Few Midsize Cars Pass Side Impact Crash Test

New IIHS Side-Impact Crash Test Fails Most Midsize Vehicles

If you drive a midsize vehicle, you may want to pay close attention to the new findings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The organization recently updated its side-impact crash test to reflect current accidents involving high-speed SUVs and pickup trucks. The original crash test, done in 2003, used a barrier weight of 3,300 pounds and an impact speed of 31 miles per hour.

But SUVs and pickup trucks have been made bigger and heavier since the 1980s. With SUVs now outselling trucks and cars combined, if you get involved in an accident, you are more likely to be hit by an SUV that is bigger and heavier than those used in the old crash test. Motorists also drive faster; reckless driving, speeding tickets, and deadly accidents have increased in recent years. IIHS adjusted its crash tests to match today’s driving conditions.

The Updated Side-Impact Crash Test

The new crash test increased the side-impact barrier to 4,200 pounds and the impact speed to 37 miles per hour. IIHS said the changes were made after data from today’s car accidents showed more damage than expected. The new test better simulates a side-impact crash with an SUV.

The barrier was also changed to resemble the current pickup trucks and SUVs when hitting the side of another vehicle. As in the old test, the new test uses two female crash test dummies to determine how well the airbags work for smaller occupants. IIHS said these changes generate 82 percent more energy than the previous test and address the high death rate, which accounted for 23 percent of traffic accident deaths in 2020.

Findings from the Updated Crash Test

For a vehicle to receive a good rating, its occupant compartment must maintain its shape well during the impact, and the crash test dummies’ measurements must not show a high risk of serious injuries. The seat belts and side airbags must also keep the dummies’ heads from hitting the interior.

Using the new test criteria, the IIHS tested seven midsize vehicles. While all seven of these vehicles earned good ratings in the previous side-impact crash test, most did not fare well in the updated test. According to the new test results:

  • The 2022 Subaru Outback is the only vehicle with a “Good” rating.
  • The Volkswagen Jetta and Hyundai Sonata received an “Acceptable” rating.
  • Honda Accord earned a “Marginal” rating.
  • The Toyota Camry, Chevy Malibu, and Nissan Altima received a “Poor” rating.

Why Mid-Size Cars Fail Side-Impact Crash Performance

An “Acceptable” rating was given to the Hyundai Sonata and the Volkswagen Jetta because IIHS noted more intrusion into the passenger compartment. However, both vehicles were recognized for having good airbag protection.

A “Marginal” rating was given to the Honda Accord due to a high risk of head and pelvis injuries and moderate intrusion resulting from a collision.

A “Poor” rating was given to the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Chevrolet Malibu because intrusion into the passenger compartment was substantial. All three vehicles showed a moderate or high risk of injuries to the head, neck, or torso. The impacts also caused the dummies’ heads to fall below the airbag and hit the window sill.

IIHS said vehicles that sit lower to the ground are struck higher on the door panel. That gives sedans and wagons a significant disadvantage in both crash tests and real-world collisions. However, IIHS said small and midsize SUVs performed better in the updated side-impact test.

Watch the YouTube video to learn more about the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s side-impact crash tests.

Sacramento Auto Accident Attorneys

I’m Ed Smith, an Auto Accident Attorney in Sacramento. When someone else’s negligent action has caused your accident injuries, call our legal team at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for friendly, free advice. For online inquiries, send us a message on our Contact Us form.

Since 1982, our injury lawyers have represented many California residents with their traumatic accident claims and wrongful death cases.

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