Consumer Watch: Crash safety ratings


by Andy Treinen

Posted on December 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 20 at 6:20 PM

(WHAS11) -- If you are in the market for a new car for the new year, a new round of crash tests indicates family Sedans may fare better than some luxury models.

A new round of crash tests from the insurance institute for highway safety found moderately-priced vehicles outperform some luxury models in a key safety test. IIHS put 18 mid-sized family cars through its new small overlap test, replicating what happens when the front corner of a vehicle hits something like another car, a tree or a utility pole.

“In this kind of crash, the vehicle rotates and the driver tends to keep going towards the windshield pillar, so you want the airbag the frontal airbag and the side airbag to make sure you can't get there,” IIHS president, Adrian Lund said.

When tested in August only three of 11 luxury and near-luxury models earned a good or acceptable rating.   Among the family cars, 13 earned the IIHS distinction of top safety pick plus, which now includes the small overlap test. 

They include:
-- Chrysler 200 four-door
-- Dodge Avenger
-- Ford Fusion
-- Honda Accord two-door and four-door
-- Kia Optima
-- Nissan Altima
-- Subaru's Legacy and Outback
-- Suzuki Kizashi
-- Volkswagen Passat

IIHS says that many automakers have responded to the new test to make future models safer.

"When we looked at modern vehicles and why people were dying, we found that about a quarter of those deaths in frontal crashes occur in a small overlap crash. So we think that this is the next big piece of safety that we can design into the vehicle for people,” Lund said. 

The Camry, which is the top-selling mid-size care in the United States, and the Prius V, a four-door hybrid wagon, earn poor ratings for small overlap protection and are the worst performers of the mid-size group.