Just one out of 10 SUVs receives 'good' crash test rating

FILE - The 2024 Subaru Forester sports utility vehicle (SUV) at AutoMobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, US, on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.

Only one in 10 small SUVs evaluated during an updated crash test earned a "good" rating, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). 

The organization announced Thursday that it has updated its vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention test to address crashes that occur at higher speeds as well as crashes in which the struck vehicle is either a motorcycle or large truck. 

Through research and evaluation, the group works to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage in motor vehicle crashes. This latest test update, according to IIHS President David Harkey, was "vital" to one of its more successful test-run programs. 


During the updated test, the Subaru Forester was the only small SUV to earn a "good" rating, according to the IIHS. Meanwhile, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, achieved acceptable ratings.

The Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson and Jeep Compass earned marginal ratings, but the Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander and Volkswagen Taos rated poorly, according to the data.

"The vast majority of new vehicles now come with automatic emergency braking, and our research shows the technology prevents as many as half of all front-to-rear crashes," he said. "This new, tougher evaluation targets some of the most dangerous front-to-rear crashes that are still happening."


The issue is that the original vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention evaluation was developed when the technology was relatively new. As a result, the performance requirements only addressed low-speed crashes, according to the IIHS. It had test runs at 12 mph and 25 mph. When the original evaluation was discontinued at the end of 2022, all of the vehicles that were tested were earning the top rating of superior.

The group said that separate research has also shown that the systems used today are less effective at preventing crashes with motorcycles and medium or heavy trucks than they are at preventing crashes with other passenger vehicles.


FILE - A worker polishes a 2019 Subaru Forester at the New York International Auto Show, March 28, 2018 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The updated test included trial runs at 31 mph, 37 mph and 43 mph. In addition to a passenger car target, the test examined the performance with a motorcycle target and a semitrailer.

The IIHS said this new evaluation better "reflects a substantially greater proportion of police-reported front-to-rear crashes, including many that are more severe." 

However, IIHS noted that even cars that were rated "marginal" in the test still demonstrated "a higher level of performance than what was required for the highest rating in the original vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention evaluation." 


The reason the Forester was rated the best was because it avoided a collision with the passenger car target at every test speed. It also avoided hitting the motorcycle target at 31 mph and 37 mph, and slowed by an average of 30 mph before hitting the motorcycle target in the 43 mph tests, according to the IIHS data. 

The group also noted that the forward collision warning alerts on the car also came more than the required 2.1 seconds before the projected time of impact in all the trials, and also in those conducted with the trailer.

Ford told FOX Business that its 2023-24 Ford Escape "meets or exceeds all current safety regulations and requirements." 


A 2023 Ford Escape ST-Line Elite.  (Ford Motor Co.)

"We are always working to continuously improve and we consider IIHS and other third-party feedback in vehicle development," Ford said, adding that the 2023-24 model year "has a 5-star overall NHTSA rating, which is among the top on the market today."

Stellantis, which owns the Jeep brand, told FOX Business that "every vehicle meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards" and that the company closely monitors third-party ratings. 

"However, we engineer our vehicles for real-world performance. No single test determines vehicle safety," the company continued. 

Mazda noted that the company is always looking to improve its "suite of advanced driver assistance features, including the automatic emergency braking systems that IIHS has put to the test at higher speeds and with varied obstacles." 

The company said it is currently evaluating IIHS’ new front crash avoidance criteria and believes it "can achieve higher ratings in the near future."

Mitsubishi Motors North America told FOX Business that its vehicles "meet or exceed every required safety standard in the U.S., and have been recognized by IIHS for excelling in IIHS' own testing protocols." 

The company added that "the requirements of this particular test exceed any applicable safety standard" and that it remains "confident" in the 2024 Outlander's real-world safety technology, given the vehicle's IIHS Top Safety Pick rating.

General Motors, which owns the Chevy brand, told FOX Business that its "confident in the safety of the Chevrolet Equinox that achieved a 5-star safety overall rating from NHTSA’s comprehensive New Car Assessment Program." 

It also plans to incorporate the IIHS findings into its designs.

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