Few small SUVs excel in front crash prevention test

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is updating its vehicle-to-vehicle front crash-prevention test to address crashes that occur at higher speeds and those in which the struck vehicle is a motorcycle or large truck. Only one of the first 10 small SUVs evaluated earns a good rating.

The Subaru Forester is the only small SUV to earn a good rating in the updated test. Two others, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, are rated acceptable. The Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, and Jeep Compass earn marginal ratings, while the Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Volkswagen Taos are all rated poor.

The updated tougher test by the IIHS includes trials run at 31, 37, and 43 mph. In addition to a passenger car target, it examines performance with a motorcycle target and a semitrailer. As a result, the new evaluation reflects a substantially greater proportion of police-reported front-to-rear crashes, including many that are more severe.

In the new evaluation, multiple trials are conducted. Tests are run at all three speeds with each vehicle type. The trials using targets evaluate both the forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems. In each test run, an engineer drives the test vehicle toward the target at the selected speed and records when the forward collision warning occurs and how much the AEB system slows the vehicle to prevent or mitigate the impending impact.

In all the test runs using the trailer, only the forward collision warning system is evaluated, and the driver steers out of the lane to avoid a crash.

The good-rated Forester avoided a collision with the passenger car target at every test speed, avoided hitting the motorcycle target at 31 and 37 mph, and slowed by an average of 30 mph before hitting the motorcycle target in the 43 mph tests. The forward collision warning alerts also came more than the required 2.1 seconds before the projected time of impact in all those trials and in those conducted with the trailer.

The acceptable-rated CR-V provided a timely forward collision warning alert and came to a stop or near stop in every trial with the passenger car target and in the 31 and 37 mph trials with the motorcycle target. However, it failed to slow consistently in the 43 mph trials with the motorcycle target.

The four poor-rated vehicles fell short in multiple test scenarios.

Even vehicles with a marginal rating in the new test demonstrate a higher level of performance than what was required for the highest rating in the original vehicle-to-vehicle front crash-prevention evaluation.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today