The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety introduced its new small overlap frontal crash test last year, and while a number of cars have passed the test with an "Acceptable" rating, the 2014 Subaru Forester is the first vehicle to ace the test with a "Good" rating. A total of 13 small crossovers and SUVs were subjected to the more rigorous testing procedure, and only the Forester and the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport drove off with the highest Top Safety Pick+ rating.

Two of the worst-performing vehicles that were called out in this group were the Nissan Rogue and Jeep Wrangler, which were the only two not to receive a Top Safety Pick Rating. The Jeep Patriot did earn that distinction despite not performing well in the small overlap test. To be named a Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn top ratings in front, side, rear and roof-strength tests, while a Top Safety Pick+ requires four out of five to be "Good" ratings with the fifth no worse than "Acceptable;" the Forester received "Good" ratings in all five tests. Scroll down for a video showing how the Forester and some of its competitors performed in the small overlap test, along with a press release.
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Redesigned Subaru Forester aces tough new crash test; only 2 of 13 small SUVs tested earn Top Safety Pick+

ARLINGTON, Va. - The 2014 Subaru Forester is the first vehicle to ace every aspect of the challenging small overlap front crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Forester, the only one of 13 small SUVs to earn an overall rating of good in the test, and the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, which earns acceptable, are the latest vehicles to qualify for the Institute's recently inaugurated top honor, Top Safety Pick+. Each of the other 11 SUVs earns either a poor or marginal rating.

"With the redesigned Forester, Subaru's engineers set out to do well in our new test, and they succeeded," says Joe Nolan, the Institute's vice president for vehicle research. "This is exactly how we hoped manufacturers would respond to improve protection for people in these kinds of serious frontal crashes."

This is not the first time that the Forester has stood out in a new IIHS crash test. When the Institute first rated small SUVs for side protection in 2003, the Subaru model performed the best and was one of only two to earn good ratings.

IIHS added the small overlap test to its lineup of vehicle safety evaluations last year. It replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or a utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. A 50th percentile male Hybrid III dummy is belted in the driver seat.

Most vehicles today are designed to do well in the government's full-width front crash test and in the Institute's moderate overlap front test, but that is no guarantee of good performance in a small overlap crash. In a 2009 IIHS study of vehicles with good ratings for frontal crash protection, small overlap crashes accounted for nearly a quarter of the frontal crashes involving serious or fatal injury to front seat occupants. In many vehicles the impact at a 25 percent overlap misses the primary structures designed to manage crash energy. That increases the risk of severe damage to or collapse of the occupant compartment structure. Also, vehicles tend to rotate and slide sideways during this type of collision, and that can move the driver's head outboard, away from the protection of the frontal airbag.

Those difficulties were apparent in the small SUV group. Two-thirds of the vehicles had poor ratings for structure, and about half of them were poor or marginal for restraints and kinematics, meaning the dummy's movements weren't well-controlled to prevent contact with hard surfaces.

In one example of poor structure, the front pillar of the Nissan Rogue's door frame was pushed far inside the occupant compartment and after the crash was almost touching the driver seat. The Jeep Patriot was among the worst for restraints and kinematics. The dummy's head slid off the frontal airbag as the steering wheel moved 8 inches up and nearly 6 inches to the right. The side curtain airbag didn't deploy, and the safety belt allowed the dummy's head and torso to move too far forward.

In contrast, the Forester had good ratings for structure, restraints and kinematics, and all four injury measures on the dummy. The airbags worked as intended, and the space around the dummy was well-maintained. The Outlander Sport was acceptable for structure and restraints and kinematics and also had good injury measures.

The Forester and the Outlander Sport bring the number of Top Safety Pick+ winners to 20. The award is based on performance in the small overlap front test, as well as in the moderate overlap front, side, rollover and rear tests. To qualify, a vehicle must earn good ratings in 4 of the 5 tests and no less than acceptable in the fifth.

IIHS continues to award Top Safety Pick (without the "plus") to vehicles with good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, rollover and rear tests, regardless of their small overlap ratings. Of the small SUV test group, nine earn TOP SAFETY PICK, including the BMW X1 and the Buick Encore, which are new to the U.S. market for 2013. The others are the Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V, the Hyundai Tucson and its twin, the Kia Sportage, the Mazda CX-5, the Volkswagen Tiguan and the 2014 Patriot. The 2013 Patriot also qualifies for Top Safety Pick when equipped with optional side torso airbags. Another small SUV, the 2013 Toyota RAV4, earns Top Safety Pick, but it won't be put through the small overlap test until later this year. Toyota asked for the delay so it could make changes to the RAV4 to improve performance in the test.

