Half of small cars score badly on tougher U.S. crash tests

Thu Aug 8, 2013 12:03am EDT
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By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - The auto industry continued its poor performance in an influential U.S. safety group's new crash test as half of the small cars tested did not fare well.

Six of the cars tested, most of which were 2013 models, were rated "poor" or "marginal." General Motors Co's Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze each received marginal scores, while Kia Motors Corp's Soul and 2014 Forte were rated "poor" in the results released on Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Nissan Motor Co's Sentra also was rated "poor," while Volkswagen AG's Beetle was ranked "marginal."

The IIHS increased the rigor of its tests last year to include crashes that involve only a front corner of a vehicle. The insurance group said nearly one-fourth of U.S. front-of-vehicle crashes that result in serious injury or death involve only a single corner that strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.

The IIHS continues to score vehicles on side, rear, rollover and front-end crashes that impact more than just a corner.

"This is a challenging new crash test and it's not surprising that some vehicles are earning marginal and poor ratings," IIHS spokesman Russ Radar said of the small overlap front crash test.

"This crash scenario doesn't lend itself to a Band-Aid fix so for most manufacturers the countermeasure will have to be built in when there's a full redesign," he added.


General Motors employee Peggy Burnside inspects a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic as it rolls off the assembly line at the GM Orion Assembly Plant September 14, 2011 in Lake Orion, Michigan. REUTERS/John F. Martin-General Motors/Handout