Honda Civics Nab Top Honors in Latest Front-end Car Crash Tests

Redesigns of two Honda Civic models are the only small-car models to earn the highest rating in the newest high-speed frontal crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The small-overlap front crash test, the Institute’s latest in a handful of assessments it conducts regularly on new-model vehicles, recreates crashes in which a vehicle’s front corner collides with an object at 40 mph.

From highest to lowest, the IIHS rates crash-tested vehicles as “good,” “acceptable,” “marginal” and “poor.” Aside from the small overlap test, the Institute’s crash evaluations are the moderate overlap front test, side test, rollover test and rear test.

Overall, half of 12 small-car models nabbed the Institute’s highest distinction of Top Safety Pick+, meaning that they got a good rating in at least four of the five crash tests and at least an acceptable rating on the fifth test.

The small cars that are Top Safety Pick+ are:
–Dodge Dart
–Ford Focus
–Hyundai Elantra
–Scion tC
–Two-door Honda Civic
–Four-door Honda Civic

However, the latest two-door and four-door Honda Civic models were the only models of the small-car batch to also earn the highest good rating in the small overlap test.

The latest Toyota Corolla redesign that will hit dealerships this month will be tested later, according to the Institute.

Crash Test Evaluates Side-Front Collisions

The new small overlap test was introduced to address crashes that make up nearly a quarter of all frontal collisions ending in serious injuries or fatalities for occupants of the front seats, according to IIHS. Most new model designs perform well on other tests like the moderate-overlap test, which assesses collisions with a larger part of a vehicle’s front section.

But the small-overlap test has pushed standards of safety. Small cars performed better than SUVs that were tested months ago, when the Institute found that only 2 of 13 new-model SUVs got top test ratings.

However, small cars fared worse than midsize vehicles, according to the Institute.

Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications with the IIHS, told Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN) that, though crash tests don’t directly impact insurance rates, they can play a part over time in how car insurers view a car model and the insurance premiums they charge for it.

“If a vehicle gets in fewer crashes and has fewer and less severe claims, then over time that should cost people less to insure it,” he told OAIN. “A vehicle that performs well in crash tests will likely have a good safety performance out on the road over time.”

Release of the latest crash-test findings comes alongside news that U.S. sales of small cars are up this summer. The Associated Press reports that, though analysts link some of the sales spike is to seasonal patterns, it is also attributable to customer demand that is likely to continue through the year.

Structural, Restraint Issues Plague Some Models

Models in the entire new-model vehicle fleet that end up near the bottom of the pack shared similar problems with the small-overlap crash test: structural and restraint issues.

David Zuby, chief research officer with the IIHS, highlighted sideways movement as a problem for small-car models that performed badly.

“In the worst cases, safety cages collapsed, driver airbags moved sideways with unstable steering columns and the dummy’s head hit the instrument panel,” he said in a statement. “Side curtain airbags didn’t deploy or didn’t provide enough forward coverage to make a difference. All of this adds up to marginal or poor protection in a small overlap crash.”

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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