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Small SUVs struggle in new crash test

<i>Insurance Institute for Highway Safety</i><br/>The Honda HR-V earned a
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The Honda HR-V earned a "poor" rating in crash test.

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

Several small SUVs struggled in a new side crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, with just one out of the 20 vehicles tested earning the agency’s highest rating.

This year’s results included an updated side crash test that uses a heavier 4,180-pound barrier traveling at 37 miles per hour to simulate the striking vehicle, which the institute said is “close to the weight of today’s midsize SUV.” In total, it’s about 80% more energy compared to its predecessor.

“We developed this new test because we suspected there was room for more progress, and these results confirm that,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a press release.

The results were optimal for the 2021 Mazda CX-5, which earned the highest rating of “good.” Nine vehicles earned “acceptable” ratings including the Audi Q3, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4. Two vehicles received the worst rating of “poor”: the Honda HR-V and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

The IIHS pointed out that the Honda HR-V’s B-pillar — a vertical roof support that’s typically located between the front and rear doors — tore away from the frame, allowing the vehicle’s side to “crush inward almost to the center of the driver seat.” The vehicles that earned the lowest ratings “generally struggled with both structural issues and high chest and pelvis injury measurements from both dummies.”

Side-impact accidents accounted for 23% of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2019, the IIHS said. It recommends car makers to strengthen horizontal door beams and adjust airbags to provide more cushioning.

“There’s no single reason why so many side crashes still result in fatalities, but these results provide a roadmap for specific improvements that can save lives,” said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller.

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