Mid-size SUVs fared better than their compact counterparts in an updated crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. In the small SUV test conducted in the fall, only one vehicle out of 20 — the Mazda CX-5 — earned a good rating. In comparison, over half of the mid-size SUVs tested earned the agency’s highest designation. The results can serve as a predictor of Top Safety Pick eligibility for 2023.
Related: Here’s Every Car That Earned an IIHS Top Safety Award for 2022
Eight models fell short and six failed to earn a passing grade from the 18 SUVs evaluated using a new side impact test that simulates higher-speed crashes that cause fatalities. In lieu of the previous test that used a 3,300-pound barrier traveling at 31 mph, the updated test employs a 4,200-pound barrier that strikes the test vehicle at 37 mph. According to IIHS, the added weight better corresponds to a typical mid-size SUV, and a new honeycomb shape used for the striking surface of the barrier better replicates the front of an SUV or pickup truck.
Although the testing procedure has changed, the criteria to earn a good rating hasn’t: The vehicle’s occupant compartment must hold its shape, dummy evaluations must not show a high risk of severe injuries, and side airbags and seat belts should prevent hard contact with the interior. The structure and safety cage of the vehicle is also evaluated along with driver and rear-seat occupant injury measures that include head and neck, torso, pelvis and head protection.