’d otherwise be buying."I'll take the 6.2 thank you. The diesel offers some advantages over gas if you use the truck for towing, lower total cost of ownership isn't one of them. I'll add in the gas engine offers better long term reliability & cold weather performance if you live where it snows like me.
  • Carrera The diesels built during the last 10-15 years, if kept stock, don't really stink at all.
  • MaintenanceCosts I keep finding myself drawn to the Fox PLCs, both the Thunderbird and the Mark VII. They really got the design right by 1980s standards. The cars were reasonably sized but didn't look dinky like the 1986 Eldorado, they were comfortable and drove pretty well, and they were available with a 302 (that even got non-asthmatic in the late years).When I bought my first car - a 1987 Taurus - I also thought about Aerobirds, but I decided (probably correctly, given the number of carpools I was part of) that I wanted four doors.