So-So Grades For Small Cars In Latest Crash Tests

By CBS News

Published 07/30 2014 05:48AM

Updated 07/30 2014 05:51AM

Small cars, especially electric and hybrid cars, are more popular than ever.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety put electric and hybrid cars through a newer, tougher crash test for the first part of a test of small vehicles.

The Mini Cooper Countryman was the only small car to receive a good rating in crash tests by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
"The occupant was well-restrained. Side curtain airbags, frontal airbags, seat belts -- all work great together," says Joseph Nolan, Senior VP of Vehicle Research, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The institute performed its newer "small overlap" test on 12 small cars.
The 40-mile per hour crash simulates what happens when the front corner of the car collides with  another vehicle or tree.

It's the first time the Institute performed this particular test. on electric and hybrid vehicles.

The Ford C-Max hybrid and electric Chevy Volt received acceptable ratings.

The Volt was the only car in the test group to earn the 2014 Top Safety Pick Plus -- the Institute's highest award.
"The Top Safety Pick Plus also rewards vehicles that have forward collision warning systems and systems with autonomous breaking, which is available on the Volt," Nolan explains.

The Volt's electric competitor, the Nissan Lear, rated poor.

The Fiat 500-I, the Nissan Juke,  and Mazda 5 were the worst performers.

The safety agency says their passenger spaces came apart in the crash tests

The IIHS the Mazda 5 was also the only 2014 model car to earn a marginal rating in its side impact test -- one of the institute's 4 other crash tests.

The institute has tested 32 small cars since 2012 and 19 have earned its top rating.

(Danielle Nottingham, CBS News)

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