Cheaper midsize cars rated safer than luxury models


New crash tests replicating some of the most deadly head-on collisions show less expensive midsize cars do a better job protecting the driver and front seat occupants than many luxury and near luxury midsize cars.

"This is a surprise to us," says Adrian Lund, President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "It shows you don't have to spend a lot of money to get state of the art crash protection."

The latest IIHS small overlap crash tests measure how well mid-size cars handle accidents involving their front quarter panels. Small overlap crashes are responsible for approximately one out of every four frontal crashes. The Insurance Institute says more than 10,000 people are seriously injured or killed in small overlap crashes every year.

Crash test aftermath of the 2013 Toyota Camry, which has a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA.The IIHS tested eighteen moderately priced midsize cars and rated two as "good" and eleven as "acceptable." The two cars rated as good by the IIHS are the Suzuki Kazashi and the Honda Accord. Lund credits Honda with making changes to the Accords design and structure so it can better withstand small overlap crashes.

Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering, also known as ACE, is the key the Accords rating of good. "The idea is to dissipate the crash energy while reinforcing the passenger cabin so the car can better withstand the impact," says Chuck Thomas, Chief Engineer of Auto Safety Research for Honda.

Here are the rankings of the midsize cars.

Good

Honda Accord (4 door)
Suzuki Kizashi

Acceptable

Ford Fusion
Honda Accord (2 door)
Nissan Altima (4 door)
Nissan Maxima
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Dodge Avenger
Chrysler 200 (4 door)
Mazda6
Volkswagen Passat

Marginal

Hyundai Sonata
Chevrolet Malibu
Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

Poor

Toyota Camry
Toyota Prius V

Has Toyota Dropped the Ball?

Adrian Lund was not surprised the Toyota Camry and Prius V both rated poor in the small overlap crash test. The Camry is based on the same platform as the Lexus ES, which is one of four luxury midsize sedans rated as poor during the same type of crash tests conducted this summer. "I think Toyota has dropped the ball a bit," says Lund. "Toyota has not been as aggressive as other automakers staying up to date on occupant safety."

Luxury Still Struggling

The first group of vehicles the IIHS put through small overlap crash tests were midsize luxury and near luxury models. During those tests, just 3 of 11 models were rated as "good" or "acceptable". The Volvo S60 and Acura tl were rated as good while the Infiniti G models were rated as acceptable. The four luxury models rated as poor in small overlap crash tests were the Mercedes C-Class, the Lexus IS, Audi A4, and Lexus ES.

Why the difference between the moderately priced midsize sedans and their more expensive counterparts? Lund says automakers have had more time to incorporate design changes in midsize models than they did with luxury models tested earlier this year.

Follow Yahoo! Autos

More Articles

  • Daily Driver: 2015 Acura TLX

    Acura's TLX may not be as sporting as models past, but it's more refined than ever. We drive it for a bit, to find out if that's enough to stave off boredom.Daily Driver videos are micro-reviews of vehicles in the Autoblog press fleet, reviewed by the staffers who drive them every day. Today's Daily Driver …

  • Giorgetto Giugiaro sells shares in legendary styling house to Audi

    Giorgetto Giugiaro and his son have sold their remaining 9.9 percent stake in Italdesign Giugiaro to Audi, and the two of them have resigned from the company that bears their name. Giorgetto Giugiaro undoubtedly stands among the great automotive designers of the 20th century, having penned the original Volkswagen Golf and …

  • Ducati Demo Day - For the Rest of Us

    For motorcycle journalists, riding the latest dream machines is a job requirement.  But for the rest of us, the chance to spend an afternoon riding a manufactures full 2015 offerings on some of the best motorcycle roads in the western hemisphere is little

  • Top 5 American Made Cars for the 4th of July

    As America gets ready to celebrate the 4th of July, it seems only appropriate to ponder this question: what cars can truly call themselves American? Which rides get to wear the red, white and blue? Well, it all depends on who you ask. The answers might surprise you. Working off various research, we have developed

  • European automakers ask for more time to make better, cleaner cars

    European automakers want proposed CO2 emissions regulations for 2025 to be pushed back a further five years. It took a long, hard fight with automakers and a major compromise for the European Commission to finally establish 2021's stricter CO2 emissions standards for the EU. Now, another battle is looming on the horizon …