Most mid-size SUVs miss the mark in IIHS rear-seat crash tests

Most mid-size SUVs miss the mark in IIHS rear-seat crash tests

Many people buy SUVs as their primary family carriers, with major automakers packing them with technology and entertainment features for rear-seat passengers. But it looks like more investment will need to be made in rear-passenger safety. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Most mid-size SUVs provide inadequate front crash protection for rear-seat passengers.” It’s based on a new test to evaluate rear-seat crash protection.

The research showed that automakers’ safety innovations focused too heavily on front-seat passengers. The IIHS notes that people sitting in the back seat are 46% more likely to be killed in a crash than those sitting in the front. This led the organization to develop a new test.

Engineers place a child-sized dummy behind the driver’s seat and use sensors to determine whether it is subjected to forces that could injure various body parts. Testers add paint to the head of the dummy to determine whether the vehicle’s head restraints protect against impact and to gauge how well the seatbelts hold passengers in place. IIHS then ran each SUV through a standard moderate overlap front crash and looked at the results.

Of the 13 SUVs tested, only four earned a “good” score: the Ford Explorer and Mustang Mach-E, the Subaru Ascent and the Tesla Model Y. The Chevrolet Traverse, Toyota Highlander and Volkswagen Atlas earned “Marginal” scores, while six others picked up. “Bad” mark: Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, Mazda CX-9 and Nissan Murano.

The Wrangler’s rear lap belts popped up during the crash, and the SUV lacked side curtain airbags at the rear, while the CX-9, Grand Cherokee, Palisade, and Pilot had much higher seatbelt tensioners. This contrasted with front-seat scores for most SUVs, which were generally strong, although the Wrangler’s driver-side airbag did not deploy in testing.

The organization is just getting started with this test, so it is not part of its current ratings, but it is likely to appear in the future. It also recently updated its side impact test with higher speeds, narrowing down the number of Top Safety Pick awards for 2023. At the same time, the IIHS has expressed concern about safety issues related to the excessive weight of electric vehicles and has had to be updated. The test equipment test the heavy vehicles to test them effectively.

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