A new study has shown that front passengers are at more risk than drivers in small SUVs, but the 2016 Hyundai Tucson makes an exception.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has conducted a fresh new round of crash testing to assess the safety of seven small SUVs, and the 2016 Hyundai Tucson ranked on top.
The IIHS looked at how well would front passengers be protected in a right-side small overlap front collision at 40 mph. The test replicates what goes on in a crash when the front corner of a vehicle hits another vehicle or an object such as a utility pole or a tree.
Among the seven SUVs tested, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson was the only one to get a good rating, while the others provided less protection ranging from poor to acceptable.
While the IIHS does not issue ratings for protection on the passenger side, it is now considering adding such a rating to its Top Safety Pick criteria.
“This is an important aspect of occupant protection that needs more attention,” says IIHS senior research engineer Becky Mueller, who led the study. “More than 1,600 right-front passengers died in frontal crashes in 2014.”
The Institute started conducting small overlap tests back in 2012, seeing as its moderate overlap front test proved successful in prompting automakers to improve their vehicles’ safety.
Moderate overlap tests involve 40 percent of the car’s width, while the small overlap covers just 25 percent. While the driver’s side seems to be well-protected in small overlap tests, the same cannot be said about the passenger’s side.
In the latest small overlap test for the passenger side, the 2015 Toyota RAV4 performed the worst. Should the IIHS issue ratings for vehicle protection on the passenger side, the RAV4 would get a “poor” rating. The 2014 Nissan Rogue and the 2014 Subaru Forester would get a “marginal” rating, while the 2015 Mazda CX-5 and the 2015 Buick Encore Honda CR-V would earn an “acceptable” rating.
While most of these vehicles showed significant differences in structural performance when comparing the driver’s side to the passenger side, three cars that were tested showed fairly similar structural performance on both the driver and the passenger side.
Following these new crash tests, the IIHS is considering adding the passenger-side small overlap ratings in 2017 and making it as a Top Safety Pick requirement in 2018. This should determine carmakers to increase passenger protection, thus boosting their vehicles’ safety overall.