Of the 18 midsize family sedans included in the most recent frontal crash test by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, only two – the 2013 Suzuki Kizashi and 2013 Honda Accord – received a “good” rating. Eleven other models received an “acceptable” rating.
Two popular Toyota models, the redesigned Camry and Prius V, received “poor” ratings. The IIHS said the Prius model “sustained major structural damage in the test.” In tests of the Toyota Camry and Prius V, researchers found that there were “high levels of occupant compartment intrusion.” Lund said, “Toyota engineers have a lot of work to do to match the performance of their competitors.”
In its defense, Toyota issued a statement in which it said, “The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) periodically develops new, more severe or specialized tests which go beyond federal requirements. With this new test, the Institute has raised the bar again, and we will respond to the challenge. We are evaluating the new test protocols and can say that there will not be one single solution to achieve greater crash performance in this area.”
IIHS President Adrian Lund said he was surprised that family sedans performed better than mid-size luxury and near-luxury models subjected to the same test. “The difference is stunning,” said Lund. “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.”
The IIHS “small overlap test” simulates a number of scenarios which safety experts say more closely represent how vehicles perform in real world crash conditions than was possible with previous barrier tests.
The new test evaluates damage done when the driver’s side front end collides with a five-foot tall rigid barrier at a speed of 40 miles per hour. Lund explains, “The crash damage in these tests is like the damage we see in real-world crashes where heads and chests are injured.”
In tests of the Toyota Camry and Prius V, researchers found that there were “high levels of occupant compartment intrusion.” Lund said, “We’ve seen automakers make structural and restraint changes in response to our small overlap test,” and added, “Toyota engineers have a lot of work to do to match the performance of their competitors.”