Minicars Can't Stand Up to Small Overlap Frontal Tests

By | January 22, 2014
Smaller cars have been selling more and more as gas prices rise, but the safety factor has always been questionable. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only 1 minicar out of 11 tested achieved an acceptable rating in the small overlap front crash test. This group of vehicles is the worst performing group evaluated to date. The small overlap frontal crash test may be more difficult than the head-on crash tests, but many manufacturers have found a way to improve overall vehicle structure to meet the challenge. "Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage. That's why it's even more important to choose one with the best occupant protection. Unfortunately, as a group, mnicars aren't performing as well as other vehicle categories in the small overlap crash," said Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president for vehicle research, in a recent statement. The Chevrolet Spark was the top car tested, and was one of the 2014 Top Safety Pick award winners announced in December. The Mazda 2 was right behind the Spark, but didn't manage an "Acceptable" rating in the small overlap frontal crash test. Out of the 11 vehicles tested, the Honda Fit and the Fiat 500 were the worst performers, as intruding structure compromised the driver's space. When the just-debuted 2015 Honda Fit goes on sale towards the end of this year, it will share nothing with the current car.
While the Chevrolet Spark may have performed well in this test, it's still a rather small vehicle weighing less than 2,500 pounds. Frontal crash prevention isn't offered on the Spark or other minicars, however, which has become a common safety feature on other, larger vehicles. To even qualify for a Top Safety Pick+ rating, vehicles must be equipped with frontal crash prevention. Source: IIHS