IIHS crash tests – Click above for high-res image gallery

Needless to say, the folks over at Smart USA were not pleased to see the results of the latest batch of crash testing from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS did a series of frontal offset crash tests between small and mid-size cars, one of which included a smart ForTwo versus a Mercedes C300. While the results may have been what most people expected, they don't correlate with the ForTwo's results in standardized tests where the IIHS rates the smart as good in front and side impacts. The feds at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration give the smart 4 stars on frontal impact and 5 on side impact.

The problem, as Smart USA sees it, is that the IIHS devised a test that no automaker has designed to and that they claim only represents about one percent of real world accidents. Smart has even set up a site for customer testimonials about the crash safety performance of their ForTwo. Typically in the past, Smarts have actually done quite well in similar vehicle-on-vehicle tests, such as the ones conducted by Mercedes and Auto Motor und Sport after the jump.

The fundamental issue is that car structures are very complex and their response in a crash is highly dependent on the precise nature of the vehicle-to-vehicle interface. Because of standardized tests, cars are optimized to perform well in those, just as the powertrain is optimized to maximize results on the EPA mileage tests. It's not clear at this point how the IIHS methodology varies from what has been done in the past and why the results are so much worse. One thing that's clear: this story is far from over.


  • Photo from the Institute's 40 mph frontal offset offset crash of the Yaris into a deformable barrier: The dummy's position in relation to the steering wheel and instrument panel after the crash test indicates that the driver's survival space was maintained well. The Yaris earned a GOOD rating in this test. (Tested vehicle: 2007 Toyota Yaris)
  • Photo from the Institute's 40 mph offset frontal crash of the Fit into a deformable barrier: The dummy's position in relation to the steering wheel and instrument panel after the crash test indicates that the driver's survival space was maintained well. The Fit earned a GOOD rating in this test.
  • Camry pre-crash photo
  • Yaris pre-crash photo
  • The Camry earned an ACCEPTABLE rating in this test; the Yaris earned a POOR rating.
  • Photo of the Yaris from the Institute's 40 mph frontal offset crash with the Camry: There was a lot of intrusion into the occupant compartment. The driver's seat tipped forward, and the steering wheel moved excessively. The head injury measure on the dummy rated poor, and there was extensive force on the neck and right leg plus a deep gash at the right knee.
  • Accord pre-crash photo
  • Fit pre-crash photo
  • The Accord earned a GOOD rating in this test; the Fit earned a POOR rating.
  • Photo of the Fit from the Institute's 40 mph frontal offset crash with the Accord: There was a lot of intrusion into the occupant compartment, which compromised the survival space around the driver dummy. Measures recorded on the dummy indicate that the risk of serious injury would be high in a similar real-world collision.
  • C class pre-crash photo
  • Smart Fortwo pre-crash photo
  • The C class earned a GOOD rating in this test; the Smart earned a POOR rating.
  • Photo of the Smart from the Institute's 40 mph frontal offset crash with the C class: The space around the driver collapsed during the crash. Multiple injuries, including to the head, would be likely for a real-world driver of a Smart in a similar collision.

[Source: SmartUSA]




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