General Motors finally has something to celebrate about. The 2014 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain aced the latest round of small overlap front crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety among nine midsize SUVs, and they both scored a Top Safety Pick+ accolade. However, Honda, Mazda and Kia fared badly with their entries earning Poor ratings in the Overall safety category.

The Equinox and Terrain were the only vehicles among those tested to score Good ratings in every category of IIHS testing. The group praised updates to 2014 models that strengthened the front structure and door-hinge pillars, which helped keep the dummy's movement in check.

The Toyota Highlander was actually tested in December 2013 but results were included in the recent test. It also scored Top Safety Pick+ rating but received only Acceptable results in the organization's Overall, Structure and Restraints and Kinematics categories. To earn the award, a vehicle must have Good or Acceptable scores, plus offer some form of front crash prevention technology.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner and Ford Explorer all received Marginal scores in the Overall category, and the Kia Sorrento, Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot had Poor scores. The Pilot showed one of the worst examples of intrusion into the cockpit in the test when the parking brake pedal moved inward more than 16 inches, and the steering column moved over 5 inches to the right.

The new small overlap front crash test replicates a collision where 25 percent of the front end strikes a barrier at 40 miles per hour. It focuses a lot of energy into a small area, which makes it a very difficult test of a vehicle's integrity. Scroll down to see videos from each of the crash tests and read the full results.
















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Midsize SUVs disappoint in small overlap front crash test

The Chevrolet Equinox and its twin, the GMC Terrain, are the only midsize SUVs out of nine evaluated to earn a good rating in the IIHS small overlap front crash test, which continues to challenge manufacturers more than a year and a half after its introduction.

The Equinox and the Terrain qualify for the Institute's highest award for 2014, TOP SAFETY PICK+. The Toyota Highlander, a midsize SUV whose acceptable small overlap rating was announced in December, also qualifies. The award is given to vehicles with a good or acceptable small overlap rating, good ratings in four other occupant protection tests, and a rating of basic or higher for front crash prevention.

Three other midsize SUVs in the test group rate poor for small overlap protection, and three are marginal.

"SUVs have gotten much safer over the past few generations, but some are better than others at providing comprehensive front crash protection," says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer. "When it comes to midsize SUVs, General Motors is showing the way forward. The Equinox and Terrain score well in all components of the small overlap test - structure, restraints and kinematics, and injury measures for four body regions."

The small overlap test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver's side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph.

The test is more difficult than either the head-on crashes conducted by the government or the longstanding IIHS moderate overlap test. In a small overlap test, the main structures of the vehicle's front-end crush zone are bypassed, making it hard for the vehicle to manage crash energy. The occupant compartment can collapse as a result.

The Equinox and Terrain were able to overcome this challenge, thanks to modifications on 2014 models to their front structure and door-hinge pillars. In the test, which was conducted on an Equinox but applies to the Terrain as well, the driver space was well-maintained, and the dummy's movement was well-controlled. The dummy's head hit the frontal airbag and stayed there. It would have been a perfect test performance if the side curtain airbag had provided more forward coverage. As it was, there was a gap in the inflated portion, which, in a slightly different crash, could leave the head vulnerable to hitting the door or intruding objects.

The Honda Pilot was the worst performer in this group. The driver's space was seriously compromised by intruding structure. In the worst instance, the parking brake pedal moved inward 16½ inches. The dummy's head barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off the left side, as the steering column moved 5½ inches to the right. Measures taken from the dummy showed injuries to the left hip would be likely in a crash of this severity, and injuries to the left knee and both lower legs would be possible.

A structure that can withstand a crash is the most fundamental aspect of occupant protection. In addition to the Pilot, four other midsize SUVs received a poor rating for structure. One of them, the Mazda CX-9, saw its hinge pillar pushed in 17 inches, bringing the left front wheel even with the dummy's knee. The side airbag didn't deploy, and the door frame ended up so far inside the occupant compartment that the dummy's head struck it after sliding off the frontal airbag. In the Ford Explorer, the door hinge pillar was nearly severed from the door sill.

