• Apr 8, 2014
Here's some news regarding the safety of General Motors vehicles that will actually reassure some car owners instead of frightening them.

Two midsize SUVs made by the beleaguered company earned a top industry safety award Tuesday, withstanding a key new crash test better than their competitors. The Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, structural twins, earned "good" rankings on the small-front overlap test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

They were the only two SUVs out of nine tested to earn the "good" ranking. On the other end of the rankings, the Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot all received "poor" grades.

"SUVs have gotten much safer over the past few generations, but some are better than others at providing comprehensive front crash protection," said IIHS executive vice president David Zuby. "When it comes to midsize SUVs, General Motors is showing the way forward."

The rankings are a bright spot on GM's safety record, which has otherwise been eviscerated in recent weeks, as documents in multiple federal investigations have revealed the company ignored a known safety defect for more than a decade while at least 13 people were killed in related car accidents. Investigations are ongoing.

Both the Equinox and Terrain received "good" marks on all IIHS safety tests, which earned them Top Safety Pick + status, the nonprofit organization's top overall recognition. The Toyota Highlander earned an "acceptable" rating on the small-front overlap test and good marks on all others, which is also enough to earn Top Safety Pick + status. (Full results here).

IIHS introduced the small-front overlap test two years ago as a means to gauge what happens when the front corner of a vehicle hits another vehicle or object such as a tree or utility pole. In the test, the front quarter of a vehicle strikes these barriers at 40 miles per hour.

The test is particularly important because frontal safety features in many cars are often located toward the center, and the forces in these types of crashes can bypass those features and injure or kill occupants. Up to a quarter of deaths and injuries in frontal crashes are sustained in these sorts of crashes, says IIHS.

Cars have become safer in recent years, as automakers improved structural performance. But they haven't quite caught up with the small-front overlap performance, and the test has quickly become a key measure of differences in safety performance from one vehicle to another.

In a test of smaller SUVs conducted last year, only the Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned "good" rankings, while popular vehicles like the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 earned "poor" grades. In January, only 1 of 11 cars in the "mini" car category even earned an "acceptable" grade.

In the case of the Equinox and Terrain, GM made modifications on 2014 models to the front structure and door-hinge pillars. IIHS says these changes helped maintain the cabin's space during the crash test, and that the crash-test dummy's head hit the front airbag and stayed there.

In contrast, the driver's space in the Honda Pilot was "seriously compromised by intruding structure," IIHS wrote, noting the parking brake pedal moved inward by 16.5 inches, and that the dummy's head barely contacted the front airbag before sliding off the left side. Researchers concluded the dummy showed likely injuries to the left hip and possible injuries to the lower legs.

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at peter.bigelow@teamaol.com and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      I think all these recalls are nothing more then some political non sense within the car companies. If all these cars over my lifetime were as horrible as they have all claimed. By now you should be seeing cars just randomly flying off the road a hundred times a day while you are out driving, by the way these idiots make it seem like its carmageddon out there on daily basis.
      • 8 Months Ago
      So what they had good crash score. Oh I know now in case ingition screws up crash shouldn't be as bad ya right
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'm not sure if the public is aware that the majority of parts for GM, Dodge and Ford are from overseas. There is no such thing as "an American made" car. If memory serves me correctly, the foreign cars have recalls on them, too. Another thing is that the majority of cars being built are not actual human beings. It's humans that program the computers. Quantity has taken over quality.
      • 8 Months Ago
      yrs. ago I owned a 93or 94 Buick Roadmaster.. I loved that car.. I had 4 oil leaks. w/ 3,000 miles on the car.the dealer refused to fix.. After many phone calls,, I finally had to take them to the BBB.. long story short.. the BBB man said.. to the GM rep. What is GM's policy on these oil leaks.." he said fix them.. Ihey took the car.. took it to another dealer,, had it for a week.. came back oil leak free..( bought the car in Ypsilanti, Mi. they refused to fix it.. ) The GM man suggested I leave it w/; a Buick dealer in AA.. except for a few more things.. the AA dealer fixed my car from then on..
      • 8 Months Ago
      everything the O gets involved with turns to crap!
      Rodger Blake
      • 8 Months Ago
      Tired ofshadyobama has doubts about GM but they didn't just recall MILLIONS like Old Jap Crap Toyota did now did they tired. Besides the ignition switches on the GM cars were made by Jap or Chinese Crap workers.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Obviously the media has a problem when it gives more credibility to GM ('GM Catches a Break") than the human beings that they (GM workers) knowingly set up to be killed. GM committed murder for profit and now we are to applaud them for making minor safety improvement? The hypocracy is deafening . . . .
      • 8 Months Ago
      My parents bought the Chevy Equinox in September 2013. I have to say, we were all quite impressed with it. We considered Mazda, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Kia, Subaru, and Hyundai. We liked the GMC and Chevrolet the best. They decided on the Chevrolet simply because they preferred the style versus the GMC. If these two are any indication, GM is doing MUCH better than in years past. Hope it continues.
      Doug MacKinnon
      • 8 Months Ago
      Did you ever notice that BUICK has not been re-called for anything? I've had 3 Buicks and wore them all OUT and cried when I had to trade! (for another Buick!)
      • 8 Months Ago
      For sure our corporations put the bottom line first over any other matter. They even knowingly distribute tainted food and decide to deal with backlash later only if it gets noticed....if not then they are ahead of the game. Everyone does it ....slum lords, etc. It's the capitalistic way
      • 8 Months Ago
      I used to be a Chevy, GM person. Chevy used to be all about American "Like apple pie" but now they have taken our bailout money and sold out to China...I'm out ...good riddance GM you deserve to fail for selling out America.
        • 8 Months Ago
        My new chevy was made in Kansas, the list on the window claims 87 % american parts, what cars are made in China by chevy? Thats bull crap put on the internet by people who drive foriegn cars
      • 8 Months Ago
      Ford has great safety ratings. Hasn't helped sales at all.
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