The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released the results of the latest series of their crash test for small cars. As expected, most of the new models sailed through the tests with no hardship, but there was a couple of surprises, like the performance of the 2013 Kia Forte.
The new Forte is a car you’d naturally expect to be a Top Safety Pick, as it is a modern design built by a large car maker who has a good record of making safe and sound cars – at least in recent years. But the Forte failed to achieve even an average rating in IIHS’s important small overlap crash tests.
The Forte, along with the Kia Soul and Nissan Sentra, are the only cars to get the worst possible score of “poor”. A brief look at the picture above helps you understand the depth of the tragedy here. The Forte is practically destroyed by a 40mph crash.
In comparison, look at the 2013 Honda Civic below – the only car to get the highest score of “good” in the tests. You can see that the driver side door is not even bent, which means the force of the impact has not reached the cabin – which means the occupants of the vehicle are well protected.
“The small cars with marginal or poor ratings had some of the same structural and restraint system issues as other models we’ve tested,” says David Zuby, the Institute’s chief research officer. “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. All of this adds up to marginal or poor protection in a small overlap crash.”
Other small cars tested in this series, including Dodge Dart, Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Scion tC, all earned an “acceptable” rating, which means they can still be qualified for Top Safety Pick award.
“Manufacturers need to focus on the whole package,” Zuby says. “That means a strong occupant compartment that resists the kinds of intrusion we see in a frontal crash like this, safety belts that prevent a driver from pitching too far forward and side curtain airbags to cushion a head at risk of hitting the dashboard or window frame.”