As part of standard procedure, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash-tests an example of each vehicle on sale, and assigns a rating based on how it performs.
Most are expected to get four or five stars out of five these days--while all cars meet basic minimum safety standards, there are naturally degrees of safety.
In its latest round of crash testing, the Coda Sedan scored a high-ranking five stars for side impact and rollover testing--but less impressive is its low 2-star rating in a frontal impact.
The video above (via Autoblog) reveals few details on why the Coda might have scored such a low rating, with a passenger cell that appears to remain intact, and the airbags firing as they should.
As is often the case though, there's more to it than meets the eye.
Firstly, it's good news for the passenger, whose side of the cabin got a four-star rating. But the driver gets only two stars.
While protected from the impact by airbags, the NHTSA (and other groups which measure the safety of vehicles) fit the test dummies with sensors to measure bodily contact, deceleration and other factors.
The test data doesn't give specific details on why the driver might have fared so poorly, but it's likely that limbs were at risk from cabin intrusion, or g-force loadings on the body reached high levels.
By comparison, the 2012 Nissan Leaf, while scoring one star lower in rollover testing than the Coda, scored a rating of four stars in frontal impact. The 2013 Chevrolet Volt scores similarly, with an extra star for rollover leading to an overall 5-star rating.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not yet tested the Coda, but many will now be awaiting its findings with interest.