IIHS: Only three luxury SUVs perform well in new test

The updated format checks how rear-seat passengers fare in a frontal offset crash

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has several crash tests designed to evaluate the safety of passengers in different interior positions. It recently updated its moderate overlap front crash test to include a dummy in the back seat, with the goal of determining how well vehicles protect rear passengers. Many trucks and other vehicles fell short in the testing, but the IIHS recently noted that three luxury SUVs performed well.

The Lincoln Aviator, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, and Volvo XC60 grabbed the IIHS’ top “Good” score in the test. Two others, the Audi Q5 and Lexus RX, scored “Marginal” ratings, while the Cadillac XT6 brought up the rear with a “Poor” score.

A “Good” rating in the new test means there was no excessive risk of injury to the dummy’s head, neck, chest, or thigh. The “person” must remain in the correct position and cannot slide under the lap belt during the impact. The IIHS also noted that the seatbelt must hold the dummy in place, preventing forward motion and a collision with the front seatback. 

All of the SUVs did a good job protecting front-seat passengers, but the vehicles that earned lower scores in the moderate overlap test had issues with dummies sliding under seatbelts and coming too close to the front seatback. The Aviator’s belt let the dummy’s head come closer than desired to the front seats, while the GLE’s rear dummy’s sensors indicated an elevated risk of head or neck injuries.

The IIHS also updated its side-crash test in 2021 to account for the heavier vehicles that rule the roads. Its updated evaluation uses 82 percent more impact energy than before and requires a “Good” rating for the car to earn a Top Safety Pick +. The change knocked several previously award-winning models off the list, though some are still awaiting evaluation under the new test.

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