According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only the 4-door Mini Cooper earned a “good” rating in its latest round of front-end crash test for small cars. While the Chevy Volt (the only automobile in the mix to earn a “Top Safety Pick Plus”* label), Ford C-Max, Mitsubishi Lancer, FR-S and Scion, as well as Subaru BRZ were deemed “acceptable,” the Scion xB and Hyundai Veloster were only given "marginal” ratings. Finishing worst were the Nissan Leaf, Nissan Juke, Fiat 500L, and Mazda5 wagon, when their front cabins collapsed. In addition, the Mazda5’s side air bags “failed to deploy and driver’s side door unlatched” during the test. Despite this, Mazda was quick to point out that the Mazda5 had previously “earned ‘good’ ratings in other IIHS tests including one regarding roof strength and a font moderate overlap test.”
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, located in Arlington, VA is a non-profit organization (funded by auto insurance companies) that looks for ways to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes, and rates of injuries and amount of property damage they cause by conducting research and rating popular passenger vehicles as well as other automotive related products such as child car booster seats.
The Insurance Institute’s front overlap crash test for small cars was first established in 2012 in order to evaluate what happens when “25% of a car’s front end smashes into a rigid object at 40 mph.” According to officials, it is a “difficult test because a small section of the car’s front end has to absorb (and manage) the energy generated from a severe crash at high speed.” To earn a ‘good” rating the vehicle’s cabin must stay intact around the car’s occupants for the most part and protect them with a combination of air bags and seat belts.
*In order for a car to be designated as a “Top Safety Pick,” it must first merit a “good or acceptable” rating for small overlap protection, as well as earn “good” ratings on the IIHS’s four other crash tests involving moderate overlap font, side, roof strength and head restraints.