The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just put five small cars through its more stringent moderate-overlap front crash test, and the results were not good. None of them managed to earn the agency's top rating of Good.

"In all the small cars we tested, the rear dummy ‘submarined’ under the seat belt, causing the lap belt to ride up onto the abdomen and increasing the risk of internal injuries," said IIHS President David Harkey.

The updated moderate-overlap front crash test puts an additional dummy in the car in the rear seat behind the driver. To earn top marks in the evaluation, the sensors on both occupants need to show they would be safe in a crash.

The table below shows the tested vehicles and their scores. The IIHS ratings are Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor.

Model Overall Score Driver Restraints And Kinematics Score Rear Passenger Restraints And Kinematics Score
2022-23 Honda Civic Sedan Acceptable Good Poor
2023 Toyota Corolla Sedan Acceptable Good Poor
2022-23 Kia Forte Poor Good Poor
2022-23 Nissan Sentra Poor Good Poor
2022-23 Subaru Crosstrek Poor Good Poor

In the three vehicles with Poor scores, the sensors' measurements from the rear dummy indicated a moderate or high risk of head, neck, or chest injuries.

The IIHS altered its moderate-overlap front crash after research showed that rear passengers were less safe than the folks in front. Over the years, automakers have introduced things like better airbags and advanced seat belts to keep drivers safe. These innovations haven't been applied to people in the second row, though.

In March, the IIHS put 13 mid-sized SUVs through this evaluation. Only four of them earned a Good score: the 2022-2023 Ford Explorer, 2021-2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E, 2022-2023 Subaru Ascent, and 2022-2023 Tesla Model Y.

In December 2022, the agency ran 15 small SUVs through the assessment. Of them, only the 2022-23 Ford Escape (Built After May 2022) and 2021-23 Volvo XC40 got Good scores. 

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