IIHS: Good Driver Side Small Overlap Crash Test Rating Doesn’t Translate to Passenger Safety

A vehicle with a good small overlap crash test rating may protect drivers in the event of a front-end accident involving the driver side of the vehicle. But a new study found that this may not adequately protect passengers.

Researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted passenger-side small overlap tests on small SUVs that have good driver-side small overlap ratings. Only one out of the seven vehicles tested received a good rating – the Hyundai Tucson. The other six received ratings of acceptable, marginal, or poor.

The small overlap crash test serves as a simulator to evaluate what happens when the front corner of the vehicle crashes into a fixed object or another vehicle.

The small overlap tests focuses on the driver side because all vehicles have a driver, according to the IIHS. Therefore, automakers focus on improving driver side safety because that is the side the tests are conducted. Now, the results from this recent study, along with the IIHS’s consideration of adding passenger-side ratings to Top Safety Pick qualifications, may encourage vehicle manufacturers to focus on passenger side protection too.

Results of the Passenger-Side Small Overlap Tests

So, which vehicles did the IIHS evaluate in its passenger-side small overlap tests?


Vehicle Driver-side test Passenger-side test
2016 Hyundai Tucson Good Good
2015 Buick Encore Good Acceptable
2015 Honda CR-V Good Acceptable
2015 Mazda CX-5 Good Acceptable
2014 Nissan Rogue Good Marginal
2014 Subaru Forester Good Marginal
2015 Toyota RAV4 Good Poor


According to Becky Mueller, the IIHS senior research engineer who led the study, there were over 1,600 right-front passenger deaths in frontal crashes in 2014. With so many innocent people killed in these accidents, the IIHS is determined to make manufacturers aware of the dangers.

Meanwhile, if you or a loved one are injured in an accident, call Bressman Law at 877-538-1116 for help filing a claim and getting compensation. Also check out our free book, Auto Collisions: Knowledge is Power Guide! for an in-depth look at what all accident victims should know before speaking with insurers, hiring a lawyer, or signing anything.