In five vehicles, the dummy's head barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off it. Only the Equinox/Terrain and the Toyota 4Runner tests showed good engagement with the frontal airbag. In the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the dummy's head for the most part stayed on the airbag, but too much give in the safety belt allowed the head to move toward the intruding A-pillar.

For the first time in 2014, a good or acceptable rating for small overlap protection, along with good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, is a requirement for TOP SAFETY PICK. The Equinox, Terrain and Highlander earn the higher accolade of TOP SAFETY PICK+ because each is available with an optional front crash prevention system.

The Highlander earns an advanced rating for front crash prevention. Its system includes both forward collision warning and an automatic braking function that reduced speeds by more than 5 mph in IIHS tests at 12 and 25 mph. The Equinox and the Terrain have warning systems only, and thus earn a basic rating for front crash prevention.


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  • 49 Comments
      Jesus!
      • 8 Months Ago
      So much for that fantastic Japanese engineering....
        Get a life
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Jesus!
        A little research would make you sounds less ignorant. Of all the vehicles tested, Japanese brands account for 21 top safety picks plus. Honda has the most safety plus rated vehicles. For the record, I am not a Honda fan. Domestic cars had 5. Euro cars accounted for 5. So out of 31 safety plus ratings, the Japanese ended up with 21 vehicles taking top honors. I would say that's fantastic. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings
          kontroll
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Get a life
          yeah, you should get a life...japanese cars are garbage. LOOK AT TOYOTA WITH THE TRILLIONS OF RECALLS
          hokkaido76
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Get a life
          @kontroll: really living up to the latter half of your username, aren't you?
          Get a life
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Get a life
          Troll, You're an idiot. The facts are posted. With that argument, GM much be real crappy since they have recalled 6 million cars in the US . Toyota even with their recall today hasn't caught GM for recalls this year. So based on your argument then American cars must be crap. The most deaths associated with a recall goes to Ford. The largest recall in history goes to Ford, followed by GM http://www.autoinsurancecenter.com/largest-recalls.htm The most recalls issued by an auto manufacture? The winner? Ford, Followed by GM, Chrysler, and then Toyota. http://www.allworldauto.com/recalls/ The most models recalled for 2014......GM http://www.allworldauto.com/recalls/
      jps0429
      • 8 Months Ago
      Great news for GM, glad to hear this
      • 8 Months Ago
      [blocked]
        Karfreek
        • 8 Months Ago
        The current gen Honda Pilot was released in 2008 for 2009. Long before this test was started. If you watch the video he even states that the Equinox was strengthened for this test. Makes you wonder if a 2011-2013 Equinox would do as well.
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Karfreek
          [blocked]
          chanonissan
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Karfreek
          @ Karfreek the 2013 rogue was design in 2007 for 2008 and it got marginal in the test and the suzuki car was made around that time , also pass. The 2014 rogue pass the test. So it is irrelevant if even it was made in 2008.
          Karfreek
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Karfreek
          yonomo200 - I agree and based on what I see the Pilot is off the list as considered for me. So is the Equinox as an imediate family member has one and im not impressed. Im sure the next gen Pilot will pass with no problem. SYMAWD - Good point. Honda also admits they made Tweaks to the 2014 Odyssey so that it would perform better on this test, so they could have done the same. Maybe it was not that simple and maybe the cost effective decision as to wait for the next gen Pilot like they did with the Fit. chanonissan- lets agree to disagree.
      Vinuuz
      • 8 Months Ago
      Waiting for Aaron_mt and the honda/acura fanboys to come on the forum and say IIHS tests are rigged.
      Koenigsegg
      • 8 Months Ago
      My Smart ED with no front end holds up better those midsize SUV's and yet my car is a deathtrap? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
      leo
      • 8 Months Ago
