When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) started rating cars based on their offset frontal crash test, it made car companies go back to the drawing board, as it was much harder than the government’s standard front crash test.
With the IIHS new small overlap front crash test, this may very well send Toyota back to revisit the design on two of their popular hybrid models, the Camry and Prius v, which both tested with poor ratings in the latest round of tests.
In the first battery of the new test which the front of the car hits a small obstacle, about 25% of the width of the bumper, the damage can be far more catastrophic than if it was a wider impact. This is because the object misses the frame of the car and impacts instead the non-structural “flesh” of the car, pushing the front wheel into the passenger compartment.
As the IIHS states in their findings, “the Camry and Prius v illustrate what can go wrong in a small overlap crash, despite good ratings in IIHS tests that qualify the cars for Top Safety Pick.”
In the test for the Prius v the survival space was seriously compromised. The side curtain airbag also deployed too late to offer protection. They measured high impact forces on the dummy’s legs and feet, and the side curtain airbag deployed too late in the crash to offer protection. All of which earned the Prius a poor rating.
With the Toyota the Camry, the impact forced the front wheel all the way back into the foot well. The intrusion bent the windshield pillar and pushed the parking brake pedal and the left outer edge of the instrument panel rearward into the driver’s survival space.
The IIHS said that the Camry’s driver airbag and side curtain airbag deployed, but the steering wheel moved so far to the right that the dummy’s head made only minimal contact. Furthermore, the side curtain airbag didn’t extend far enough forward to help prevent the dummy’s head from hitting the instrument panel.
The two Toyota vehicles performed far more poorly than other vehicles in their classes, which will likely take Toyota engineers back to their labs to start looking at ways to bolster their designs. Competitors like the 2013 Honda Accord received a “good” rating, while Kia Optima and Ford Fusion – all of which are available in hybrid models, earned only “acceptable” ratings in the new crash test.
IIHS Small Offset Crash Test results:
Honda Accord (hybrid) = Good
Ford Fusion (hybrid) = Acceptable
Kia Optima (hybrid) = Acceptable
Chevrolet Malibu (mild hybrid) = Moderate
Volkswagen Jetta (hybrid) = Moderate
Toyota Camry (hybrid) = Poor
Toyota Prius v hybrid = Poor