The infamous small overlap test has struck again! This time its victims came from Fiat Chrysler and Hyundai, exposing structural and air bag weaknesses that could spell death for drivers and front passengers.
First some good news. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said that the 2015 Nissan Murano passed the small overlap test with flying colors, helping it earn the title of Top Safety Pick+. IIHS even went so far as to use it as a perfect example of how a vehicle should fare in such a situation. The Ford Flex earned a fair rating on the test, which was enough for it to be named a Top Safety Pick. The Jeep Wrangler did surprisingly well in the small overlap, but bombed out in side and rear tests.
The really bad news is that the Dodge Journey did the worst out of the batch of midsize crossovers IIHS tested, earning it a poor rating. In addition, earning only marginal ratings were the Dodge Durango, Jeep Cherokee and Hyundai Santa Fe.
Watching the Dodge Journey go through the test is painful and hopefully should result in car shoppers crossing it off their short list. The front structure collapsed, pushing the airbag away from the driver’s face. On top of that, the side curtain airbag didn’t even deploy, which in a real-world situation would leave the driver’s head exposed to all kinds of dangers. Getting the person out of the vehicle could have been an issue as well, because the instrument panel was pushed back as much as nine inches in some spots. The parking brake actually impaled the driver’s leg, which could have allowed a real person to bleed out quickly, maybe even before first responders arrived on the scene.
The small overlap test has been controversial, with certain automakers claiming it isn’t a fair assessment. IIHS says it accurately measures what would happen if a vehicle were to strike another car, pole or tree with the front corner only. Those kinds of accidents make up 25 percent of all fatalities for front-end collisions with newer vehicles.