The IIHS tested 15 popular small SUVs to measure injury to rear-seat occupants in moderate front overlap collisions.

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

December 14, 2022

15 Slides

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is renowned for its ongoing series of ever-tougher crash tests of new cars when the organization rams a car into a barrier or another car and gauges the impact forces on a crash test dummy behind the wheel.

For the first time, IIHS is doing that same familiar moderate-overlap frontal impact test, but this time with the addition of a crash test dummy in the rear seat to see how that fares during the crash.

Because safety scores focus on injuries to the drivers’-seat dummy, it should come as no surprise that carmakers have optimized to succeed at that test. This is illustrated by the fact that all 15 small SUVs in the test scored a difficult-to-achieve “Good” rating for all of the front-seat scores in this test. The lone exception is an “Acceptable” score for driver’s seat leg & foot injuries for the Chevrolet Equinox.

But in the rear seat things went dramatically worse, with only two of these vehicles earning an overall “Good” score for rear-seat safety, followed by a single “Acceptable” score, two “Marginal” scores, and nine vehicles whose rear-seat safety is rated as “Poor.”

In all nine poor-rated vehicles, injury measurements indicated high risks of head, neck and chest injuries for the rear passenger, and the seat belt exerted excessive force on the chest of the second-row dummy. 

Related:How the IIHS Offset Crash Test Works

“The original moderate overlap test was our first evaluation and the lynchpin of the Institute’s crash testing program,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “Thanks to automakers’ improvements, drivers in most vehicles are nearly 50 percent less likely to be killed in a frontal crash today than they were 25 years ago. Our updated test is a challenge to manufacturers to bring those same benefits to the back seat.”

Click through our slide show to see which vehicles fared the best, and the worst, in this new test.

About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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