Mid-Size Cars Struggle in New IIHS Test


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has updated its side crash test and the results for mid-size cars is, uh, not good.

Just three of seven mid-size cars earned good or acceptable ratings in the test, with only the Subaru Outback earning a “good” rating. The Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Jetta earned “acceptable marks.

IIHS says that the mid-size cars didn’t do as well on the test as small and mid-size SUVs, likely due to their lower ride height.

“With vehicles that sit lower to the ground, the striking barrier hits higher on the door panel,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “That potentially puts sedans and wagons at a disadvantage in this evaluation but reflects what happens in a real-world crash when these vehicles are struck by a higher-riding pickup or SUV.”

The head-protecting airbags for the driver and front passenger did well for the Outback, Sonata, and Jetta, but the driver’s pelvis and rear passenger’s torso were at higher injury risk in the Jetta. Same for the rear passenger’s pelvis in the Sonata.

Honda’s Accord scored a marginal rating, while the Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry were all marked as poor.

The IIHS made the test tougher to better reflect what was happening in the real world after research showed that real-life crashes were more severe than what the previous test would indicate.

The updated test uses a heavier barrier — now up to 4,200 pounds, to better approximate the curb weight of SUVs — and hits at 37 mph. The previous test involved a 3,300 lb barrier hitting at 31 mph.

IIHS isn’t yet using the test in its award criteria. That said, starting in 2023, cars will need a good or acceptable rating on the test in order to be a Top Safety Pick and a good rating to be a Top Safety Pick+.

[Image: Screenshot of IIHS’ video]

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