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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.

By Clifford Atiyeh Dec 20, 2012 7:43AM
Two Toyota models performed poorly on a new offset crash test designed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but 11 other midsize family cars received the group's highest overall crash scores, ranking them safer than many expensive luxury models.

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.

[Source: IIHS]
Dec 20, 2012 8:36AM

The information is there if you are willing to research it.  You also have to keep in mind that it's much more important to report on the vehicles that perform poorly then to report on the vehicles that performed well. 


It's also worth mentioning that the test is new.  However, the picture of the Prius V is down right scary.

Dec 20, 2012 10:05AM

And yet Americans still buy the Toyota name instead of actually doing research. There are many other lines that are making much better quality automobiles than Toyota over the last several years. Toyota can make engines, but the quality of everything else has taken a real nosedive.

Dec 20, 2012 8:19AM

 Click on the link in the 2nd paragraph. It takes you to another article that states only one domestic did poorly. The rest were all Asian or European.

 It appears that the focus of this article was to point out which models scored poorly, not those that did well.

Dec 20, 2012 10:06AM
I used to perform DIN testing for car luggage-racks in conjunction with various crash testing for major auto manufacturers.

It's sad to see the way people drive. They have no idea of the forces they are dealing with. If you decelerate a car from say, 80 mph to 0 such in a short time, like in a head-on, the force-multiplied comes out to a very large number.

Chances are, seat belts and airbags won't save you at that speed. The results of these tests suggest what can happen at even 40 mph.

Drive safely and courteously. Your big SUV isn't as strong as you think it is.

Dec 20, 2012 10:17AM

Its about time Toyota is outed as the huge fraud they are. For years the media has been kissing there azz and building them up to be some super car manufacturer. Finally someone has the guts to challenge them. Bravo. BUY AMERICAN

Dec 20, 2012 9:52AM
These new cars are more like coke cans.  If the car is not safe then it should be ban from all sales.  They need to give that info in their car brochures.  Life is not a toy.
Dec 20, 2012 10:23AM
I am not surprised.  This company has hidden oil sludge issues for years, dodged faulty brakes and continually misleads the public through their advertizing (skewing stats and their record for their own dynasty development).

Its clear that their goal to manufacturer and sell more cars than anyone is continuing to affect quality.  Now if the media would just cover it with the same tenacious record as they did say GM in the 70's and others, the world may truly see this company for what they are.

Dec 20, 2012 9:52AM
"...Ooohhh what a feeling Toyota..." (80's commercial slogan)
Dec 20, 2012 10:04AM
perhaps a function of weight reduction at structural points, to up the mpg figures?
Dec 20, 2012 10:13AM
TOYotas are junk now .. too many recalls and now this .. I rather pay for a Dodge then be given a Toyota for free and I cannot stand Dodge 
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