This just in from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Minicars like the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Smart ForTwo perform poorly in 40 MPH frontal oncoming crash tests. Also, water is wet. [Automotive News]
To borrow one of my favorite cliches, this is why we can't have nice things.
This crap will be all over the news today and will end up hurting small car sales. Because even though light, nimble cars can typically brake and avoid most accidents more easily, it's those rare "unavoidable" collisions that scare people out of buying them. Because active, preventive car safety is hard to quantify, but people understand "four stars" and "five stars" pretty easily.
I think I've used the term "size gradient" before—compared to Europe and Japan, North America has too much variety in mass among our passenger vehicles. So as long as people are still free to drive Suburbans with a regular license, a lot of people will be scared away from Honda Fits and Toyota Yarises, among others. Most of it will be unfounded fear, but public opinion momentum is still substantial.