GM SUVs Rated Best in IIHS Front Crash Test

By Jeff Plungis | April 9, 2014

General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain earned the top marks among mid-size sport-utility vehicles in a test designed to simulate one of the deadliest types of front-end collisions.

The two models earned a rating of “good” in results released today by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Toyota Motor Corp.’s Highlander was deemed acceptable. The other six vehicles tested were rated marginal or poor.

“SUVs have gotten much safer over the past few generations, but some are better than others at providing comprehensive front-crash protection,” David Zuby, IIHS’s executive vice president and chief research officer, said in a statement. “When it comes to mid-size SUVs, General Motors is showing the way forward.”

The group’s so-called small overlap test simulates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle, a tree or a pole. It’s a tougher test than those conducted by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The insurance institute’s crash tests and safety ratings are closely followed by car shoppers and industry executives, and low scores have prompted some manufacturers to redesign vehicles. The group is based in Arlington, Virginia.

GM, based in Detroit, is under scrutiny after waiting years to recall 2.59 million small cars with potentially defective ignition switches. The flaw is linked to at least 13 deaths in crashes where air bags didn’t deploy.

Marginal, Poor

The Equinox and Terrain were modified for the 2014 model year to improve their front structure and door-hinge pillars. Driver survival space stayed intact after impact, the insurance institute said.

“Having the only two mid-size SUVs that earned the Top Safety Pick Plus designation speaks to GM’s continued focus on improving our vehicles and keeping our customers safe,” Gay Kent, GM’s general director of vehicle safety and crashworthiness, said in a statement.

The worst performer among the tested SUVs was Honda Motor Co.’s Pilot, the institute said. Its parking-brake pedal moved forward 16 1/2 inches and the steering column moved 5 1/2 inches. The driver would have probably suffered hip injuries, IIHS said.

Besides the Pilot, the four other SUVs to receive a “poor” rating were Mazda Motor Corp.’s CX-9, Ford Motor Co.’s Explorer, the Sorento made by Kia Motors Corp. and the Toyota 4Runner. Chrysler Group LLC’s Jeep Grand Cherokee was rated “marginal.”

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