Due to the popularity of small, fuel-sipping cars, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has smashed up some of the newest offerings. And, as if you needed further proof to get optional side air bags on your next car, the minimally-bagged Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Scion xB and Toyota Yaris all got poor ratings while the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit, both with standard side airbags, and the Yaris with optional side bags, got top ratings in side crash testing

The Accent and Rio both come with standard air bags, but the tests showed significant driver injury was possible. Pity the xB owners who don't even have a choice of side air bags. The IIHS said that during testing, the xB's dummy's head actually struck the crash barrier. That's gotta hurt.

The IIHS also mangled a 2006 MINI Cooper and a Chevy Aveo with standard side bags. The MINI got an acceptable rating, while the Aveo scraped by with a marginal, just above poor.

Despite the Fit's remarkable side crash results, the Honda's front airbag didn't perform properly during the frontal crash. Honda says Fit owners can expect a recall to address the airbag's early-deployment.

For an IIHS summary of all the small cars tested, click here. For an IIHS summary video, go here.

[Source: The New York Times, The Associated Press via wcnc.com]