Disappointing Safety Test Results for Midsize Sports Utility Vehicles

In April, we discussed a recent overlap front crash safety test that was performed by the IIHS. In this post the topic was centered on the poor results in the minicar category. Unfortunately, results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows unsatisfactory results in the midsize SUV category as well.

Nine makes of sports utility vehicles were tested in the small overlap front crash test, including:

  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • GMC Terrain
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Ford Explorer
  • Kia Sorento
  • Mazda CX-9
  • Honda Pilot

Out of those nine SUV models, only the Equinox, Terrain, and Highlander qualify for the Institute's Top Safety Pick+ award for the 2014 year. This award takes into account the small overlap test, as well as four other passenger safety tests, and requires at least a basic rating for frontal crash prevention. The Grand Cherokee, 4Runner, and Explorer vehicles ranked "marginal", while the last three earned a "poor" ranking factor.

This small overlap test was introduced approximately a year and a half ago and is more difficult to pass than most other head-on or overlap tests, but it is an important test in determining what would happen if the front-end crush zones are evaded in a crash. It tests what would happen in the event that the vehicle struck a solid object or barrier while traveling at 40 miles per hour. Inadequate designs allow for the compartment of the vehicles in which occupants sit to be collapsed, causing serious injuries to those involved in these types of crashes. While one's head, neck, chest, hop, and thigh areas may be unharmed in such a crash, these tests show that one's lower leg and foot is at a great risk of injury in all vehicles except the first three on the list. Occupants are also at a high risk of injury as a result of restraint and kinematic issues in these crashes.

When searching for a new vehicle, it is important that you take these safety tests, as well as those performed by the government and other agencies, into consideration. Without testing, vehicles are not guaranteed to be safe in the event of crashes. For more information on vehicle safety ratings or to discuss a potential injury claim as a result of defective automobile manufacturing, contact Jones & Swanson today.