Car Industry

IIHS to consider passenger-side small-overlap test after crossovers fail to protect

Because why add expensive reinforcement if safety watchdogs aren't testing for it?

The RAV4 was one of the worst performers in this unofficial test, with pretty severe intrusion into the cabin.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) created its small-overlap crash test, automakers scrambled to build reinforcements to ensure its cars continued to score highly. But the IIHS only tested the driver's side, and after testing several small crossovers, it's realized that automakers aren't extending the same protection to passengers.

Given the results of its unofficial test, the IIHS is now considering implementing passenger-side small-overlap tests to extend the same safety to both front-seat occupants. It could be a requirement for its Top Safety Pick award as early as 2018.

The IIHS took seven small crossovers that scored "Good" on the driver-side small-overlap test, which involves running a car into a barrier covering just 25 percent of the vehicle's width. When testing the passenger side, only one crossover scored at the same level -- the 2016 Hyundai Tucson.

Three cars scored "Acceptable" -- 2015 Buick Encore, 2015 Honda CR-V and 2015 Mazda CX-5. The 2014 Nissan Rogue and 2014 Subaru Forester scored "Marginal," and the 2015 Toyota RAV4 earned a "Poor" rating. Granted, these cars didn't actually earn any rating, as the test doesn't officially exist, but these results might have changed that.

Engineering and re-engineering cars is not a cheap endeavor. In an effort to maintain safety while keeping costs down, many tend to adopt a "C's get degrees" mentality, wherein they'll do the minimum work required to earn scores that won't turn off buyers. The IIHS regimen is not an official part of the federal crash-test battery, but from an optics standpoint, its scores are still very important.