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Honda Civic IIHS crash test - 1

The Honda Civic has taken the top two spots in the latest round of the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) small overlap front crash tests involving small cars.

Covering 12 of the North American market’s best-selling small cars, the crash tests resulted in half earning a ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’ rating, qualifying them for the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.

The highest ‘good’ rating went to the two- and four-door Honda Civic – the only small cars to earn the Institute’s top rating.

Honda Civic IIHS crash test - 2

The Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and 2014 Scion tC were the next best, earning ‘acceptable’ ratings.

The Chevrolet Sonic, Volkswagen Beetle and Chevrolet Cruze all earned a ‘marginal’ overall rating, with the Nissan Sentra and Kia Soul registering ratings of ‘poor’.

The 2014 Kia Forte (Kia Cerato) was the worst performer overall, receiving ‘poor’ ratings for restraints and kinematics as well as structure.

Kia Forte IIHS crash test - 1

The Institute says it did not test the Corolla because Toyota plans to release a redesigned 2014 model in August.

According to a release from the IIHS, “The latest results highlight how some automakers are designing models to perform well in the demanding small overlap test. At the same time, other automakers have more work to do.”

IIHS chief research officer David Zuby said manufacturers needed to focus on the whole safety package, including strong occupant compartments that resist frontal crash intrusion, seatbelts that prevent drivers pitching forward and curtain airbags that cushion the head from dashboards or window frames.

“In the worst cases safety cages collapsed, driver airbags moved sideways with unstable steering columns and the dummy’s head hit the instrument panel. Side curtain airbags didn’t deploy or didn’t provide enough forward coverage to make a difference,” Zuby said.

“All of this adds up to marginal or poor protection in a small overlap crash.”


The Institute added the small overlap front test to its line-up of vehicle evaluations last year, replicating what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or a telephone pole. In the test, 25 per cent of the vehicle’s front end on the driver’s side strikes a barrier at 64km/h.

In May, the Subaru Forester became the first vehicle to score top marks in the Institute’s unique test, though the IIHS has also evaluated midsize luxury cars, midsize cars and small SUVs. Results for mini cars are to be released later this year.

Small car small overlap front crash test results:

  • Honda Civic (four-door): Good
  • Honda Civic (two-door): Good
  • Dodge Dart: Acceptable
  • Ford Focus: Acceptable
  • Hyundai Elantra: Acceptable
  • Scion tC (2014): Acceptable
  • Chevrolet Sonic: Marginal
  • Volkswagen Beetle: Marginal
  • Chevrolet Cruze: Marginal
  • Nissan Sentra: Poor
  • Kia Soul: Poor
  • Kia Forte (2014): Poor