Mid-Size Cars Struggle in New IIHS Test

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
mid size cars struggle in new iihs test

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has updated its side crash test and the results for mid-size cars is, uh, not good.

Just three of seven mid-size cars earned good or acceptable ratings in the test, with only the Subaru Outback earning a "good" rating. The Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Jetta earned "acceptable marks.

IIHS says that the mid-size cars didn't do as well on the test as small and mid-size SUVs, likely due to their lower ride height.

"With vehicles that sit lower to the ground, the striking barrier hits higher on the door panel,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “That potentially puts sedans and wagons at a disadvantage in this evaluation but reflects what happens in a real-world crash when these vehicles are struck by a higher-riding pickup or SUV.”

The head-protecting airbags for the driver and front passenger did well for the Outback, Sonata, and Jetta, but the driver's pelvis and rear passenger's torso were at higher injury risk in the Jetta. Same for the rear passenger's pelvis in the Sonata.

Honda's Accord scored a marginal rating, while the Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry were all marked as poor.

The IIHS made the test tougher to better reflect what was happening in the real world after research showed that real-life crashes were more severe than what the previous test would indicate.

The updated test uses a heavier barrier -- now up to 4,200 pounds, to better approximate the curb weight of SUVs -- and hits at 37 mph. The previous test involved a 3,300 lb barrier hitting at 31 mph.

IIHS isn't yet using the test in its award criteria. That said, starting in 2023, cars will need a good or acceptable rating on the test in order to be a Top Safety Pick and a good rating to be a Top Safety Pick+.

[Image: Screenshot of IIHS' video]

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  • Skippity Skippity on Aug 06, 2022

    Website is a mess. No tragedy but my comment on this article is gone. Touching "see previous replies" shows the replies but moves the page up to the top of the comments. When on iOS I can see only two or three comments. Touching "see more" does nothing.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on Aug 08, 2022

    IIHS has to stay relevant by changing the rules in mid-stream and then it gets to falsely claim a car is unsafe. Point of fact that most vehicles on the road passed the pre-existing test and that IIHS should only test NEW products to the new test and to let the current models alone. The clown who used to be the face of IIHS was an arrogant little troll who loved to get face time for his arbitrary changes that he imposed.

    I understand things change, but an ethical organization would have a set name for a test and when the test changed, so would the name and the new test could not be imposed upon a vehicle it already tested with the old one. The manufacturer could point to the prior passed test and that would have been ethical. I'm surprised that IIHS hasn't gone back years to show how the new standard would have failed all current vehicles ever made - the cars didn't get less safe, but the test would make you think so.

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