Small SUVs Struggle in Front Crash Prevention Tests

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has revised its vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention test, raising the bar to include high-speed impacts and collisions involving motorcycles and large trucks. In this rigorous evaluation, the Subaru Forester stood out by being the only small SUV to achieve a ‘good’ rating among the first ten models tested.

Key Highlights

  • New testing speeds: Tests now conducted at speeds of 31, 37, and 43 mph to better reflect real-world conditions.
  • Diverse test targets: Inclusion of motorcycle and semitrailer targets alongside traditional passenger car targets.
  • Improved safety metrics: Evaluation now includes both forward collision warnings and the effectiveness of automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems.

Overview of the Updated Crash Prevention Test

Originally designed to assess low-speed crash prevention, the IIHS’s test criteria have evolved significantly. The updated test reflects a greater variety of real-world crash scenarios, particularly those at higher speeds and involving larger vehicles or motorcycles. “This new, tougher evaluation targets some of the most dangerous front-to-rear crashes that are still happening,” IIHS President David Harkey emphasized.

Performance of Small SUVs in New Test

  • Subaru Forester: Achieved a ‘good’ rating, excelling in all test scenarios including motorcycle and semitrailer targets.
  • Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4: Received ‘acceptable’ ratings, performing well in most scenarios but less consistently at higher speeds with motorcycle targets.
  • Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass: Each earned ‘marginal’ ratings, showing some capability in crash prevention but failing in higher-speed tests.
  • Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Volkswagen Taos: Rated ‘poor’ due to inadequate warning times and insufficient speed reduction in multiple test scenarios.

Detailed Test Outcomes

The Forester avoided collisions across all test speeds with the passenger car target and demonstrated effective avoidance and braking with the motorcycle target at lower speeds. In contrast, vehicles with lower ratings, such as the Equinox and Taos, failed to provide timely or effective collision prevention in several scenarios.

The Need for Continued Advancements in Safety Technology

While many new vehicles are equipped with automatic emergency braking, the latest IIHS findings highlight the necessity for continuous improvement in safety technologies to enhance protection against a broader spectrum of accident scenarios. “Deadly underride crashes often occur when the struck vehicle is a large truck, and motorcyclists are frequently killed when they’re rear-ended by a passenger car, since their bike offers no protection from the impact,” explained IIHS Senior Research Scientist David Kidd.

This comprehensive update to the IIHS’s testing protocol aims to push manufacturers to bolster safety features, ensuring better protection for all road users in increasingly common and severe traffic conditions.

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