The newer small front overlap test has been the biggest adjustment for automakers to make in the last year; IIHS started running those evaluations in 2012. The test attempts to mimic the damage caused by a real-world event similar to striking a telephone pole or tree with a vehicle's front, where shearing damage is likely to occur. Mercedes has strengthened the front door sills in the M-Class to meet the small-overlap criteria, beginning with models built after August of 2013.
The 2014 M-Class is also the very first Mercedes-Benz model to earn a TSP+ award from IIHS, though we doubt very much it will be the last. Scroll down to read the brief IIHS press release and to see a video of the testing.
ARLINGTON, Va. - The 2014 Mercedes-Benz M-Class, a midsize luxury SUV, earns the IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ award for good performance in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and seat/head restraint evaluations.
Mercedes reinforced the SUV's door sills to improve occupant protection in small overlap front crashes for models built after August 2013.
In the small overlap front test, the driver's space was maintained reasonably well. Injury measures recorded on the dummy indicated that injuries to the left lower leg would be possible in a crash of this severity, but the risk of significant injuries to other body regions would be low. The dummy's head made good contact with the front airbag, which stayed in position during the crash. The side curtain airbag deployed and had sufficient forward coverage to protect the head from contact with side structures and outside objects.
The Institute 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.
The M-Class is the first Mercedes to earn the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award since the Institute began testing for small overlap protection in 2012. Winners must earn good ratings for occupant protection in 4 of 5 evaluations and no less than acceptable in the fifth test.