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5/16/2014 - IIHS: Minicars test poorly in crash analysis

Of the 11 so-called "minicars" that were tested, only one received an acceptable rating in the small overlap front crash test.

A slew of one of the automotive world's more popular car types - mainly because of their small size and fuel efficiency - recently failed to achieve high marks in certain crash testing procedures.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, of the 11 so-called "minicars" that were tested, only one received an acceptable rating in the small overlap front crash test. It was also the sole vehicle that's overall rating was satisfactory.

Joe Nolan, senior vice president for vehicle research at IIHS, indicated that these small vehicles tend to be the worst performing from a standpoint of safety.

"Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage," said Nolan. "That's why it's even more important to choose one with the best occupant protection. Unfortunately, as a group, minicars aren't performing as well as other vehicle categories in the small overlap crash."

The one vehicle that did earn solid safety scores was the Spark, which is manufactured by Chevrolet. In addition to holding up well for small overlap frontal protection, it achieved good ratings in other crash test evaluations, such as side and rear impact, IIHS noted. So much so, that it was given the IIHS' Top Safety Pick award.

Meanwhile, all of the other minicars tested, received at least one poor rating, including the Mazda 2, Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Versa sedan, Toyota Prius c and Hyundai Accent. The Fiat 500 and Honda Fit also finished poorly in multiple areas, including structure, as well as restraints and kinematics. However, the Fit had a marginal testing result in this latter category.

For the past several years, these small size vehicles have been consistently among the top finishers in automotive sales, evidenced by the number of auto insurance policies that are taken out on them. Owners should be sure to consult with their insurer if they have one, or thinking about insuring one, so that they can get an assessment of what their premiums will look like.

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