Just two of the nine large SUVs put through the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small overlap front crash test have earned the top rating, while a number of popular models have disappointed with ‘poor’ and ‘marginal’ scores.

Two General Motors models, the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, were the only vehicles tested to score the highest ‘good’ rating, while the Toyota Kluger (badged Highlander in the US) achieved the next-best ‘acceptable’ score.

GM's engineers modified the Equinox and Terrain for the 2014 model year, strengthening their front structures and door-hinge pillars, helping them to protect the occupant compartment during the crash.

The Mazda CX-9 and Kia Sorento were among the worst of the bunch, scoring a ‘poor’ rating along with the Honda Pilot.

The CX-9 was the worst performer of the vehicles available in Australia. IIHS says the impact pushed its hinge pillar 43cm inward, bringing the 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 front airbag.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee scored a ‘marginal’ rating, matching the Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner.

The small overlap front crash test is designed to replicate a crash where 25 per cent of the vehicle’s front-end makes contact with a fixed object like a tree or a pole at 64km/h.

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