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Small-overlap Crash Test Takes Its Toll as IIHS Releases Results for Nissan

The 2015 model year is well on its way and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is nearing completion of its crash test results publications for various makes and models. Among them, Nissan has been hit especially hard with the problematic small-overlap front crash test.


A lot of vehicles have a hard time with the new small-overlap front crash test that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety now conducts as part of its frontal testing on passenger vehicles. The test simulates an impact in which only about 25 percent of the front of the car, usually the front-left or front-right corner, hit an object. The IIHS says that a sizable percentage of accidents involve impacts of this type.

Nearly every small and some mid-size vehicles have a tough time acing this small-overlap test. This is largely due to the small space and inability to absorb the impact with added airspace and framing. Larger vehicles, such as pickup trucks, SUVs, and full-sized sedans, have plenty of room to add in crumple zones and extra impact structure. Smaller cars like the Nissan LEAF or similar do not.

The results of the small-overlap tests show that Nissan has a way to go if they want to begin acing this test on all of their models. Vehicles that received a "Poor" rating (second-lowest) for the small-overlap test included the

  • LEAF electric car,
  • Juke crossover,
  • Quest minivan,
  • and the best-selling Versa (and by implication, the Versa Note).

This is not to pick on Nissan, of course. Several other manufacturers also had trouble with the small-overlap test. Dodge, Jeep, Mazda, and others also saw multiple models with low test scores for this crash simulation.