Smaller Vehicles Put Through Crash Tests


UPDATED: Wednesday July 30, 2014 5:25 AM

REUTERS - The General Motors Co Chevrolet Volt was the only one of a dozen small cars tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to earn a "Top Safety Pick+" award, the IIHS said in a statement on Wednesday.

In small front overlap crash tests of a dozen small cars, only BMW AG's Mini Cooper Countryman scored a top-rating of "good" for safety, and the Volt was among five others that scored the second-highest rating of "acceptable," the IIHS said.

The poorest performer was Mazda Motor Corp's Mazda 5 compact minivan. The IIHS said the Mazda 5 had the distinction of being one of the three worst-performing cars since the small overlap crash test was developed in 2012. The others were the Kia Motors Corp Forte small car and the Toyota Motor Corp Prius v, a midsize hybrid.

While the Countryman outperformed the Volt in the small overlap crash test, it was not named a Top Safety Pick+ because it does not have a front crash prevention system.

The Volt has a collision warning system to alert drivers of an imminent front collision.

This system is one of two front crash prevention systems in some automobiles, the other being automatic braking, which kicks in without a driver's input when a crash is imminent.

The small front overlap is one of three front crash tests used in the United States. The federal government conducts a full-in front crash test, and the IIHS does a moderate overlap front crash test in which 40 percent of the vehicle's front hits an object at 40 miles per hour.

In the small overlap crash test, the front quarter of the driver's side hits an object at 40 miles per hour. It is used to simulate a car crossing a centerline and hitting another vehicle, or going off the road and striking an object such as a tree.

As a result of the test, automakers have started to adjust the design and engineering of their cars to get a better score.

The Volt, a plug-in hybrid, scored better than the Nissan Motor Co fully electric Leaf, which was given a "poor" rating in the recent testing.

The IIHS has now tested 32 small cars, including those assessed earlier. The best performer among them was the Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback.

Of the 32 small cars, 19 earned "good" or "acceptable" ratings and 13 earned "marginal" or "poor" ratings.