IIHS: Chevrolet Spark is Safest Microcar

Spark-crash-2

This probably doesn't come as much of a surprise, but microcars just aren't as safe as larger vehicles, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's new round of crash tests. Of the 11 model-year 2013 and 2014 microcars and subcompacts evaluated, the agency reported that only the Chevrolet Spark earned an acceptable rating in the challenging small overlap front crash test. The 10 others in the group earned marginal and poor scores, the two lowest ratings. "Minicars are the worst performing group so far in this test," IIHS said in a statement.

22 Cars Earn IIHS' Revised Top Safety Pick Plus Award

The 40 mph crash test simulates the front corner of a vehicle striking a smaller-diameter object like a tree or a telephone pole. The Honda Fit and Fiat 500 got the lowest scores of the group. "In both the 2013 Honda Fit and the 2014 Fiat 500, intruding structure seriously compromised the driver space, and the dummy's head didn't stay in contact with the frontal airbag. The 500's driver door tore open at the hinges," IIHS said in a statement. The agency also reported that the side-curtain airbag failed to deploy in the Toyota Yaris (pictured below), leading to its low score.

Toyota-yaris-crash
Honda's Fit has been redesigned for 2015 but hasn't yet been crash-tested by IIHS. The automaker, however, has high hopes for the new model. "Honda has an all-new, completely redesigned 2015 Honda Fit that will come to market in just a few months and we anticipate it will earn top safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, with a good rating in all test modes including the rigorous small overlap front crash test," said Angie Nucci, Honda spokeswoman.

The Spark's acceptable score in the small overlap front test and its good ratings in the agency's four other crash tests helped earn it Top Safety Pick status, the only micocar to do so. "The Spark achieves an acceptable overall rating because the dummy's movement was fairly well controlled and its injury measures were low," IIHS said in a statement.

The Spark, like all the other microcars tested, doesn't offer a crash prevention system, a must-have for a vehicle to earn IIHS' highest honor, the Top Safety Pick Plus award. Despite its best-in-class safety rating, IIHS cautions that the Spark still exhibited some structural integrity problems during the crash. "Consumers should remember that the Spark, while offering more small overlap protection than other minicars, weighs less than 2,500 pounds and doesn't protect as well as a larger and heavier vehicle with a comparable rating," it said.

Check out the chart below for each micocar's detailed scores:

IIHS-microcar-chart

Comments 

D5

OMG the front of the car is totally obliterated. Just another reason why I would NEVER put my wife or kids in such a small vehicle. You can't fool physics when going up against a vehicle like a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Tony

You gotta be dumb to buy Smart

Lovely. These tests just add more fear and paranoia for people to dislike and avoid small cars. It's basic knowledge that with the laws of physics, a small car will not fair well against an SUV. But then again, an SUV will not fair well against a semi-truck.

This type of fear doesn't exist in other countries because the majority of drivers are in equally small cars. There's no such thing as "trying to out-do" someone else like it's a game of survival.

It seems like these tests by the IIHS is a way to promote larger cars.

I feel the best car to have is one that can avoid an accident to begin with. Small cars are much more nimble.

I've driven small cars all my life, and have never been in a collision in one. I've had close calls, but have managed to get around a potential accident. The accidents I've been in, as a passenger, have always been in larger cars.

Driving a subcompact is much like riding a motorcycle. There's more risk, but the trade-off is worth it. It's not worth living life in fear

Brady Holt

It's important to note that a frontal collision against a rigid barrier is the equivalent to a head-on collision with a car of the same weight. So this is *in addition* to small cars' inherent issue against a larger vehicle.

Not that it wouldn't stop me from buying a small car, but let's get the facts clear.

Kevin

I got one of these. Cute and awesome mileage too.

Mike

@D5: Ummm... you do realize that the front of the car is SUPPOSED to collapse, so that the passenger compartment DOESN'T, right?

Google "Crumple zones" for more details.


Also, I think that Ryan has a good point -- a smaller car is more nimble AND has a lower center of gravity, so it's less likely to be in a collision or rollover in the first place.

Jason J.

"...a smaller car is more nimble AND has a lower center of gravity, so it's less likely to be in a collision..."

There's absolutely no scientific evidence that supports such a STUPID statement.

Another point I wanted to make is that the IIHS is the INSURANCE Institute for highway safety. (This is paid for by INSURANCE companies with financial motives) They are not law makers. They set no regulations.

They don't pre-warn the OEMs that they're going to test their cars for new collision types, and when they do a new test like this one, they make sure that it makes the headlines: "YOUR car is UNSAFE!" This crash test is not required by the government, and these cars were not engineered to meet a government standard for these tests.

