The best-selling Camry was one of only two cars to get ... The best-selling Camry was one of only two cars to get a "poor" grade in a new safety test performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (Photo courtesy Toyota).
Earlier this year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety introduced a new crash test for vehicles, one that focused on what happens when the front corner of a car collides with another vehicle or object.

The first results from the new test were announced Thursday, and brought surprising results.

The best selling passenger car--Toyota Camry, and the best selling hybrid car--Toyota Prius, both earned "poor" ratings on the small-overlap front test. They were the only cars tested to earn that dubious distinction.

"Toyota engineers have a lot of work to do to match the performance of their competitors," Adrian Lund, IIHS president, told Bloomberg News.

The Suzuki Kizashi and Honda Accord won the only two "good" ratings. Suzuki vehicles have sold so poorly, though, for years that the Japanese company is in process of leaving the U.S. market. It certainly is ironic that Suzuki scored so well. Not only is the company pulling up stakes in the U.S., but the company's previous SUVs--the Samurai and Sidekick were, for years, heavily criticized for safety shortcomings.

The IIHS says that front-corner accidents are responsible for almost a fourth of all front-crash fatalities, which is why the new test is so significant.

The cars tested by IIHS are rated on a scale that ranges from good, acceptable, marginal or poor. Overall, the Camry received marks of "good" for roof-strength, side impact and moderate overlap front crash results. The Prius V received the same marks.

Lund says that five automakers have already made structural and restraint changes to their vehicles since the IIHS announced the addition of the small-overlap test earlier this year.

Thirteen car models earned Top Safety Pick+ awards from the institute, the highest possible rating.

The news capped a bad week for Toyota. On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a $17.35 million fine against the Japanese automaker, the largest penalty it has ever levied. NHTSA alleged that the company failed to report a safety defect in a timely manner.

The case involved a June 2012 recall that involved the potential for accelerators to be stuck because of unsecured floor mats.Toyota made no admission of guilt in reaching the settlement.


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