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Only Two Compact SUVs Earn IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus Designation

2014 Subaru Forester IIHS crash test
The 2014 Subaru Forester earned the highest score in the IIHS' small overlap frontal crash test. Image courtesy IIHS.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety evaluated compact SUVs in its latest round of crash testing, and only two of the 13 models tested were named Top Safety Pick Plus vehicles. The IIHS put the vehicles through a moderate front overlap crash test, a side crash test, a rear crash test and a roof strength test, as well as its new small overlap frontal crash test, which is designed to see how well a vehicle performs in front-impact crash tests where the front corner of the vehicle hits an object. The crash test simulates the vehicle hitting a tree or pole, by sending them at 40 mph toward a 5-foot-tall solid barrier.  

The 2014 Subaru Forester earned the top rating of Good in the small overlap crash test, and the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned the second best rating of Acceptable. The other 11 models earned either a score of Marginal or Poor in the small overlap test.

“This is not the first time that the Forester has stood out in a new IIHS crash test,” the IIHS says in a statement. “When the Institute first rated small SUVs for side protection in 2003, the Subaru model performed the best and was one of only two to earn good ratings.”

The 2013 Nissan Rogue and Jeep Patriot performed the worst in the small overlap frontal crash test. “… the front pillar of the Nissan Rogue's door frame was pushed far inside the occupant compartment and after the crash was almost touching the driver seat,” the IIHS says. “The Jeep Patriot was among the worst for restraints and kinematics. The dummy's head slid off the frontal airbag as the steering wheel moved 8 inches up and nearly 6 inches to the right. The side curtain airbag didn't deploy, and the safety belt allowed the dummy's head and torso to move too far forward.”

To date, the IIHS has tested affordable and upscale midsize cars, as well as this latest round of compact SUVs. A vehicle is named a Top Safety Pick Plus if it earns the top score of Good in moderate overlap front, side, rear and rollover tests, and earns either a Good or Acceptable score in the small overlap frontal test. A total of 20 vehicles have earned the highest Top Safety Pick Plus award so far.

2013 Nissan Rogue IIHS crash test
The 2013 Nissan Rogue was one of the worst performers in the small overlap frontal crash test. Image courtesy IIHS.

Among the recent compact SUV test group, IIHS Top Safety Pick awards were given to the BMW X1, Buick Encore, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Patriot, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan. To earn a Top Safety Pick award, vehicles must earn the top score of Good in moderate overlap front, side, rollover and rear tests. The Toyota RAV4 is also a Top Safety Pick, but did not go through the small overlap frontal test yet. “Toyota asked for the delay so it could make changes to the RAV4 to improve performance in the test,” the IIHS says.

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