They can now hold up a piece of paper that justifies charging you more insurance for your small Honda, Hyundai, or Mitsubishi.

This view of the small-overlap crash test makes it look like the whole front end is crushed...SHOCKING!!..its not. All cars, big and small. are far safer than they were 20 years ago. SUVs have safety disadvantages that small cars don't.

However, many people are easily influenced by this. It's bad news for Mitsubishi, Honda, Fiat, Hyundai, etc. because most people will believe these were indeed government crash tests and that will potentially hurt sales

Chris

"There's absolutely no scientific evidence that supports such a STUPID statement." - Jason J.

Haha, except of course the laws of physics. Sheesh, everyone needs a double blind study to confirm anything these days. Smaller cars are lighter and lower to the ground compared to a SUV. If you had to corner fast, you would want a car that has both these traits. Low center of gravity means less rollover potential and better distribution of weight between wheels. Lighter means less inertia going into a corner. Of course, a smaller car also has smaller wheels, but the surface area per weight is still superior. Wonder why they don't build race cars with a high center of gravity?

Jack

what really shocks me here is how some people are still trying to defend these vehicles...you don't have to buy a big SUV to be safe, but just look at what happened to these compacts and look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdxmKpR_3Xc
and that's just an example of a vehicle that performed well in those tests...many of them passed the test, compacts included - like the Honda Civic - and they will cost you 2-3k more...isn't that worth the money for the added safety?

Jack, there are still quite a few people who prefer small cars like this, or don't have the means to afford a larger car.

Personally, I would rather have the compactness, maneuverability of a small hatchback than a larger sedan, such as the Honda Civic, and I can also fit more into the hatch. I also prefer the more basic, honest-to-goodness nature of these cars. I could afford an Elantra or a Focus, but feel it's excessive and an Accent/Fiesta is fine for me. In other countries, these cars are considered family cars. Owning a car like this and knowing there's some risk is okay by me; it just makes me more of an alert and defensive driver; something we all should be.

It may seem like a dream for world peace, but if we all drove smaller cars, then it would take away much of the fear of "the other guy"

Lastly, in this price-sensitive subcompact market, for folks who only have $16k to spend on a new car, an additional $2-3k more is beyond reach, and many of these folks are just wanting that new car smell

George

These 'tests' are a farce.
Part overlap, should be 1/3, and actually engage one of the crumple zones.
Full overlap, should be 2/3 of the width and engage both crumple zones.

This newfound problem is just a way to stick it to the customer, who is held at gunpoint by the government.

Uhh..only a few of these are "micro cars"..ex. an Accent and a Yaris are NOT micro cars!!! A Spark and a SmartCar ARE microcars. It's funny that the same cars that were previously 'marginal' and 'good' in other crash tests are now poor the following year with the IIHS versus some other agency. Always remember...you're a consumer of information and always question.

Six

"This newfound problem is just a way to stick it to the customer, who is held at gunpoint by the government." - George

Uhh, I think you mean held at gunpoint by insurance companies. IIHS is not NHTSA.

My problem with this test is that they gloss over how much higher their standards are from previous years. These microcars are much safer than much larger cars from several years ago. So, if someone looks at the test results and says "well, I was going to buy a Fiat 500, but I guess they're not safe, I'll stay with my old Volvo" they might actually be quite a bit worse off.

See this clip from fifth gear -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emtLLvXrrFs

\joe\

sure,the spark is fine when it hits something, but if it is hit by a Unimog, we aren,t in Kansas anymore.

Troy S.

Isn't the Spark made by Daewoo in South Korea, imported and badged as a Chevrolet?

George

@Six
The government says you, as a non-commercial vehicle, need to purchase pre-insurance, when you have not shown any propensity to avoid civil responsibility.
Most people don't use their insurance, so the money paid out [at the gunpoint of the state] could be better served by saving/investing.

Six

@George

Are you seriously suggesting ending the car insurance mandate? Even Live Free or Die NH mandates liability insurance. 50 states have individually considered car insurance and all mandate it.

The coverage limits I carry are generally not determined by state laws but by my bank who requires comprehensive coverage on all cars they hold a lien on.

My car was struck by an uninsured motorist a few years ago, and I'm absolutely glad I had coverage. I'm also glad my insurance company handled it and I didn't need to personally hunt the guy down and sue him, that would have cost a LOT more than my insurance. But perhaps you have speeding tickets.

\joe\

Heard of a folding chair? Introducing the folding car!

The Chevrolet Spark is Safest Microcar acceptable score in the small overlap front test and its good ratings in the agency's four other crash tests helped earn it Top Safety Pick status, the only micocar to do so.keep it up.......

new chevrolet cars Portland

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