Car Industry

CR-V, Forester, RAV4, XC40 ace IIHS pedestrian-detection test

But the BMW X1 and Mitsubishi Outlander fared poorly in avoiding dummies.

IIHS

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its latest batch of test results on Thursday, showing how well popular new crossovers' pedestrian-detection systems work. The IIHS put 11 models from the 2018 and 2019 model years through a series of tests to see whether and how well the cars' safety systems brake to avoid hitting pedestrians.

The IIHS rated the vehicles as follows: The top Superior rating went to the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 and Volvo XC40. The Advanced rating was awarded to the Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage and Nissan Rogue. The Mitsubishi Outlander scored Basic, the second-worst result, and the BMW X1 was at the bottom of the list with a "No Credit" score.

The RAV4 was one of four crossovers to earn the IIHS' highest Superior rating.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The IIHS used three separate tests to evaluate the crossovers' performance. In the first test, an adult-sized dummy walks into the roadway ahead of the oncoming car, with the test performed with the car driving at both 12 and 25 miles per hour. In a second test, which is run at the same speeds, the dummy is instead a child, which "runs" out from between two parked vehicles in front of the car. And in the final test, vehicles travel at 25 and 37 mph as they approach a pedestrian who's walking along the roadway in the same direction the vehicle is traveling (called the "parallel test").

Passing those tests wasn't easy for the crossovers. The Forester and RAV4 were the only models to avoid hitting the dummy in each of the first two tests. The XC40 managed to stop in the adult test at 12 and 25 mph, and in the child test at 12 mph.

"The best possible outcome is to avoid hitting a pedestrian altogether," David Aylor, IIHS manager for active safety testing, said in a statement. "When a crash is unavoidable, sharply reducing a vehicle's travel speed would give someone on foot a far greater chance of surviving any injuries in a similar real-world encounter with a passenger vehicle."

The Mitsubishi Outlander and BMW X1 showed the worst performance. The former only managed to slow by about 19 mph in the 25-mph parallel tests and by 11 mph in the 12-mph child test, with "only minimal speed reductions" in other tests. The X1 "had minimal to no speed reductions" in most tests and didn't brake at all in the 37-mph parallel test.

Pedestrian-detection systems are important -- pedestrian fatalities remain high on American roads. The IIHS says that such fatalities in 2016 were at the highest level since 1990, though they declined by 2 percent in 2017. Still, with IIHS studies showing that distracted driving is still prevalent and that General Motors' automatic emergency braking tech reduces crashes, there's ample evidence that pedestrian-detection features could help save lives.