Small Car Safety Ratings

For many car shoppers, the hunting begins with research online, looking at options, styles and gas mileage. Buyers compare sticker prices and consumer ratings and car enthusiast reviews. Many also look very closely at safety ratings.

Many Americans are now interested in the smaller new cars because of their fuel efficiency. Smaller new cars are typically sporty, fun to drive and perfect for consumers who are concerned about the price of gasoline. Many also have much lower price tags than SUVs that have been so popular in recent years.

A new round of crash tests, performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has brought to light something you may not have considered: the crash testing scores for sedans do not necessarily apply to the coupe versions of the same models. The news is not bad at all, however.

The IIHS is an auto safety laboratory funded by car insurance companies which performed separate crash tests on same-model coupes and sedans from various automakers.

In the tests, none of the models was rated lower than "Acceptable" in the front or side tests. The Ford Focus and Volvo C30 earned the top rating of "Good" when subjected to front, side and rear impact tests.

Of the five models tested, all earned the top rating of "Good" in front impact tests except for the Scion TC.

It was reported that the entire group faired very well during the rigorous testing.

Two door coupes were often found to differ in ratings from the same four door model. Autoblog reports, “The 2009 Ford Focus Coupe joins Volvo’s 2009 C30 as a two-door vehicle that earns the agency’s Top Safety Pick rating, yet the four-door Focus scored a lower "Acceptable" rating in previous IIHS side crash testing." The blog also reports that the 2009 Honda Civic sedan received a "Top Safety Pick" rating while the coupe was given an "Acceptable" side crash score.

IIHS senior vice president of vehicle research, David Zuby, stated in a recent press release, “These differences confirm that crash test ratings for 4-door cars can’t automatically be applied to 2-door versions. Still the safety improvements we’ve seen for 4-door vehicles generally appear to be carrying over to 2-doors, which is good news for consumers.” All of the tested vehicles, for instance, have head-protecting side airbags as standard equipment.

Buying a smaller car model then, does not necessarily mean a lesser safety rating, but you should always remember to consider the safety rating of the specific model you are looking at.

Posted in In the News

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