Small cars perform poorly in IIHS small overlap front crash test

The U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently conducted its annual small overlap front crash test with a group of 12 compact cars from the 2014 model year, and only the MINI Cooper Countryman managed to earn a "Good" rating.

The 11 others (including two all-electric cars and one hybrid) were either rated as "Acceptable," "Marginal," or "Poor."

Introduced in 2012, the small overlap test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. In the test, 25% of a vehicle's front end on the driver's side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph (about 65 km/h).

The test is more difficult than either the head-on crashes conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the IIHS' moderate overlap test. In the small overlap test, the main structures of the vehicle's front-end crush zone are bypassed, making it hard for the vehicle to manage crash energy. The occupant compartment can collapse as a result.

Here are the overall ratings for the 12 small cars tested by the IIHS:

  • MINI Cooper Countryman: Good
  • Chevrolet Volt: Acceptable
  • Ford C-MAX: Acceptable
  • Mitsubishi Lancer: Acceptable
  • Scion FR-S (built after December 2013): Acceptable
  • Subaru BRZ (built after December 2013): Acceptable
  • Scion xB (built after February 2014): Marginal
  • Hyundai Veloster: Marginal
  • Fiat 500L: Poor
  • Nissan Juke: Poor
  • Nissan LEAF: Poor
  • Mazda5: Poor

Check out the full results on the IIHS website.

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