With vehicle safety a key priority for millions of consumers, it pays to be aware of those vehicles that don’t do so well on various crash tests. The small overlap front test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a stringent new test that appears to be separating some very popular vehicles (and some that aren’t such great sellers) from the safest-vehicle consideration set. Here is a look at 20 vehicles from the 2015 model year that fared poorly in the IIHS small overlap front test – although many did very well in other major tests.

First, though, why is the rating for small overlap front test so important in the consideration of a new vehicle? According to Russ Rader, IIHS senior vice president  of communications, speaking with 27/7 Wall St., said that this type of accident is responsible for approximately 25 percent of all injuries and fatalities in head-on collisions.

2015 Audi A4Although the 2015 Audi A4 luxury car passed the IIHS standard tests for side, roof strength, head restraints and seats, and moderate frontal overlap, testing in the small overlap frontal crash showed high injury risk, especially in the hip/thigh area in the event of a crash. Also, the driver’s door opened during the test. This is dangerous because the driver could be ejected in a head-on collision. 

2015 Chrysler Town & Country – A minivan popular for years with families, the 2015 version of the Chrysler Town & Country scored well in all of the IIHS tests this year except frontal ones with a small overlap. The minivan got a poor rating in this test due to the high likelihood of significant injuries from the hip down in such crashes. Some 45,400 Chrysler Town & Country minivans have been sold year-to-date. 

2015 Dodge Grand CaravanThe fifth-generation 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan has year-to-date sales of 44,442. In IIHS tests, the Grand Caravan received better safety ratings in the moderate front overlap and side collision tests but performed poorly in head-on collisions with a small overlap. Severe lower body injuries are likely in such accidents. 

2015 Dodge JourneyThe midsize 2015 Dodge Journey crossover gets a poor rating in the small overlap front test. During testing, injuries to the right knee, hip and lower leg were shown to be likely. The crash dummy’s left lower leg was hurt by the pedal of the parking brake during testing. Overall evaluation was poor, as was the structure and safety cage. Restraints and dummy kinematics receive marginal ratings.

2015 Fiat 500Part of the appeal of the 2015 Fiat 500 is that it’s so small, lightweight and easy to maneuver. It should be, as it was originally designed for narrow European streets. In the U.S., however, the new 500 – two- and four-door models – failed the small overlap front test. IIHS testing showed injuries to the driver’s lower left leg are likely in the event of a partial head-on crash. 

2015 Ford EscapeThe popular 2015 Ford Escape (with year-to-date sales of 175,669) received a poor (the lowest) rating for head-on collision with a small overlap. Passengers riding in the Escape are “susceptible” to serious injuries to thighs/hips in these types of accidents. 

2015 Honda PilotA large crossover SUV popular with families, the 2015 Honda Pilot was found to be deficient in its ability to protect the driver and passengers in head-on collisions with a small overlap. Serious hip and thigh injuries are likely, according to IIHS test results. So far this year, Honda Pilot sales are just over 78,500. 

2015 Hyundai AccentThe 2015 Hyundai Accent compact car is better performing today than it was for the past several years, receiving top IIHS ratings in all except the side impact and small overlap frontal collisions, where it earned acceptable and poor ratings, respectively. Sales of the Accent year-to-date are 40,252. 

2015 Hyundai TucsonReceiving perfect marks in other tests, the 2015 Hyundai Tucson SUV didn’t do so well in the small overlap front test. During partial overlap testing, the side curtain airbag failed to deploy, “leaving the driver’s head vulnerable to contact with side structure and outside objects.” 

2015 Jeep PatriotA small crossover SUV, the 2015 Jeep Patriot makes no stellar headlines with the dismal rating of poor in the partial overlap frontal test by the IIHS. Drivers are likely to sustain left foot and lower leg injuries in such crashes, said the IIHS. Year-to-date, 69,128 Jeep Patriots have been sold. 

2015 Jeep WranglerThe safety news is not good for the two- and four-door models of the 2015 Jeep Wrangler. The two-door Wrangler received a poor rating for side impact crashes, marginal ratings for head restrains effectiveness and head-on collisions with a small overlap. In a side-impact collision, says the IIHS, injuries to the torso and pelvis are likely. The four-door Wrangler received marginal ratings for side impact collisions and safety of head restraints. The IIHS noted that “rib fractures and/or internal organ injuries would be likely” in the event of a side impact collision. Wrangler sales year-to-date total 121,770. 

2015 Kia SportageThe Korean crossover SUV, first introduced in 2007, is much safer today than its earlier versions. But the 2015 Sportage failed in the small overlap front test, getting the worst possible score. Injuries to the driver’s left knee/left lower leg are possible, according to the IIHS, but the risk of significant injuries to other body regions is low.

2015 Lincoln MKSWhile receiving a top rating in side, roof strength, and moderate overlap frontal crash, the 2015 Lincoln MKS luxury sedan fetched a failing grade in the small overlap front crash. IIHS tests demonstrated that injuries in this type of crash are highly likely. Only 4,373 Lincoln MKS units have been sold year-to-date.  

2015 Mazda CX-9The 2015 Mazda CX-9 large crossover received a bad safety rating in the small overlap front, roof strength, head restraints and seats. The test results mean injury very likely in a small overlap frontal crash. The CX-9 also received marginal rating for roof strength, head and seat restraints which led the IIHS to observe that injury is likely I the event of an accident to that part of the vehicle. The XC-9 was only able to sustain 2.81 times its own weight. For the top rating, vehicles should be able to withstand at least four times vehicle weight. Year-to-date sales of the CX-9 are 10,848. 

2015 Mazda Mazda5 – A compact minivan, the 2015 Mazda Mazda5 – not a very big seller this year, with under 7,000 year-to-date sales – received bad ratings in the small overlap front and side-impact tests. If in a side impact crash, IIHS testing showed injuries to the torso are possible for passengers. 

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage (PRNewsFoto/Mitsubishi Motors North America)

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage – With sales of just over 15,000 so far this year, the 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage compact car received some bad news from the IIHS: a failing grade in the partial overlap front test. Both Consumer Reports and Edmunds have criticized the Mirage for its poor handling as well.

2015 Nissan Leaf – The first full electric-powered vehicle to be sold mass-market in the U.S., the Nissan Leaf, in 2015 guise, received a poor safety rating for head-on collision with a small overlap. The IIHS tests showed that “injuries to the left knee and left lower leg would be likely” and also said “injuries to the left thigh would be possible.” Year-to-date Nissan Leaf sales total just under 11,000.

2015 Nissan Juke – Although the 2015 Nissan Juke subcompact crossover SUV received top marks in most tests, in partial head-on collision with a small overlap, it failed. IIHS tests showed drivers would be likely to receive lower left leg/foot injuries. Moderate frontal overlap tests showed “a low risk of any significant injuries.” So far this year, sales of the Nissan Juke are 15,994. 

2015 Nissan QuestThe fourth-generation 2015 Nissan Quest minivan – with year-to-date sales of 6,295 – has never been a top seller. Now the minivan gets even more bad news: a poor rating in the partial overlap front test. In testing, the upper interior part of the vehicle and the instrument panel intruded by as much as 1-1/2 feet. 

2015 Nissan Versa – First introduced in 2007, the 2015 model of the Nissan Versa subcompact car passed most of the IIHS tests, but it received a poor rating in frontal collisions with a small overlap. The IIHS said that the “driver’s space was seriously compromised by intruding structure” in these types of accidents. A fairly good seller, with 76,904 sales year-to-date, respected auto critics such as Consumer Reports have said the quality of the Versa has declined since the first generation of the vehicle.

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