August 15, 2012

IIHS Launched New Small Overlap Crash Test

 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has unveiled a new kind of crash test. Instead of crash testing a car in conventional sense, which is in full frontal and 40% offset (above, left) condition, IIHS introduced a new small overlap crash test (above, right) which collides 25% of a car's front end into a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40mph (64km/h). This is to simulate a car colliding with a small pole, tree or even a car in similar fashion.

 The crash test result is dumbfounding. Out of 11 vehicles crash tested, only Volvo S60 and Acura TL earn good rating. Volvo will be glad that its reputation in safety can be retained. Infiniti G earns acceptable rating, while Acura TSX, BMW 3-Series, Lincoln MKZ and Volkswagen CC earn marginal ratings. Shockingly, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, Lexus IS and Lexus ES300 earn poor ratings.

Let's compare the Volvo S60 (good) with the Lexus IS (poor). The top 2 show the Lexus IS' occupant compartment deformed greatly into the occupants' survival space while the bottom 2 show the Volvo S60 retained its survival space relatively well. This is hugely because Volvo beefed up the upper frame rail in the front fenders (above the front wheels). The weaker Lexus IS' front wheel intruded into the driver's footwell, causing it to pin against the driver's leg. Ouch!

 If the occupant's compartment is not stiff enough to withstand the impact, the steering wheel and dashboard might move out of position, causing the driver's head to miss the airbag such as in the case of this Lincoln MKZ below. Now do you realize the importance of this small overlap crash test? Hope more car manufacturers will pay more attention in this area in the future.

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