Photo (cc) by Ron Cogswell
A new kind of safety test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety caused Consumer Reports to withdraw its recommendation of four popular models.
“Introduced in 2012, the small-overlap test is designed to replicate what happens when only the front corner of a vehicle strikes an object,” such as a tree or utility pole, Consumer Reports says. “According to a 2009 IIHS study, this happens in about a quarter of frontal collisions involving serious or fatal injury to front-seat occupants, even in cars with otherwise good crash protection.”
Based on those tests, Consumer Reports no longer recommends the Audi A4, or three Toyota models — the Camry, Prius V and RAV4. In the IIHS tests, the Toyotas were 2013 models and the Audi A4 was a 2012 model.
The IIHS tests show a a wide variety of models need improvement in this area: Only 11 vehicles have earned the highest safety rating, and 15 earned a “poor” rating. “Clearly, some automakers will have to change their vehicles’ designs to do well in this test,” Consumer Reports says.
The four models mentioned above all scored “poor.” Consumer Reports didn’t need to drop the other cars with that rank because it was already withholding a recommendation on them for other reasons. You can search car safety by make and model on the IIHS website.