IIHS Tests 12 Compact Cars: Six Pass, Six Fail

A half-dozen compact cars have earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick+ honor, the nonprofit vehicle-safety advocacy group announced today. Of the 12 models evaluated, top awardees included the two- and four-door versions of the 2013 Honda Civic, 2013 Dodge Dart, 2013 Ford Focus, 2013 Hyundai Elantra and 2014 Scion tC. All of these received Good or Acceptable ratings overall in five different crash tests.

Six other cars — the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic, 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, 2013 Volkswagen Beetle, 2013 Nissan Sentra, 2013 Kia Soul and 2014 Kia Forte — earned Marginal or Poor ratings. "In some cases dummies' heads struck hard structures like the windshield pillar and instrument panel," IIHS media relations associate Kristin Nevels said in a statement.

The IIHS introduced the "plus" designation last year when it added a fifth test to its battery, the small overlap front test, which replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or a small-diameter object such as a tree or utility pole. Top Safety Pick+ awardees must get good ratings in four of five evaluations and no less than acceptable in the fifth test; vehicles are rated Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor based on performance in moderate overlap front crash, small overlap front crash, side impact and rollover tests, in addition to evaluations of the seats' and head restraints' effectiveness in protecting occupants against neck injuries in rear impacts.

These latest six vehicles bring the total earning top honors to 25. Small cars are the fourth group to be tested; previous groups were midsize luxury cars, midsize cars and small SUVs; results for minicars are expected to be released later this year. The Toyota Corolla was excluded from the test because the automaker is releasing the redesigned 2014 model this summer, IIHS reported.

"As a group, small cars fared worse than their midsize and moderately priced counterparts in the same test but better overall than small SUVs," IIHS said in a statement.

Below are the 12 cars that were tested, in order of how well they performed overall in the IIHS small overlap front test:

  • 2013 Honda Civic (four-door), Good
  • 2013 Honda Civic (two-door), Good
  • 2013 Dodge Dart, Acceptable
  • 2013 Ford Focus, Acceptable
  • 2013 Hyundai Elantra, Acceptable
  • 2014 Scion tC, Acceptable
  • 2013 Chevrolet Sonic, Marginal
  • 2013 Volkswagen Beetle, Marginal
  • 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, Marginal
  • 2013 Nissan Sentra, Poor
  • 2013 Kia Soul, Poor
  • 2014 Kia Forte, Poor

Editor's note: This post was updated on Aug. 8 to include each car's small overlap front test scores.

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Rated IIHS Top Safety Pick+
Five New Cars Earn IIHS Top Safety Pick+
More Safety News on Cars.com



Well, the 2014 Forte is not going to sell. What's the point of having a front airbag if your head hits the dashboard.

Derrick G

Since the Forte structurally did the same as the Elantra, looks like Kia could easily do seatbelt and airbag modifications to improve the rating. But in the meantime, the Forte is off my short list. Luckily, I probably won't be buying for about six to eight months, but if there's no fix by then, I won't be buying a Forte. Too bad, too, since it seems to otherwise be a very nice choice.

Ha that's not going to work

James Donnaught

I watched exactly this sort of crash in NYC just a week ago: someone turning left got clocked by a cab speeding through the "orange" light in the opposite direction. They got spun around, which took up a lot of the engergy on their side, but the cab got crushed. I wondered why the cab driver was a mess despite all his airbags going off, but now I see how it could happen.

It might be worth sticking a small airbag at the bottom of the A pillar. It would be easier than re-designing the car's frame, and all the components that attach to it.


Toyota RAV4 also showed the same problem with Kia Forte. Driver dummy missed airbags and hit the A pillar. It is the kind of crash that forces the driver pushes toward the A pillar.
I thought the same thing with James. The A pillar airbag will help.


These tests are insane.
Yes, it is a replica on real world situation. However, 25% of the front is changing its vector where 75% is still trying to go forward along with the passengers. That is where all those side loads are coming from.


Now you understand why you pay a little bit more for Civic? How much is your life costs?



Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App