The IIHS has updated its side impact test and the Outback was the standout performer.
- The IIHS changes the parameters of the side impact test to account for heavy EVs
- Under the new standards, several high-profile cars received a Poor rating
- Subaru Outback only midsize car to get a Good rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) ensures that safety levels remain high across the automotive industry. This means it has to keep an eye on emerging trends, including the move toward electrification.
A recent study found that SUVs are a more significant risk to pedestrians. Now EVs are under the spotlight due to weight. The average weight of a new car is increasing thanks to heavy battery packs, so the IIHS has to adapt its standardized tests.
This means the side impact barrier smashed into cars now weighs 4,180 pounds and strikes the vehicle at 37 mph. As we mentioned when the IIHS tested small crossovers, this is up from the original 3,300 lbs at 31 mph evaluation used to test cars.
On that occasion, the Mazda CX-5 was the lone vehicle to get a Good overall rating. In this test – focused on midsize cars – only one car, the Subaru Outback, emerged with a Good rating.
Out of the seven models tested, the Subaru Outback is the only one to pass the test with flying colors. Two cars received an Acceptable rating while the rest were either Marginal or Poor. The full results of the updated side test are available below.
Sedans tested include the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Chevy Malibu. All of them fared less than stellar. Only the Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Jetta performed better with an Acceptable rating.
The Outback is somewhat of an anomaly. It’s a taller-riding AWD wagon that’s probably more comparable to the crossovers the IIHS tested last October. The test parameters were the same, however. That means the CX-5 finally has a serious rival when it comes to safety.
It’s clear that heavyweight cars represent a threat to the more traditional vehicles out there, but thankfully we’re now only in the beginning phases of the EV revolution. While Tesla is highly successful, it took the largest EV manufacturer in the world more than a decade to hit two million cars produced.
The next generation of small models will have to incorporate more side protection or rethink safety standards. Mercedes-Benz may be on the right track, building its next-gen EVs first and then basing ICE cars on those platforms.
Meanwhile, Subaru can be proud of the Outback, as the IIHS just handed them another unique selling point it can use to market the car.