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All But One of a Dozen Small Cars Fall Short in Crash Test

Mini Countryman nabs a “good” rating from IIHS.

by on Jul.30, 2014

The 2014 Mini Countryman was the only vehicle to earn a "good" rating in the latest IIHS small car crash tests.

For those worried about the safety of today’s small cars, the latest round of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety didn’t provide much good news.

Out of an even dozen vehicles included in the test, only the Mini Countryman earned a “good” rating. And among the plug-based vehicles included in the tests for the first time, only the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid managed to eke out an “acceptable” rating – while also earning a Top Safety Pick+ award.

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“The Mini Cooper Countryman gave a solid performance,” says Joe Nolan, the Institute’s senior vice president for vehicle research. “The Countryman’s safety cage held up reasonably well. The safety belts and airbags worked together to control the test dummy’s movement, and injury measures indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a real-world crash this severe.”


3D System Helps Honda Accurately Simulate Crash Tests

Virtual crashes can be run “at the push of a button.”

by on Jun.25, 2014

A life-like, 3D Honda crash simulation.

There was a time when an automaker might have to build dozens of costly prototypes just to crash them in an effort to meet federal safety standards. These days, most of the work is done by computer simulation. But the challenge is to ensure that what goes on in the virtual world accurately reflects what would happen not only in a physical crash test but in the real world.

Honda has turned to a new 3D software system that promises to make crash simulations more realistic while saving both time and money in the process of developing new vehicles.

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“With this technology, we have gained the potential to improve the quality of decision making and reduce the time required for finalizing a vehicle design by greatly increasing the ease of communicating and understanding the results of a crash test simulation,” explained Eric DeHoff, the technical leader for computer aided engineering, in the Crash Safety Group of Honda R&D Americas, Inc.


Most Minicars Fail New Frontal Crash Tests

Chevy Spark the only model to pass – barely.

by on Jan.22, 2014

The Chevrolet Spark was the only one of 11 minicars to pass the IIHS front crash test.

A new round of crash tests could give serious pause to those hoping to downsize in order to lower their fuel bills or simply to reduce monthly payments – especially those who don’t want to downsize their safety.

Of 11 new minicars examined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 10 failed the trade group’s challenging new small overlap front test, the sort of crash common in real-world driving.  Only the Chevrolet Spark passed, and then just barely – the IIHS dubbing “these tiny vehicles the worst performing group of any evaluated so far.”

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As a result, the Spark is now the only minicar to earn the group’s coveted 2014 Top Safety Pick award.  Several other models previously honored lose that endorsement after failing the new crash test which is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another car or an object like a utility pole or tree.


Feds May Add New Auto Safety Ratings for Seniors, Pedestrians, Others

NHTSA aims to give better insight into vehicle crash performance.

by on Apr.05, 2013

The new NHTSA proposal would create a "silver" rating to show how senior drivers fare in a crash.

Federal safety regulators have continued to tighten automotive crash standards in recent years – but now are considering a new rating system that would make it easier for motorists to judge not only how a vehicle performs overall but how well it might protect older drivers, passengers and even pedestrians.

Evidence shows that older motorists have unique problems that can result in more serious injuries during a crash, whether driving or sitting in a back seat, something that may lead to the creation of a new “silver” rating, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in a posting in the Federal Register.

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NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said the agency also is considering new rear seat crash ratings. And a separate system could be initiated for pedestrians, as well. Europe already has set extensive mandates for pedestrian safety which have resulted in such innovations as a new Volvo airbag system that pops open on the base of the windshield if someone is struck by the vehicle.


Most Luxury Makers Fail New Crash Test

Only 2 of 11 compact luxury sedans earn “good” rating.

by on Aug.14, 2012

The Acura TL was one of only two among 11 compact luxury sedans to earn a "good" rating in the new test.

Hoping to push the industry to further improve the safety of tomorrow’s cars, an influential insurance trade group has launched a new partial front test designed to simulate a very common real world crash situation.

And of the 11 new compact luxury sedans put through the test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, only two earned a “good” rating while one other was rated “acceptable.”

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Explaining the need for the new, partial overlap test, IIHS President Adrian Lund said, “Nearly every new car performs well in other frontal crash tests conducted by the institute and the federal government, but we still see more than 10,000 deaths in frontal crashes each year.”


Record Crowd of 66 Vehicles Named IIHS Top Safety Picks

More than doubles last year’s total.

by on Dec.22, 2010

IIHS crash-tests a Volkswagen Touareg, the only large SUV to get its top safety pick award.

More vehicles than ever before can claim a “top safety pick” award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  The Virginia-based organization gave that honor to 66 of the latest cars, trucks and crossovers, more than doubling the number of top picks it awarded last year.

Among the top-rated models were 40 passenger cars, 25 sport-utility vehicles and one minivan, reports the IIHS, which serves as an automotive testing and lobbying group for the insurance industry.  It regularly crash tests new vehicles in a private counterpart to the tests done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In 2009, the IIHS handed out just 27 top picks, noted the group’s director, Adrian Lund.  Doubling that list, he said, ” gives consumers shopping for a safer new car or SUV – from economy to luxury models – plenty of choices to consider in most dealer showrooms. In fact, every major automaker has at least one winning model this year.”

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To get designated a top safety pick isn’t easy, requiring a vehicle to score well in a variety of tests, including front, side, rollover and rear crashes.  Vehicles must also be equipped with a range of standard safety features, including airbags, traction control and electronic stability control, at a minimum.  They must also meet minimum requirements in roof crush tests.