A group of moderately priced family cars did better than most of their luxury counterparts in a new frontal crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on 2013 models.
Of the 18 midsize family cars tested, two earned the top rating of good, 11 earned acceptable, three earned marginal, and two were rated poor.
Of the 11 midsize luxury cars, just three earned acceptable or good ratings. More details about the test are available in the latest IIHS Status Report.
The new test evaluates what happens to the driver when the front corner of a car collides with another vehicle or object. In the test, 25 percent of a car's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph.
"It's remarkable that this group of midsize family cars did so much better than the midsize luxury car group," Adrian Lund, IIHS president, said in the report. "The difference is stunning. Thirteen of these midsize cars offer better crash protection than all but three of their luxury counterparts, and at a price that's easier on the wallet."
Most automakers design their vehicles for good performance in moderate and full-width overlap frontal tests, but many haven't addressed the problem of small overlap crashes, which can be deadly, the institute said.
To reward 2013 models with superior crash protection, IIHS has created the "Top Safety Pick+" award, with the plus sign indicating good or acceptable performance in the new small overlap test. Top Safety Pick+ winners must earn good ratings for occupant protection in at least four of five evaluations, with no less than acceptable in the fifth test. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in a moderate overlap frontal crash, small overlap frontal crash, side impact and rollover, plus evaluations of seat and head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.
So far, 13 models qualify for the Top Safety Pick+ award:
- Dodge Avenger
- Chrysler 200 four-door
- Ford Fusion
- Honda Accord two-door
- Honda Accord four-door
- Kia Optima
- Nissan Altima four-door
- Subaru Legacy
- Subaru Outback
- Suzuki Kizashi
- Volkswagen Passat
- Acura TL
- Volvo S60
The institute will announce additional winners as it continues to test models. Results for small SUVs are expected in the spring.