Crossovers Struggle to Protect Passengers in First U.S. Rear Seat Crash Test

Of the 15 crossovers analyzed in the first rear seat crash test in the U.S., just two earned a ‘good’ rating.

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The IIHS conducted the first rear passenger crash test in the U.S.
Gif: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

We’re used to seeing crash test ratings that rank the safety of a vehicle and give you a clue as to how your car could behave if you’re ever stuck in a car crash. But, did you know that for the past 27 years, crash tests in the U.S. have exclusively looked at front seat safety? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) put this right by conducting its first rear seat safety tests on 15 crossovers, and the results don’t look good.

First reported by Automotive News, the test saw the IIHS strap a crash test dummy into the driver seat and rear passenger seat, before crashing various cars head on into a wall. The test included popular models like the Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Honda HR-V and Hyundai Tucson.

In the first tests of 15 SUVs, only the Ford Escape and Volvo XC40 were found to have protected the rear occupant well enough to earn a ‘good’ rating. Just the Toyota RAV4 was rated as ‘acceptable,’ while three models, including the Audi Q3 were judged as ‘marginal.’

Apparently this is what a 40mph crash does to a new Audi.
Gif: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The remaining nine vehicles, which included the Buick Encore, Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-5 and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, were all rated as ‘poor.’


This sounds worrying at first, especially as every model tested was rated ‘good’ in the original, front passenger-only tests. But, the IIHS is adamant that the new way of testing rear passenger safety will bring about real change for the industry.

In a statement, IIHS President David Harkey said: “The original moderate overlap test was our first evaluation and the lynchpin of the Institute’s crash testing program.


“Thanks to automakers’ improvements, drivers in most vehicles are nearly 50 percent less likely to be killed in a frontal crash today than they were 25 years ago. Our updated test is a challenge to manufacturers to bring those same benefits to the back seat. The stellar performance of the Escape and XC40 shows it’s possible.”

When the IIHS first began carrying out frontal crash tests in 1995, most models of the day were rated as ‘poor’ or ‘marginal.’ But, the agency says that its results have helped push passenger safety so that now, almost every vehicle tested in the traditional manner is awarded a ‘good’ rating.


Fingers crossed that same trend will happen for rear passenger safety following the introduction of this new test.

New crash test spotlights back-seat safety - IIHS News

The test itself puts a dummy representing an average-size man in the driver seat, while a second model “representing a small woman or 12-year-old child” is placed in the rear passenger seat. The car then travels at 40 mph toward a barrier that’s designed to replicate a frontal offset crash.


The full results of the crash test can be found below.

  • Ford Escape - Good
  • Volvo XC40 - Good
  • Toyota RAV4 - Acceptable
  • Audi Q3 - Marginal
  • Nissan Rogue - Marginal
  • Subaru Forester - Marginal
  • Buick Encore - Poor
  • Chevrolet Equinox - Poor
  • Honda CR-V - Poor
  • Honda HR-V - Poor
  • Hyundai Tucson - Poor
  • Jeep Compass - Poor
  • Jeep Renegade - Poor
  • Mazda CX-5 - Poor
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross - Poor