The test group also includes the Rogue and the Jeep Wrangler 2-door. Aside from the Forester, all small SUVs tested are 2013 or 2012 models. The small overlap ratings of the 2012 vehicles carry over to 2013 models because no significant design changes were made.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      godwhomismike
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was hoping to see why the Kia Sportage, which is what I currently drive, scored a poor. Less than one year until I turn it back, and get a new Forester XT. Safer, faster, better fuel economy, and significantly better in the snow.
        godwhomismike
        • 1 Year Ago
        @godwhomismike
        Found the test results, with photos: http://www.iihs.org/ratings/rating.aspx?id=1816&seriesId=430
          godwhomismike
          • 1 Year Ago
          @godwhomismike
          From the IIHS, about the Kia Sportage: Analyzing the impact from left to right:: Action shot taken during the small overlap frontal crash test. The dummy's position in relation to the door frame, steering wheel, and instrument panel after the crash test indicates that the driver's survival space wasn't maintained well. During the crash, the dummy's head and torso barely contacted the airbag before sliding off to the left, and the seat belt allowed the dummy to move too far forward, as is evident from the gap between the seat back and the dummy's torso. Parking brake pedal (not visible), instrument panel, and door hinge pillar intrusion was extensive as the left front wheel was forced rearward during the crash. (The tire can be seen below the dummy's ankle.) This intrusion contributed to a significant risk of injury to the left knee and a moderate risk to the left lower leg. Cliff Notes: You can possibly lose your left leg below the knee in that type of accident. Also, can suffer severe skull damage as "The side curtain airbag did not deploy, leaving the dummy's head vulnerable to contacts with side structure and outside objects."
      British_Rover
      • 1 Year Ago
      You need to update that headline. The Forrester isn't the first vehicle to ace that test and not even the first SUV. I guess it is the first small SUV as it is smaller then the Volvo XC60.
      Andy M
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mitsubishi... didn't see that one coming. IIHS Small SUV ratings chart at http://www.iihs.org/ratings/summary.aspx?class=58
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        godwhomismike
        • 1 Year Ago
        The part where the cabin intrusion into the BMW X1 caused the driver's right foot to be trapped was a bit eye opening.
        Cross
        • 1 Year Ago
        Thanks for the List WMB!! People always complaining about how ugly a Subaru "Looks," but when it comes to matters like this, Subaru builds their vehicles based more on functionality, as opposed to adding gadgets and gimicks most people don't end up using anyway. They are designed like this for a reason. Subaru is the best at what they do in terms of safety, amongst other things they specialize in (Awd, boxer engine etc...). Notice how the "Nicer looking" vehicles have the "poorest" ratings. Check out their history of Crash tests here: http://www.carscoops.com/2013/05/subaru-shows-quick-video-history-of.html
      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mathematically, the rating is inversely proportional to the appearance of the SUV. Forester got the Good rating, CR-V for Marginal rating, and Tuscan got Poor rating
        luigi.tony
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        Hardly, the Tuscon is awful. Looks like a hunching dog taking a dump. So it's poor rating fits.
      wilkegm
      • 1 Year Ago
      For a little reading on the test being performend: http://www.iihs.org/ratings/frontal_test_info.html It bothers me a little that they use a non-deformable barrier. a vehicle to vehicle collision should be like a deformable barrier hit, as in the moderate overlap test.
      Essende
      • 1 Year Ago
      The question I have is how come the Outlander Sport wasn't included in the headline? BIased against Mitsubishi?
        GR
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Essende
        The video states that the Forester got a "Good" rating. The Outlander Sport got an "Acceptable". Other must have got "Marginal" or "Poor".
        GR
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Essende
        I forgot to add that the headline stated that the Forester "aced" the crash tests. The car aced it because the car was the only one to get the top "good" rating on all tests. So no bias against Mitsu.
      traction_control
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think the Acura TL was the first car to get a Good rating. The Volvo S60 got a Good rating too, but it was tested shortly after the Acura –so technically the Acura was first. The Volvo XC60 was the first SUV to get a Good rating in the new small-overlap test. So the Forester is not the first vehicle or first SUV to get a Good rating. But congrats to Subaru anyway. Well done!
      bleexeo
      • 1 Year Ago
      In other words, if you're going to be in a collision go full frontal.
        wilkegm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bleexeo
        Absolutely right- if you're gonna hit something, hit it going foward, with the whole car. Unfortunately, there's rarely time to react in that repsect. This test has the entire industry in an uproar right now, since models that just started their design life cycle will be expensive and heavy to modify to meet the test. The problem is that there just isn't much of substance on the outer edge of most cars. Only in a vehicle that relys on the inner fender to carry structural load, or by using a strong bumper or butress in front of the wheel can the loads be transferred into the body structure effectively. Otherwise, the facia, wheel/suspension, and fender pretty much peel away w/o dissipating much energy. Subaru's unique powertrain geometry may well be an important factor in scoring well on this test. The engine cradle is very wide (for the boxer arrangement) and reaches well forward of the front axle. I would be unsurprised if the Impreza/XV and Legacy/Outback also perform well.
        Drakkon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bleexeo
        If you had time to make that decision, it may be a correct one. Even if you hit half and half with the car in the other lane you would be safer.
      thummp3r
      • 1 Year Ago
      Aced means Aced... In the words of the IIHS: "The 2014 Subaru Forester is the first vehicle to ace every aspect of the challenging small overlap front crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)." The "Good" rating may include what some would call a "B" grade. Specifically, looking at the results for the Volvo XC60, which has been often cited here, the actual language from the IIHS includes: "Restraints/dummy kinematics — The dummy’s movement was well controlled. The dummy’s head loaded the frontal airbag, which stayed in front of the dummy until rebound. The side curtain airbag deployed but does not have sufficient forward coverage to protect the head from contact with forward side structure and outside objects. The side torso airbag also deployed." Although the rating was "GOOD" in all respects, this may be the difference between "the first to ACE", and the first "GOOD". Just my 2 cents.
      munkymonkjr
      • 1 Year Ago
      But Autoblog, this is simply not true. The Suzuki Kizashi passed it with GOOD last year - http://www.iihs.org/ratings/ratingsbyseries.aspx?id=704
        MJC
        • 1 Year Ago
        @munkymonkjr
        And the Accord, among others.
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