The 2013 Honda Civic got a “Top Safety Pick +” rating after crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the first time the IIHS has given its highest ranking to a compact car.
The Insurance Institute, a non-profit research organization funded by the insurance industry, last year instituted tougher standards to get its top safety ratings, adding a requirement that a car get a “good” rating for four of 5 crash scenarios, and no worse than “acceptable” on others.
The IIHS also included a new “small overlap” crash test designed to simulate a car hitting a pole or another vehicle with just 25% of its front end. Such collisions can bypass the structural reinforcements engineered into a car’s body to dissipate crash forces. The IIHS says small overlap crashes account for about a quarter of the front crashes that result in serious injury or death to people riding in the front seats.
Since the Institute began counting the small overlap test, car makers have been rushing to re-engineer vehicles to pass it.
Honda says it used a second generation of its “ACE” body structure on the redesigned 2013 Civic, reinforcing the front end to get a “good” rating on the IIHS small overlap test. Volvo, a unit of China’s Geely, reprogrammed the software that controls its airbags so that the side curtain airbag would deploy in the small overlap test, the IIHS said. That earned the XC60 a “good” rating on the test.
Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln MKZ sedan and the Mazda6 sedan both got “acceptable” ratings on the small overlap test, and “Top Safety Pick +” ratings overall, the IIHS said. Ford made changes to the bodys structures of the 2013 MKZ and it’s mechanical sibling, the Ford Fusion, aimed at achieving better scores on the violent small overlap test, the IIHS said.
The Institute is doing more rounds of small overlap tests, and has said results for small sport utility vehicles, a popular category, will be released in the spring.