Tougher side crash tests for small SUVs reveal room for improvement

Only 1 out of 20 gets a “good” rating from IIHS

Tougher side crash tests for small SUVs reveal room for improvement

New, tougher side-impact crash tests proved a challenge for 19 out of 20 small SUVs tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Only one of the bunch earned a “good” rating.

“We know if you are in a good-rated vehicle, your chances of dying are 70% lower than if you are in a poor-rated vehicle,” said IIHS President David Harkey.

The new crash tests use a heavier barrier and faster speed – 37 miles an hour- to better simulate today’s two-ton SUVs or pickups slamming into the side of a small SUV.

The IIHS strapped in crash test dummies and crashed 20 new model small SUVs. The only one to receive a “good” rating was the Mazda CX-5.

“The vehicle structure held up extremely well,” Harkey said. “The airbags did a very good job of protecting the heads of the crash test dummies.”

Crash after crash, they assessed how well a compartment structure held up, how well the airbags protected the occupants and what types of injuries the two female dummies sustained.

Nine SUVs got acceptable ratings, including the Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav4.

Two got poor ratings -- the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and the Honda HR-V. Structurally, Harkey said the Honda HR-V was the worst in the test.

“The result was our barrier intruded almost halfway into the driver’s seat,” he said.

The IIHS said while vehicles are much safer today than in the past, they hope these new, tougher tests push carmakers to make them even safer.

Out of the 20 SUVs tested, one earned a good rating:

  • 2021-22 Mazda CX-5

Nine earned an acceptable rating:

  • 2021-22 Audi Q3
  • 2021-22 Buick Encore
  • 2021-22 Chevrolet Trax
  • 2021-22 Honda CR-V
  • 2021-22 Nissan Rogue
  • 2021-22 Subaru Forester
  • 2021-22 Toyota RAV4
  • 2021-22 Toyota Venza
  • 2021-22 Volvo XC40

Eight SUVs earned a marginal rating:

  • 2021-22 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 2021-22 Ford Escape
  • 2021-22 GMC Terrain
  • 2021 Hyundai Tucson
  • 2021 Jeep Compass
  • 2021-22 Jeep Renegade
  • 2021-22 Kia Sportage
  • 2021-22 Lincoln Corsair

Two earned the lowest rating, poor:

  • 2021-22 Honda HR-V
  • 2020, 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (Mitsubishi skipped model-year 2020)

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.