DETROIT, May 16 (Reuters) - Most of the small SUVs tested for safety in crashes did not fare well in more stringent tests performed by an influential U.S. safety group in results issued on Thursday.
The 2014 Subaru Forester was the only one among the 13 small SUVs, also called crossovers, on the U.S. market tested that achieved a “good” rating in a new front crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the IIHS said.
Subaru’s parent company is Fuji Heavy Industries.
The Mitsubishi Motors Outlander Sport received an “acceptable” rating on the new portion of the IIHS tests and joined the Forester as the only two small SUVs to get the top IIHS award of a “Top Safety Pick+.”
Six of the vehicles tested scored “marginal” on the new portion of the tests and five tallied a “poor” rating, the IIHS said.
The IIHS raised the rigor of its tests last year to include crashes that involve only a front corner of a vehicle. The IIHS said 24 percent of U.S. front-of-vehicle crashes that result in serious injury or death involve only a single corner that strikes another object.
The IIHS continues to score vehicles on side, rear, rollover and front-end crashes that impact more than just a corner.
Nine of the small SUVs tested scored well enough to earn “Top Safety Pick” status using the older criteria of IIHS testing.
Of the 13 vehicles tested, only two did not receive the “Top Safety Pick” status - the Jeep Wrangler made by Chrysler Group LLC and the Nissan Motor Co Rogue.
Chrysler is majority owned by Fiat SpA.
The nine models that received the “Top Safety Pick” status were the BMW X1, the Buick Encore from General Motors Co, the Ford Motor Co Escape, the Honda Motor Co CR-V, the Hyundai Motor Co and its twin the Kia Motors Corp Sportage, the Mazda Motor Corp CX-5, the Volkswagen AG Tiguan and the Jeep Patriot from Chrysler Group.
Also receiving the “Top Safety Pick” status was the Toyota Motor Corp RAV4, but it did not undergo the new front corner crash test. Toyota asked for more time to prepare its RAV4 for the more stringent test, which it will undergo late this year, the IIHS said.
Vehicle manufacturers in the U.S. market often design and engineer their models to score well on IIHS safety tests and use the results in their marketing.
Most of the 13 small SUVs tested were already in production before the IIHS increased the rigor of its front crash test last year.
“Small SUVs are becoming the family haulers of choice because they don’t guzzle fuel like many of their predecessors, but these tests results show that most automakers have some work to do to improve protection in frontal crashes,” IIHS said when it released its findings.
For 2012 models, before the IIHS increased the rigor of its testing, 73 percent of 180 models tested received the highest rating.