A half-dozen compact cars have earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick+ honor, the nonprofit vehicle-safety advocacy group announced today. Of the 12 models evaluated, top awardees included the two- and four-door versions of the 2013 Honda Civic, 2013 Dodge Dart, 2013 Ford Focus, 2013 Hyundai Elantra and 2014 Scion tC. All of these received Good or Acceptable ratings overall in five different crash tests.
Six other cars — the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic, 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, 2013 Volkswagen Beetle, 2013 Nissan Sentra, 2013 Kia Soul and 2014 Kia Forte — earned Marginal or Poor ratings. "In some cases dummies' heads struck hard structures like the windshield pillar and instrument panel," IIHS media relations associate Kristin Nevels said in a statement.
The IIHS introduced the "plus" designation last year when it added a fifth test to its battery, the small overlap front test, which replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or a small-diameter object such as a tree or utility pole. Top Safety Pick+ awardees must get good ratings in four of five evaluations and no less than acceptable in the fifth test; vehicles are rated Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor based on performance in moderate overlap front crash, small overlap front crash, side impact and rollover tests, in addition to evaluations of the seats' and head restraints' effectiveness in protecting occupants against neck injuries in rear impacts.
These latest six vehicles bring the total earning top honors to 25. Small cars are the fourth group to be tested; previous groups were midsize luxury cars, midsize cars and small SUVs; results for minicars are expected to be released later this year. The Toyota Corolla was excluded from the test because the automaker is releasing the redesigned 2014 model this summer, IIHS reported.
"As a group, small cars fared worse than their midsize and moderately priced counterparts in the same test but better overall than small SUVs," IIHS said in a statement.
Below are the 12 cars that were tested, in order of how well they performed overall in the IIHS small overlap front test:
• 2013 Honda Civic (four-door), Good
• 2013 Honda Civic (two-door), Good
• 2013 Dodge Dart, Acceptable
• 2013 Ford Focus, Acceptable
• 2013 Hyundai Elantra, Acceptable
• 2014 Scion tC, Acceptable
• 2013 Chevrolet Sonic, Marginal
• 2013 Volkswagen Beetle, Marginal
• 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, Marginal
• 2013 Nissan Sentra, Poor
• 2013 Kia Soul, Poor
• 2014 Kia Forte, Poor