Small Cars Don't Do So Well in Crash Tests

Mini Cooper Countryman gets 'good' rating; Nissan, Mazda, and Fiat models tank

By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 30, 2014 12:07 PM CDT

(Newser) – Not that we'd ever want this to happen, but if you're going to get into a crash in a tiny car, you might want to be in a four-door Mini Cooper Countryman. That's the only small car out of 12 tested that earned a "good" rating in new frontal-crash simulations conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, reports the AP. The worst performers: the Nissan Leaf, Nissan Juke, Fiat 500L, and Mazda5, the last of which, the institute says, exhibited faulty side air bags and a defective driver's side door in tests.

The "small overlap" test—which reproduces the type of crash responsible for almost a quarter of frontal crashes resulting in serious injury or death, according to the institute—was set up so that 25% of the vehicle's front end would slam into a "rigid barrier" going 40mph, according to the Los Angeles Times. How each car fared in these tests depended on whether the vehicle's passenger cabin stayed in one piece or collapsed, as well as how effectively the vehicle's air bags and seatbelts protected the unfortunate crash-test dummies who were put through the wreckage wringer, notes the AP. Chevrolet's likely pleased with the test results: Thanks to its optional "front crash prevention system," the Chevy Volt, which earned the second-highest rating of "acceptable," was the only contender named a "Top Safety Pick Plus."

In this Feb. 7, 2014, file photo, a 2014 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 is on display during the media preview at the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in Chicago.
In this Feb. 7, 2014, file photo, a 2014 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 is on display during the media preview at the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in Chicago.   (AP photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Photos provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show, clockwise from top left: the 2014 Nissan Leaf, the 2014 Nissan Juke, the 2014 Mazda5, and the 2014 Fiat 500L.
Photos provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show, clockwise from top left: the 2014 Nissan Leaf, the 2014 Nissan Juke, the 2014 Mazda5, and the 2014 Fiat 500L.   (AP Photo/Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
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