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IIHS rollover tests for midsized SUVs – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has completed a round of rollover testing on 12 mid-sized SUVs (though most are technically CUVs, but whatevs), and the results show that some carmakers are exceeding federal rollover standards. Six of the haulers scored a Good rating, led by the 2010 Jeep Liberty, one scored Acceptable, and the remaining five were Marginal. The Good rating means a tested car has a roof that is twice as strong as the current government safety standard.

Five of the top six – the Chevrolet Equinox, 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Highlander and Venza, and Kia Sorento – also scored Good marks for front-, side- and rear-occupant protection, and so earn the coveted classification of being an IIHS Top Safety Pick. If your CUV isn't listed, fear not, as the IIHS is testing them in groups.

Follow the jump for the full release, and you can have a look at the entire batch of tested vehicles in the high-res gallery below.


  • Jeep Liberty - GOOD rating
  • Jeep Liberty - GOOD rating
  • Toyota Highlander - GOOD rating and TOP SAFETY PICK
  • Toyota Highlander - GOOD rating and TOP SAFETY PICK
  • Toyota Venza - GOOD rating and TOP SAFETY PICK
  • Toyota Venza - GOOD rating and TOP SAFETY PICK
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee - GOOD rating and TOP SAFETY PICK
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee - GOOD rating and TOP SAFETY PICK
  • Kia Sorento - GOOD rating and TOP SAFETY PICK
  • Kia Sorento - GOOD rating and TOP SAFETY PICK
  • Chevrolet Equinox - GOOD rating and TOP SAFETY PICK
  • Chevrolet Equinox - GOOD rating and TOP SAFETY PICK
  • Ford Edge - ACCEPTABLE rating
  • Ford Edge - ACCEPTABLE rating
  • Mazda CX-7 - MARGINAL rating
  • Mazda CX-7 - MARGINAL rating
  • Nissan Murano - MARGINAL rating
  • Nissan Murano - MARGINAL rating
  • Honda Pilot - MARGINAL rating
  • Honda Pilot - MARGINAL rating
  • Mitsubishi Endeavor - MARGINAL rating
  • Mitsubishi Endeavor - MARGINAL rating
  • Honda Accord Crosstour - MARGINAL rating
  • Honda Accord Crosstour - MARGINAL rating

[Source: IIHS]
Show full PR text
FIRST ROLLOVER TESTS OF MIDSIZE SUVS: 5 OF 12 MODELS EARN MARGINAL RATINGS

ARLINGTON, VA (June 2, 2010) - New test results show that some automakers are doing a good job of designing vehicle roofs that perform much better than current federal rollover standards require. The roofs on other vehicles need improvement. In the first Insurance Institute for Highway Safety roof strength tests of midsize SUVs, 6 earn the top rating of good for rollover protection, 1 is acceptable, and 5 others earn the second lowest rating of marginal.

Midsize SUVs earning good ratings are the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox (twin GMC Terrain) built after March 2010, Jeep Liberty (twin Dodge Nitro), Toyota Highlander and Venza, plus the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Kia Sorento, both 2011 models. The 2010 Ford Edge is rated acceptable. The worst performers, which earn marginal ratings, are the Honda Accord Crosstour,
Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-7, Mitsubishi Endeavor, and Nissan Murano, all 2010 models.

In addition to earning good ratings for rollover protection, the Equinox, Grand Cherokee, Highlander, Sorento, and Venza also earn the Institute's TOP SAFETY PICK award. To achieve this, a vehicle has to earn good ratings for occupant protection in front, side, rear, and rollover crashes. It also has to have electronic stability control.

The rollover rating system is based on Institute research showing that occupants in vehicles that roll benefit from stronger roofs. Vehicles rated good must have roofs that are more than twice as strong as the minimum required under the current federal safety standard. The ratings, products of the Institute's roof strength testing program, add to consumer information tests that rate vehicles' front, side, and rear crashworthiness. The rollover test is designed to help consumers pick vehicles that will protect them the best in one of the most serious kinds of crashes.

"Midsize SUVs are a big group so we're testing them in stages," says Institute president Adrian Lund. "First results show that automakers are making progress in rollover protection, but it's disappointing that a new design like the Crosstour didn't perform better."

Top performance in the roof test is important because nearly 10,000 people a year are killed in rollover crashes. When vehicles roll, their roofs hit the ground, deform, and crush. Stronger roofs crush less, reducing injury risk from contact with the roof itself. Stronger roofs also can prevent people, especially those who aren't using safety belts, from being ejected through windows, windshields, or doors that have broken or opened because the roof deformed. Roofs that don't collapse help keep people inside vehicles when they roll.

The best occupant protection is to keep vehicles from rolling in the first place. Electronic stability control is significantly reducing rollovers, especially fatal single-vehicle ones. When vehicles roll, side curtain airbags help protect people. Safety belt use is essential.

