IIHS Passenger-Side Small Overlap Front Crash Test Introduced with Mixed Results

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IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller says the new passenger-side offset testing gives a clearer picture of how safe a vehicle is.

A new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that when it comes to passenger safety, all vehicles are not created equally. Briefly put, only the 2016 Hyundai Tucson earned the "good" rating, with the remainder of the test group evaluated as "acceptable", "marginal," and "poor".

Last year, the organization found inconsistencies in passenger-side small overlap test results on seven small SUVs from the 2014 through 2016 model years that had good ratings for driver-side protection. This is a common accident that occurs when the front passenger-side corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or with an obstacle such as a tree or utility pole. You're putting everyone at risk.

The passenger-side small overlap front crash test, which duplicates the same test on the driver's side of the vehicle, sends a vehicle into a barrier at 64 km/h (40 mph) with just 25 per cent of the vehicle's front end overlapping the barrier.

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Mueller added that those two with marginal ratings from the Volkswagen Passat and Chevy Malibu were because of insufficient airbag protection.

"The midsize cars we tested didn't have any glaring structural deficiencies on the right side", says IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller. The Outback's "Good" passenger-side rating also applies to the 2018 Legacy. "Optimizing airbags and safety belts to provide better head protection for front-seat passengers appears to be the most urgent task now".

How do the vehicles protect passengers?

The Institute says it was concerned that all of the progress made on the left side of the vehicle wouldn't necessarily translate to the right side, since vehicles aren't engineered to be symmetrical. In total, 13 vehicles were crash-tested. That being the case, it will be interesting to see if automakers will pay attention to the IIHS' tips.

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