Mid-size cars kick luxury butts

2012-12-20 10:19

WASHINGTON – It seems bigger luxury car aren’t always better choices. The the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that moderately priced 2013 mid-size cars out-performed most luxury models in a new and tougher frontal crash test.

The Detroit News reported that of 18 mid-size family cars evaluated, two Japanese products earned the top rating of good - the Honda Accord and Suzuki Kizashi.


The institute said 11 earned acceptable ratings, three were marginal, and two — Toyota's Prius V and Camry, the latter being the best-selling car in America — were poor.

By contrast, only three of 11 mid-size luxury and near-luxury cars evaluated in the inaugural round of tests earned good or acceptable ratings.

Adrian Lund, institute president, said: "It's remarkable that this group of mid-size family cars did so much better than the mid-size luxury car group. The difference is stunning - 13 of these mid-size cars offer better crash protection than all but three of their luxury counterparts, and at prices easier on the wallet."

The IIHS, an Arlington, Virginia, industry-funded group that encourages automakers to build safer cars, awards "Top Safety Picks". It lists its mid-size winners as the Dodge Avenger and its twin, the Chrysler 200 four-door; Ford Fusion; Honda Accord two-door; Honda Accord four-door; Kia Optima; Nissan Altima four-door; Subaru Legacy and its twin the Outback; Suzuki Kizashi and Volkswagen Passat.

Two previously tested luxury models, the Acura TL and Volvo S60, won.


According to the Detroit News, the new "small overlap test" imitates what happens when a front corner of a car collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole.

In a 2009 IIHS study of vehicles with good ratings for frontal crash protection, small overlap crashes accounted for nearly a quarter of the frontal collisions involving serious or fatal injury to front-seat occupants.

In the test, 25% of the car's front end on the driver side strikes a 1.5m rigid barrier at 65km/h.

Honda, it was reported, engineered both versions of the Accord to perform well in the test. Ford and Nissan made running structural changes to 2013 models to meet the test, while Subaru and VW changed airbag control modules on the production line so curtain airbags would deploy for better head protection.

IIHS said the Toyota Prius v and Camry were the worst performers in the new test. Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons noted that the tests were "more severe or specialised tests which go beyond federal requirements. With this new test, the institute has raised the bar again and we will respond to the challenge."