New test aims to improve safety of passenger-side airbags

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 19, 2017

Automakers starting in 2018 will have another challenge to face in the crash-test contest: the passenger-side small overlap front test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which issues ratings for each car's safety, will add a new test to its routine.

This latest feather in a Top Safety Pick Plus award recipient's cap will indicate that the vehicle earned an acceptable or good score for its ability to withstand a collision in which the passenger-side corner strikes, for example, a tree or utility pole. A Compass equipped with the system avoided collisions in the 12 miles per hour and 25 miles per hour IIHS track tests.

The cars that got Good scores in the latest IIHS tests were: Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, (the outgoing model, not the new one), Hyundai Sonata, Lincoln MKZ, Mazda6, Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, and Toyota Camry. They've lengthened side-curtain airbags to gain added forward coverage and in some cases, they've extended bumpers.

The 2017 Compass earned a superior rating for its optional front crash prevention system.

Cars not making the cut included the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu, and the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta and Passat, which scored marginal, acceptable and marginal, respectively. You can do all that with confidence, now that the Compass has joined the ranks of vehicles qualifying for the Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick.

Vehicles must already earn a score of Good on all crash tests, including the hard small frontal offset crash test added about five years ago. The Outback's passenger space held up well, IIHS stated, with maximum intrusion of 4 inches at the right edge of the toepan.

The two marginal ratings were due to insufficient airbag protection keeping the passengers head from hitting the dash, according to the IIHS. "Measures taken from the dummy showed head injuries would be possible in a real-world crash of the same severity".

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