New IIHS Side Crash Test: Disturbing Sedan and Wagon Results


Insurance Institute for Road Safety

  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) continues to roll out its new side crash tests, this week releasing video and other information about seven sedans and wagons the IIHS recently tested.
  • The short version: Maybe it’s time to rethink how smaller vehicles are built in the age of super-wide trucks and SUVs with their taller ride heights.
  • Only the 2022 Subaru Outback (pictured above) earned the highest rating of Good, while the Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry all scored Poor in the new test. Subaru’s four-door sedan, the Legacy, was not included in this test batch.

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety revised its side impact test again, and the latest batch of seven sedans and wagons tested by the IIHS did not perform well. Only the Subaru Outback managed to earn the highest good rating, while the Volkswagen Jetta and Hyundai Sonata (pictured below) earned acceptable ratings. The other four vehicles tested were the Honda Accord, which received a marginal rating, and three which received a mediocre rating: the Chevrolet Malibu, the Nissan Altima and the Toyota Camry. All vehicles tested were from model year 2022.

      volkswagen jetta 2022

      Michel SimariCar and driver

      2022 hyundai sonata front exterior


      The IIHS announced in November 2019 that it would change its side impact test to better reflect real-world crashes where a large SUV or pickup truck hits a smaller vehicle. The IIHS said the side impact test it uses has been in place since 2003 and automakers have designed their vehicles to pass it. This meant that customers could not tell which vehicles were performing better in a crash. The IIHS believes its updated test will force similar changes in the automotive industry in the future.

      “We expect automakers to respond to our updated parallel test, delivering increased occupant protection and producing safer vehicles for consumers,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement. video about the new test results.

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      The new IIHS sideways test uses a 4,200-pound moving barrier programmed to hit the driver’s side of the vehicle being tested at 37 miles per hour. Previously, the barrier weighed 3,300 pounds and hit the car at 31 mph. When the test began, “many SUVs on the road were close to that weight, but have since gotten much heavier,” the IIHS said in 2019.

      The larger size and higher speed of the new test barrier means it generates 82% more energy than in the original test. By using two female mannequins seated in the driver’s seat and in the rear seat behind the driver’s seat, the new test can better determine the degree of cabin intrusion during an actual crash. The IIHS said female crash test dummies have been in use since 2003 and were chosen for this test to see how well side airbag coverage works for smaller occupants.

      iihs 2022 side crash test results

      Insurance Institute for Road Safety

      At the end of 2021, the IIHS used its new side crash test on a batch of 20 small SUVs. Among those tested, only one, the Mazda CX-5, obtained a good mark.

      The seven sedans and wagons tested with the new procedure will not have their new results used in the 2022 criteria for the IIHS awards. But, starting in 2023, the IIHS will only award Top Safety Pick honors to vehicles that score Good or Acceptable in this test, while Top Safety Pick+ will require a good rating.

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