Fusion, Altima Get IIHS Top Safety Pick 'Plus'; Prius V, Camry Fall Short

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Ford and Nissan are celebrating the results of the latest round of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing--but rival Toyota won't be quite so joyful.

The 2013 Ford Fusion and 2013 Nissan Altima have earned a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS, a new level above the previous Top Safety Pick standard.

It's awarded to vehicles which take into account a new small overlap crash test, which involves a 25 percent overlap into a rigid crash barrier.

The test is designed to account for accidents where the primary crash protection structures are missed, instead putting much of the impact directly through the front fender and wheel well area.

The expectation is that accidents such as these cause greater footwell intrusion, with risk of wheels and suspension components being forced backwards--and extra points are given to vehicles which still offer good protection.

Small offset crashes are said to account for nearly a quarter of frontal accidents resulting in serious or fatal injury to driver or passenger.

'Poor' results for Toyota

While the Fusion and Altima picked up the "+" symbol for an acceptable performance (and the Honda Accord and Suzuki Kizashi picked up the top, "good" rating), two of Toyota's models fared poorly.

While both the Toyota Camry (and hybrid, by extension) and Toyota Prius V wagon both pick up an IIHS Top Safety Pick award, both scored poorly in the small overlap testing.

In the Camry, the accident forced a wheel back into the footwell, bent the windshield pillar, and pushed out the parking brake pedal. It also shifted the steering column to a point where the dummy's head made only minimal contact. The side curtain airbag wasn't large enough to prevent the dummy's head from hitting the pushed-forward instrument panel.

The Prius V fared badly too, with "significant intrusion" into the footwell and high forces on the dummy's legs and feet. Worse still, the side curtain airbag fired too late to offer protection.

Adrian Lund, IIHS president, said "Toyota engineers have a lot of work to do to match the performance of their competitors."

In contrast to both Toyotas, which receive Top Safety Pick ratings but not "+" ratings, the Suzuki Kizashi remains the odd one out--scoring very well in the small overlap tests, but missing out on a regular Top Safety Pick due to only acceptable rollover performance.

You can find more details on the latest round of crash testing on the IIHS website.


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Comments (15)
  1. I'd like to thank the IIHS for raising the bar on crash performance. I look forward to automakers addressing these crash issues in future models.

  2. The new crash seems to make a lot of current "good" cars fare fairly poorly.

    But after analyzing some of its videos, I do have some question about it method of testing.

    In the new "offset" crash, I saw the vehicles with more "bounce off" the crash barrier performing better than the vehicles that do NOT "bounce off".

    I think IIHS need to improve this test to make sure all the crash are "apple-to-apple" comparison. Some of the vehicles have more curved front where on the impact, the vehicle skids more to the right causing less energy to dissipate on the vehicle itself. That will reduce the amount of energy the vehicle would have to absorb...

    It is just an observation.

  3. Xia, your observations is ignorant and false. Only one new test on a small minority of new vehicles.

    When in doubt and instead of speculating, go to the source. IIHS has a good report on this specific subject:
    -- Make sure to watch the video too.

    Good descriptions of all their tests here:

    As you will see in the links above, all the crashes are apples to apple Xia. How the vehicles hit n come off the barrier is determined by the vehicles...not the testers.

    I expect more from you Xia since you have previously demonstrated a good technical background and usually good questions based on facts n not on easily dismissed speculation.

  4. I watched the exact video of all the luxury cars in those test. If you watch the video on Acura TL. It appeared that the TL "bounced" off the crash barrier much more than the rest of the sedans. That will help reduce amount of energy the vehicle have to absorb.

    Keep in mind that crash tests are tricky. A slight difference in crash point, angle or even structural on the point of contact will impact the result signficantly.

  5. If I remember it correctly, the Lexus models did NOT do well either in the new IIHS testing. Acura TL and Volvo both did well. Infiniti did okay. BMW, Mercedez and Lexus all did POORLY.

    I guess Toyota has some SERIOUS work to do on their "safety" rating.

    Just recently, a Prius veered across 4 lanes of traffic and crashed into the side of Toyota Sienna Minivan near the foothill of Lake Tahoe before Thanksgiving. It end up killing 3 out of 4 people in the Prius and 1 child in the Minivan...

