Mazda should be beaming as much as the front-end of their Mazda3s with the recent announcement from Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). The 2011 Mazda3 has made the IIHS “Top Safety Pick.” The Mazda3 earns the top rating of “Good,” in front, side, rear and rollover crash tests—all while having standard electronic stability control. This is a welcome rating compared to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rating, but we will get to that in a moment because there is a catch.

Yes, catch. The catch here is that the IIHS “Top Safety Pick” only applies to Mazda3s built after December 2010. The delineation between pre-December 2010 and post-December 2010 is created by changes made by Mazda to the roof structure that improves the roof strength. Oddly enough, the 2010 Mazda3 also scored well in the IIHS crash testing, but according to US News didn’t receive the “Top Safety Pick” status due to the lack of electronic stability control. As mentioned above, that is now a standard feature for the 2011 model. So everything is rosy right? No so fast, we still have the NHTSA rating to look at.

In an interesting difference, the NHTSA shows the Mazda3 as performing well in some crash tests, but poorly in others. Both the four- and five-door models achieve a four out of five stars overall. They also achieve a five-star frontal and four-star rollover rating. Where it starts to go south, in the NHTSA tests, is the side impact test. The Mazda3 was rated as having two out of five stars. The cause of the poor rating during side impact crash tests stems from injuries sustained to rear-passenger crash-test figures. The tests indicate that spinal injuries would be likely in real life situations.

Bottom line—the 2010 and 2011 Mazda3 are safe cars. The 2011 model has added features that have made it surpass the bar and be deemed a “Top Safety Pick” by the IIHS. The next hurdle is to get the NHTSA on the same page in respect to the side-impact ratings.


[Source: US News]