Third of Midsize SUVs Fail IIHS’ New Side Crash Test

Following compact SUVs last fall, midsize SUVs were recently submitted to the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new side crash test, which aims to address higher-speed collisions that continue to cause fatalities on North American roads.

While the former failed miserably, how did their bigger counterparts perform? A lot better, it turns out, but not as well as one could have wished for.

Ten of the 18 midsize SUVs in the evaluation earned a “good” rating: Ford Explorer, Infiniti QX60, Lincoln Aviator, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Atlas, Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport and Volkswagen ID.4. Two more got an “acceptable” rating, namely the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse.

Photo: IIHS/YouTube

On the other hand, six models were rated as marginal: Honda Passport, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, Kia Telluride and Nissan Murano. Considering that side impacts account for nearly a quarter of passenger vehicle occupant deaths, that’s not very encouraging.

These SUVs could in fact lose their Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award when the IIHS updates its requirements in 2023.

The IIHS now uses a heavier barrier traveling at a higher speed to simulate the striking vehicle. Instead of 3,300 pounds, the new one weighs around 4,200 pounds, which approximates the weight of most modern midsize SUVs. And instead of striking the test vehicle at 50 km/h, it hits it at 60 km/h.

The Wrangler, which does not have side airbags for the rear seating positions, earned a poor rating for passenger head protection. However, along with the CX-9 and ID.4, it was among the only midsize SUVs to earn good ratings for preventing injuries to the driver’s pelvis—the body region most frequently injured in real-world side crashes, the IIHS notes. The Palisade and Telluride each received a poor rating here.

Small SUVs also struggled with driver pelvis injuries, but they performed markedly worse than midsize models in preventing injuries to the chest or abdomen, perhaps due to their lower height relative to the striking barrier.

“A higher-riding vehicle may benefit from the barrier striking lower on its side,” says Raul Arbelaez, vice president of the IIHS’ Vehicle Research Center.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

Technology/Autonomous VehiclesNissan Developing Technology to Dramatically Prevent Collisions
Nissan is developing a new driver-assistance technology that uses highly accurate, real-time information about the vehicle's surrounding environment to dramatically enhance collision avoidance. The goal is to improve the capabilities of ProPILOT-equipped Nissan vehicles and of course tomorrow’s full self-driving cars. Called “ground truth perception," the technology fuses information from …
NewsCompact SUVs Struggle Mightily in IIHS’ New Side Crash Test
The U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has completed new, tougher side crash tests to address higher-speed crashes that continue to cause fatalities and found out that 19 out of 20 compact SUVs failed to earn a “Good” overall rating. The lone exception? The 2021 Mazda CX-5 . Nine …
NewsYoung Drivers Benefit the Most From Crash Avoidance Tech, Study Finds
A new study by the U.S. Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) confirms that crash avoidance systems benefit young drivers more than others. Researchers indeed noticed that these advanced safety features are associated with larger reductions in the frequency of collision and property damage liability claims for drivers under 25 years …
NewsWatch: Jeep Wrangler Rolls Over in Latest Crash Test
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which conducts vehicle crash tests in the U.S., has released a shocking video that shows a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited rolling over after hitting the barrier. A simple mistake? Apparently, no. The same thing happened during a second collision test with small overlap …
NewsWatch: Jeep Wrangler Rolls Over Again in IIHS Crash Test
Small front overlap crash tests performed on a four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited two years ago raised a lot of eyebrows after the vehicle hit the barrier and rolled over—not once but twice, using different methods of testing. The automaker responded by saying it did not record a rollover while conducting …
News2023 Subaru Ascent Follows Legacy, Outback With Round of Updates
Subaru has made a number of changes to its largest SUV. The 2023 Ascent will arrive in dealerships this fall with refreshed styling and more technologies the whole family will enjoy. Let’s start with the front fascia, where the revised grille and headlights are joined by a stylish new bar …
BuzzTire-Deflating SUV Haters Hitting Several Cities in the U.S.
There are many ways for people to protest against vehicle emissions, but one of them is causing some controversy in the U.S. and overseas these days. A group called the Tyre Extinguishers is going out at night deflating as many SUV tires as possible to hopefully generate enough "inconvenience and …
RecallsHyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride Recalled Due to Fire Risk
Electrical shorts threatening to cause a fire are something many Hyundai and Kia owners are familiar with, as evidenced by the various recalls to date. This week, more than 285,000 Palisade and Telluride SUVs from the 2020-2022 model year in the U.S. find themselves in that position after at least …
NewsFew Autobrake Systems Perform Well at Night, Study Confirms
Among the various advanced driver assistance features in today’s vehicles, automatic emergency braking (AEB) is arguably one of the most useful and appreciated, especially by drivers who tend to get distracted from time to time. But the technology, like so many others, has limitations. Since a high percentage of pedestrian …
Test Drives2022 Ford Explorer Hybrid: From Montreal to NYC and Back
Rising gas prices have boosted demand for electric and hybrid vehicles. Alas, three-row midsize SUV buyers have few options to choose from if they don’t want to spend all their money at pump. In fact, there are just two: the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Ford Explorer Hybrid. We’ve previously reviewed …
New ModelsThis is Honda’s Reminder That the New 2023 Pilot is Coming
Honda is going big—literally—as it wraps up its “Year of the Crossover.” The next-generation Pilot will be revealed this fall, joining the equally new 2023 HR-V and CR-V that we saw in the past few months. Once again, we get a teaser with a pair of images showing part of …
New Models2023 Honda Pilot Debuts With More Space, Rugged Looks
Following the debut of the new HR-V and CR-V , Honda’s “Year of the Crossover” is wrapping up with the reveal of the next-generation Honda Pilot . The outgoing model had barely changed since launching in 2016 and it was definitely starting to feel old in a segment dominated by …
NewsCompact Cars Get Mixed Reviews in New IIHS Side-Impact Test
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) last year implemented a new, tougher test to evaluate crashworthiness in lateral collisions. As it turned out, many compact SUVs and midsize SUVs didn’t get a passing grade. Now, compact cars are under the microscope, and the results are a mixed bag. In …
Comments