Three Mexico-made small SUVs earn good ratings from IIHS for occupant protection

In a new round of evaluations, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has granted good ratings for occupant protection to 5 of 7 small SUVs tested in a passenger-side small overlap front crash. 

Those who achieved good ratings were BMW X1; Chevrolet Equinox and its twin, the GMC Terrain; Jeep Compass and Mitsubishi Outlander. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned a marginal rating, and the Ford Escape received poor. For the 2018 model year, the all-new Equinox shed weight to join the small SUV size class. Earlier models were classified as midsize.

The ratings bring to 16 the number of small SUVs the Institute has evaluated in the passenger-side small overlap front test, which was introduced in 2017 to encourage manufacturers to offer the same level of protection for front-seat passengers as drivers in this type of crash.

A good or acceptable passenger-side rating is needed to qualify for the Institute’s 2018 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award, as well as good-rated headlights. To earn TOP SAFETY PICK, vehicles must achieve good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests; earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention; and also, have at least acceptable-rated headlights.

However, no small SUV has earned the “plus” award so far, mainly because they fall short of a good rating for headlights.

Also, none of the newly rated 2018 models earned better than acceptable marks for structure. The Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 are the only small SUVs evaluated so far to earn good ratings for structure in the passenger-side small overlap front test. The Outlander Sport showed marginal ratings, and the Escape earned poor. Both the Outlander Sport and Escape allowed too much intrusion into the occupant compartment on the right side.

It’s worth noting that three of those SUVs which have earned good ratings — the Chevrolet Equinox, the GMC Terrain and the Jeep Compass — are manufactured in Mexico. The Equinox is built at GM plants in Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila and San Luis Potosi, but also in Ingersoll, Ontario. Meanwhile, all GMC Terrains for the North American market are made in San Luis Potosi.

The BMW X1 for North America is built in Regensburg, Germany, while both the Mitsubishi Outlander and Outlander Sport are made in Nagoya, Japan. The Ford Escape is the only SUV in the test that is made in the U.S., specifically in Louisville, Kentucky.

About the test

In the driver-side small overlap front test, a vehicle travels at 40 mph toward a barrier with 25 percent of the vehicle’s front end overlapping the barrier. The test mimics what happens when the front driver-side corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or with an obstacle such as a tree or utility pole.

The passenger-side test is virtually identical to the driver-side one, except the vehicle overlaps the barrier on the right side. Instead of just a driver dummy, a passenger dummy also is seated in front.

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