Late last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made its moderate-overlap front crash test more challenging by considering the safety of a passenger in the second row sitting behind the driver. The agency just put 13 mid-size SUVs through the evaluation. Only four of them received the best rating of Good.

"All these vehicles provide excellent protection for the driver, but only a handful extend that level of safety to the back seat," said IIHS President David Harkey.

From best to worst, the IIHS awards the ratings Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor. The table below shows each model's overall score in the updated front crash protection test:

Model Score
2022-2023 Ford Explorer Good
2021-2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E Good
2022-2023 Subaru Ascent Good
2022-2023 Tesla Model Y Good
2022-2023 Chevrolet Traverse Marginal
2022-2023 Toyota Highlander Marginal
2022-2023 Volkswagen Atlas Marginal
2022 Honda Pilot Poor
2022-2023 Hyundai Palisade Poor
2022-2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Poor
2021-2023 Jeep Wrangler Four-Door Poor
2021-2023 Mazda CX-9 Poor
2021-2023 Nissan Murano Poor

The IIHS decided to update the moderate overlap front crash test because research indicated that automakers weren't making the same safety gains for second-row passengers as for folks up front. For 2007 model year and newer vehicles, the info indicates that the risk of fatal injuries is 46 percent higher for folks in the rear than in the front.

The updated test puts a dummy that represents a small woman or 12-year-old kid behind the driver. Sensors let the testers know if there is a risk of injury to the simulated person's head, neck, chest, abdomen, and thighs. The restraints must prevent the head from striking pieces of the interior and keep the body from sliding forward below the lap belt.

The IIHS still evaluates vehicle safety for the front occupant, too. It found issues with three of these vehicles. Sensors showed the driver of the VW Atlas was at risk of significant injuries to the right leg. For the Chevrolet Traverse, the dummy's head hit the steering wheel through the airbag. The driver's side airbag didn't deploy in the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

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