Toyota bombs new crash test; most family cars outperform luxury models
Suzuki, Honda score the highest on a 25 percent offset test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Like nine luxury cars the IIHS tested in August, the new Toyota Camry and Prius V scored "poor." The IIHS, a nonprofit organization of insurance companies, tested 18 new cars. Of the total, 11 earned an "acceptable" rating while another three were "marginal."
"In the Camry, the force of the impact shoved the front wheel back into the footwell, bending the windshield pillar and pushing the parking-brake pedal and the left outer edge of the instrument panel rearward into the driver's survival space," the IIHS said. "Likewise, there was significant intrusion in the Prius V, along with high forces on the dummy's legs and feet."
Toyota said in a statement that it would "respond to the challenge" and that "there will not be one single solution to achieve greater crash performance in this area."
Two of the cars tested earned a "good" rating: the midsize 2013 Honda Accord sedan and the Suzuki Kizashi, which will not be on sale next year due to Suzuki's pullout from the U.S. market. The only cars the IIHS has tested so far with equivalent "good" ratings were the Volvo S60 and Acura TL.
The latest "small overlap test" modifies the group's standard offset frontal impact test, in which a car collides with a 5-foot tall barrier at 40 mph. The previous offset test strikes 40 percent of a car's frontal area, while the new test hits just 25 percent. This kind of impact, the IIHS says, occurs in about a quarter of all frontal crashes in which front passengers are seriously or fatally injured.
The Suzuki Kizashi, left, kept its body structure intact, versus the Toyota Prius V, at right. (IIHS)
Other models that performed well, but not as well as the Kizashi and Accord, included the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Dodge Avenger, Subaru Legacy and Volkswagen Passat.
Normally, a car's safety cage is designed to keep the engine and other components from intruding into the cabin space during a head-on or offset frontal crash. But some popular cars, including the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, aren't strong enough to prevent their flanks -- plus the wheel and suspension components in this area -- from intruding the driver's side footwells and head space. In these worst cases, the frontal airbags move sideways and can't protect the driver's head, while serious leg and upper-body injuries can result from the pillars bending and deforming, the IIHS said.
The group does not yet factor the new test into its overall Top Safety Pick awards, hence the Camry's inclusion on that list. Eventually, automakers' performance in this test will have to be "acceptable" or "good" in order to have a top-scoring car.
Toyota said it will take a one-time pre-tax charge of $1.1 billion to cover the estimated costs of the settlement.
And the hits just keep coming.......
According to the IIHS, The following held the #1 overall safety spot in thier categories:
Minicars: Fiat 500
Small Cars : Acura ILX
Midsize Moderate price: Audi A3
Midsize Luxury: Acura TL
Large Family: Buick Lacrosse
Large Luxury: Audi A6
Small SUV: Ford Escape
Midsize SUV: Chevy Equinox
Midsoze Luxury SUV: Acura MDX
Large SUV: Buick Enclave
Minivan: Chrysler Town and Country
Large Pickup: Ford F150
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