Safety of small cars on the upswing
Representing a turnaround from previous years, when small cars generally performed poorly in crash tests, six of 13 small cars evaluated recently by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earned the highest marks for safety.
“The new ratings demonstrate that small cars are much safer than they used to be,” says David Zuby, the institute’s chief research officer.
Based on performance in front, side, rollover and rear crash tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded its “Top Safety Pick” rating to the:
• 2012 Ford Focus.
• 2012 Honda Civic.
• 2011 Hyundai Elantra.
• 2011 Lexus CT 200h hybrid.
• 2011 Nissan Juke.
• 2011 Toyota Prius hybrid.
The Dodge Caliber, Honda CR-Z and Insight hybrids; Nissan Sentra and Versa; Scion xD; and Suzuki SX4 also were rated but didn’t earn the top rating.
For the 2006 model year, only three small cars earned the “Top Safety Pick” designation: Honda Civic, Saab 9-2X, and Subaru Impreza. Now, 22 small cars, including those previously tested by the institute, have been given the “Top Safety Pick” honor.
Still, Zuby says small, lightweight cars “don’t protect their occupants as well as bigger, heavier ones. Even though fuel prices sometimes defy gravity, the laws of physics always are in effect for cars. That’s why it’s important that the crashworthiness designs of smaller cars be as good as possible.”