In the Institute's roof strength test, a metal plate is pushed against 1 corner of a roof at a constant speed. To earn a good rating, a roof must withstand a force of 4 times the vehicle's weight before reaching 5 inches of crush. For an acceptable rating, the minimum strength-to-weight ratio that's required is 3.25. A marginal rating value is 2.5, and anything lower than that is poor. The Grand Cherokee, Highlander, Liberty, and Venza, for example, withstood forces of nearly 5 times their weights. This compares with 2.8 times weight for the Crosstour and about 3 times weight for the Endeavor and Pilot. A strengthto- weight ratio of 4 reflects an estimated 50 percent reduction in serious or fatal injury
risk in single-vehicle rollover crashes, compared with the current federal standard of 1.5.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey where are all the domestic car flamers? How come they don't flame Honda for its poor showing?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This isn't an actual rollover test but a static strength test of the roof using a platen hydraulically loaded.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, it's a static test. The IIHS site details the test procedure and shows a sample video.

        http://www.iihs.org/ratings/roof/information.html
        • 5 Years Ago
        And "thank you" Autoblog for fostering misleading information. This was not a rollover test. Moose test is a rollover test. This was a test of structural rigidity of a roof structure.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly.

        Mazda CX-7 is the best driver's car of the lot and it's manouverability is better than that of most cars.

        To get one into a the situation where "roof strenght" would come into play would require some serious emergency (or stupid) driving.

        Also, please note that the boxier the car, the stronger the roof appears to be, which goes with some basics physics of applying strength against a structure.

        So yes, when a concret block was falling on me, I'd rather be in a Liberty. But for actual driving, that is what cars are built for, I'd take the Mazda.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Are you sure? That was my first question: how are they testing it?

        Still not up to par with the German tests, but at least they are actually testing something rather than simply using an equation.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It looks as if the larger, high center of gravity SUVs -- in other words, those much more likely to roll over -- had strengthened roofs. The lower, more car like CUVs had roof strength more in line with that of ordinary cars.

      Which is actually exactly what I would expect.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe you should move beyond 1st semester engineering. STATIC rollover, such as on a tilt table, is simply a function of the track width vs. CG height. But this is NOT a realistic situation, as I'm not aware of any roll over accidents that occur when the car is sitting still.

      These tests are dynamic tests that usually involve an emergency maneuver. Under those conditions, the vehicle's behavior is determined by a complex interaction of lateral and longitudinal weight transfer, F/R weight balance, Suspension characteristics, tire characteristics, driver skill, and yes, track width and CG height.

      Simply lowering ride height is a knee jerk response that sometimes works, but often times doesn't. Even a vehicle with high ground clearance can perform well in roll over tests with proper design and tuning.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Kitko,
      My Jeep Grand Cherokee is a better handler than a Mazda CX-7 !!!
      My 425 h.p blows it away in the straights and twisties !!!
      Cant wait to see if a new SRT Grand Cherokee is in the works !!
      • 5 Years Ago
      LOL. No, you cant take away the offroading ability of the suburban housewifes. They need the ground clearance. After all, most Christmas tree lots have gravel parking lots. If they cant get a tree, there's no Christmas. Tell that to junior, Scrooge.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Even the Marginal vehicles are pretty good. The current standard ratio is 1.5, soon it'll be 3.0. But most vehicles on the lists meet the 3.0 ratio. Autoblog mentioned this last year: http://www.autoblog.com/2009/05/04/new-roof-crush-standards-reported-to-cost-automakers-1-4-billio/

      A firefighter told me he already has run into situations with newer vehicles were they had a tough time cutting the pillars to get to the victims, in some cases they couldn't cut the pillars and had to use a hydraulic lift to un-crumple the car. And every second counts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Very true. I'm not against improving standards though. I'm surprised the CX-7 scored so low. I was expecting better.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Would you rather have a firefighter retreiving dead bodies because the roof caved in and killed everyone, or have some suvivors that take a little time to get out.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It'll be nice to see an increase in the standards, although 3.0 is still well below what Volvo sets, because of the Boron steel in the safety cage, their minimum standard is 5.0...and I've even seen a demonstration where a Volvo supported 7 other Volvo's on its roof.

        All in all I am just glad to see roof strength tests being used in North America now.
        If you take a look at manufacturers that had Good ratings in 2009 but not in 2010 *cough Acura cough*...this is the reason.
      • 5 Years Ago
      OMG! I had forgotten how incredibly FUGLY the formerly decent-looking Liberty had become. Terrible!
      • 5 Years Ago
      notice the better ones where mostly American and the worse where Japanese
        • 5 Years Ago
        At any rate, they're probably all designed and built in the U.S.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good to see Chrysler not skimping out on safety in these times of turmoil!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Glad to see there were no Chevy Colorado-esque results in this group.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, or Aveo-esque, for that matter.

        I guess I'm just mostly surprised that the Liberty actually performed well at something.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wiggy, you're the stupid one if you think the Colorado or Ranger are anywhere near the truck the Tacoma is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Chrysler knows how to make safe cars...
        • 5 Years Ago
        There may have been no Colorado-esque results per se, but did anyone visit the Institute's web site and notice how the headline didn't call out the new Top Safety Pick models, but rather called out the Accord Crosstour for getting a Marginal along with 4 others? Guess their new tack is to call out the laggards since so many now do well. Ouch.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm more curious to see how they perform the roof strength test on convertibles.
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