    I certainly will NOT buy a Toyota until it can demostrate that its safety ratings haven't slipped...

  6. Xia, again...speculation or trying to paint a broad brush on a report that only gives a little bit of info. That is just ignorant and incorrect conclusions from you...you should do better.

    Only two Toyota models were tested on one new partial offset test...that's it. The Camry n V scored good in all other tests to attain n retain their Top Safety Pick status from IIHS. Obviously this new test Toyota has not designed or engineered for n they need to improve those vehicles asap.

    Your collision example does not enlighten us at all since no years of the models, speeds, collsion directions, etc. are given. Therefore it is not related to these tests.

    The question you should be asking is: What will your Volt score in this new test?

  7. The IIHS did do the new test to the entry luxury sedans as well. BMW 3-series, Mercedez C-class, Volvo S60, Acura TL, Lexus IS300 and Infiniti G-series were all tested in the new frontal offset crash. Lexus did poorly as well.

    I would like to find out how my Volt scores in this new test as well. But so far, my Volt has done better than Prius Plugin in all the test despite the extra 500lbs in weight.

  8. Both 2012 Lexus IS and ES did poorly in the test. Just about EVERY models made by Toyota/Lexus that has gone through the new test so far have done poorly. Sure, it doesn't mean every Toyota/Lexus model will do poorly beside those already tested, but it doesn't look good from the evidence so far, does it?


  9. "Your collision example does not enlighten us at all since no years of the models, speeds, collsion directions, etc. are given. Therefore it is not related to these tests."

    A simple Google on that news would give you many of the details. There are limits of letters per post.

    Sure, it doesn't mean much to every accidents, but the fact is that the family in the Prius didn't fare well at the end.

  10. Oh and a Prius V is not the same as a Prius.

    It will be interesting to see if Toyota jumps on this problem asap so 2013 or at least 2014 models score well or will they just wait till the redesigns come for these n other poor scoring vehicles to remedy these problems. Hopefully, for our safety, they n other not good scoring auto manufacturers address these problems asap!

  11. How much difference is there between the front end of the Prius and Prius V?

    care to explain to me? (I know the total weight is different but are there any structural difference in the front of the vehicle where the crash matters?)

  12. I don't want any auto makers to make cars that are unsafe. That is one reason that I have been highly critical of CODA due to its safety suspicision. However, I feel that Toyota sometimes designs things just so they can "pass" certain tests. It is a marketing thing (also very typical in the Japanese engineering world that I face everyday at my work). Its Prius Plugin lost 1 star due the increased weight simply b/c its 150 lbs increase in weight. That is a warning sign as well. "design to the margin with no safety margins". Pushing "specs" to meet the requirement of the test with no margins are very typical of what I see in my work with some of Asian competitors...

  13. First line of third paragraph in Toyota section should have the word collision n not accident. There was no accident plus there were not even drivers during these tests. Incidents or collisions are the new terms to use btw. Accidents implies there was no way to prevent the collision why almost always there is due to human errors.

  14. This is a good evolutionary step but I wrote to IIHS a couple years ago asking for many more common sense improvements to give vehicle consumers much more information about the crash test worthiness of new vehicles. Here are a few of the most simple improvements that would lead the industry to build much safer cars within five years:
    1) Increase the current crash test speeds from 40mph for frontal n 31 for side crashes to 60 n 50 or higher. Those are more real world hwy speeds and will show bigger differences between models for crash test survival. Initially most vehicles would not score well but like the poor scoring models in the mid 90s, the manufacturers would improve the scores quickly.

  15. 2) Use a bigger n better rating system other then 4 simple words. Use numbers to show exactly what the differences are: like 81 n 98. More info is better.
    3) Actually perform the rear end crashes instead of just analyzing the geometry of the seats. This is ridiculous since IIHS doesn't take into account what happens to the rear end of the vehicle. They "simulate" a 20mph crash but they should perform a 50 or 60mph crash.

    Common sense, right? Neither IIHS nor the NHTSA have come close to adopting these.

    Honda has and still remains to be doing very well in terms of crash test worthiness. Honda started building cars a few years ago that were tops in their classes n the Accord is one of the few cars that scored best in old/new tests

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