Most Compact SUVs Blamed for Inadequate Rear Passenger Protection

The U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently updated its moderate overlap front collision test to address a growing gap in the protection provided for front and rear occupants. It found out that only two out of 15 compact SUVs, the Ford Escape and Volvo XC40, protect the rear occupant well enough to earn a good rating.

The Toyota RAV4 came away with an acceptable rating, while the Audi Q3, Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester were rated as marginal. The nine other models that were evaluated all received a poor rating including the Buick Encore, Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-5 and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

It’s worth noting that the CX-5 was the only compact SUV last year to earn a good rating in the IIHS’ new, tougher side crash tests designed to address higher-speed collisions.

As IIHS President David Harkey points out, the additional measurements provided by the new moderate overlap front crash test—with a dummy representing a small woman or 12-year-old child positioned in the second row behind the driver— show that most compact SUVs don’t provide adequate protection for the rear passenger’s head and neck, which happen to be the most vulnerable areas of the body. The Escape, XC40, RAV4 and Forester are the exceptions.

Meanwhile, the first three along with the Q3 and Rogue are the only ones to provide good protection for the chest. As for the lower body, all of the models listed above passed the test.

Front-seat occupants benefit from frontal airbags and advanced seat belts with pretensioners and force limiters. The IIHS says people sitting in the rear would also benefit from these technologies. Features like rear-seat airbags and seat belts that themselves inflate to mitigate the effects of crash forces could help, too.

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