      Good for gm, but the twins belong one class down with the Rogue and such others...and the Rogue also aced the test... I would say older vehicles like the cx9 and pilot were never designed for this test, and the explorer and highland are the real disappointment since they were designed with this test in mind.... looks like Toyota has dropped the ball big time with not one vehicle able to pas this test with high scores...
        CH
        • 8 Months Ago
        @leo
        The point, Leo, is that the Pilot and CX-9 should have been designed for these kinds of collisions even if there wasn't a test. The XC90, XC60, S80 and S60 were all designed before the test existed, yet they all the aced the test without any structural changes, That's the difference between designing for real world safety versus merely studying for the test.
      carguy1701
      • 8 Months Ago
      Take THAT, East Saint Louis!
      SKINNYwithNOfood
      • 8 Months Ago
      Honda disappoints on the test but in sure 13 people won't lose their lives over it though. *cough chevy
        Mbukukanyau
        • 8 Months Ago
        @SKINNYwithNOfood
        Considering how old the twins are, Now going on 5 years, I would say GM has done a pretty good job engineering those.
          Jasonn
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Mbukukanyau
          If you read, it was the 2014 updates in the strength of the frame that helped it score well. 4-5 years ago they probably wouldn't have done as well.
        b.rn
        • 8 Months Ago
        @SKINNYwithNOfood
        Skinny, this is exactly why people loose their lives in crashes.
      iutodd
      • 8 Months Ago
      I don't understand why the Kia isn't a bigger story. It was just redesigned for 2014 and still failed. The brand new Forte also failed the small overlap test.
        merlot066
        • 8 Months Ago
        @iutodd
        The Kia is far from the best seller in the segment. Safety is a huge factor when buying family vehicles like these.
      Avinash Machado
      • 8 Months Ago
      Kudos GM.
      Karfreek
      • 8 Months Ago
      1. Where is the Terrain video? It's not even on the IIHS site. All they have listed under the Terrain is the equinox video. The wedge shape of the Equinox makes it glance off the barrier and not really impact it. I guess it plays by the rules but makes you wonder what it would secondarily hit with the speed it keeps going with. I am curious to see how the squared off nose of the Terrain would behave in this test. It sounds to me like the Terrain got a free pass because the equinox did well. 2. Why is the Equinox being tested against these SUVs? It's not in the same class. The Equinox is in the same class as the CRV and RAV4. The Traverse should be tested against these SUVs. 3. Why does the side air bag not go off on the Mazda? Seems like something is not right there.
        Jesus!
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Karfreek
        The Equinox is quite a bit larger than the rav4, escape, etc. In fact, I think it has better rear legroom than my Grand Cherokee, though at the expense of rear cargo room. Chevy really does not have an suv to compete with the small ones, they are kind of in the middle in between small and large suv with the Equinox then you go up to either a Tahoe or the large bland one(cant remember the name of it...).
        SYMAWD
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Karfreek
        1. Do you really think the weak sheet metal is what made it glance off the barrier? No, it is the underlying structure that bounced off the structure which is the same as the Terrain. 2. I'm not positive but I believe due to interior space of the Equinox, it might be classified as mid-size. 3. What's not right is Mazda did not design for them to go off in this scenario.
          Karfreek
          • 8 Months Ago
          @SYMAWD
          1. That is why I wanted to see the Terrain video to see if in fact it did behave the same. But it seems that the IIHS went with the assumption that both would perform the same. I would have to do more digging to see if the terrain uses the same impact beam behind the bumper as the Equinox. That could make a difference on how the Terrain performs. I think that the IIHS should bite the bullet and actually test a Terrain before it says it passed, or if it did host the video so we can see it. 2. The more I dig it seems the Equinox is considered midsized. My Mother in Law has a 2012 and I would not call it midsized but I know its a numbers thing. 3. I think we both agree on that one.
      Radioactive Flea
      • 8 Months Ago
      i don't really consider the Equinox mid size.
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