The recent news of traffic fatalities increasing to levels not seen since 2005 is disheartening, especially considering how far we have come with automotive safety and technology surrounding accident avoidance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is one organization that’s taken a deep dive into crash tests and conducted new, more aggressive tests for SUVs, one being a new side test that has some interesting findings.
In the IIHS’ recent new side test, they have increased the crash speed from 31 mph to 37 mph and increased the weight of the traveling barrier from 3,300 pounds to about 4,200 pounds to better simulate a current real-world side-impact crash. With the more aggressive test, the SUVs assessed, both small and midsize segments, experience 82% more energy that they must absorb and attempt to protect its occupants. The findings are interesting.
In the midsize class 10 out of 18 SUVs received an overall good rating: Ford Explorer, Infiniti QX60, Lincoln Aviator, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Atlas, Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport and Volkswagen ID.4.
In the small SUV class, most of the vehicles struggled in the more aggressive side crash test with only 1 out of 20 vehicles earning a good rating, the Mazda CX-5, and 9 of them receiving an acceptable rating: the Audi Q3, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Toyota Venza and Volvo XC40.
Eight of the other small SUVs received a marginal rating: the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, Kia Sportage, and Lincoln Corsair, while the Honda HR-V and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, receive poor ratings.
The newest IIHS side-impact crash test is only part of the safety worthiness story of SUVs. Many new vehicles have advanced active safety features to help prevent such accidents in the first place and many of them perform decently in other types of crash tests. It is wise to do your homework before choosing a new SUV if safety is a priority. Despite the rise in traffic accident-related deaths, possibly due to a recent change in driving behaviors during and after a worldwide pandemic, new vehicles are safer than they have ever been.