The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

IIHS Crash-Tests Compact SUVs for Passenger Safety

April 04, 2018

Photo of 2018 BMW X1 courtesy of IIHS.
Photo of 2018 BMW X1 courtesy of IIHS.

Five out of seven compact SUVs recently evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have earned good ratings for occupant protection in a passenger-side small overlap front crash.

Good ratings were achieved by the BMW X1, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Jeep Compass, and Mitsubishi Outlander. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned a marginal rating, and the Ford Escape was given a poor rating. 

Since 2017 when the test was first introduced, IIHS has evaluated and rated a total of 16 compact SUVs for the passenger-side small overlap front crash.

A good or acceptable passenger-side rating — along with good-rated headlights — is required in order to qualify for the Institute's 2018 Top Safety Pick+ award. While the Outlander is among the nine small SUVs that qualifies for a 2018 Top Safety Pick award, none to date have earned the "plus" award, largely due to lack of good-rated headlights.

Five of the seven recently evaluated 2018 models earned acceptable marks for structure, while the Outlander Sport was rated marginal and the Escape was rated poor. Both vehicles allowed too much intrusion into the occupant compartment on the right side.

The Escape struggled in the test, as intruding structure seriously compromised space for the right-front passenger. Intrusion measured 10 inches at the upper door-hinge pillar, compared with 5 inches in the driver-side test. The passenger-side doorsill was pushed 4 inches laterally into the occupant compartment. Measures taken from the dummy indicate that right hip injuries would be likely in a real-world crash of this severity.

Conversely, the X1's structure resisted intrusion reasonably well to maintain passenger space. The safety belt and front and side curtain airbags worked together to keep the dummy in place, and measures taken from the dummy showed there would be a low risk of injury in a similar real-world crash.

In both the Escape and the Outlander Sport, the side curtain airbags failed to deploy — earning them marginal and poor ratings, respectively, for restraints and kinematics. Without side airbag protection, the right front passenger would be vulnerable to contact with side structure and outside objects in a small overlap front crash.

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