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Small Cars With The Best Side Protection - Subaru Crosstrek, Impreza Fail The Test

How do small cars do in a new IIHS side crash test? See which models score highest and why the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek and Subaru Impreza get a failing grade.


Which small cars do the best in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) new, tougher side-impact test? How do the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek subcompact SUV and the 2023 Subaru Impreza compact car score? The IIHS conducted the next round of tests, and the Crosstrek and Impreza scored poorly. Here are the results.

The IIHS says seven of the eleven small cars tested earn good or acceptable ratings, but four models are rated poor. The Mazda 3 sedan and Mazda 3 hatchback earn the highest "Good" ratings, and five small cars, the Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla sedan, Toyota Corolla hatchback, Honda Civic sedan, and Honda Civic hatchback, are rated "Acceptable."

2023 Subaru Crosstrek

The four small cars that scored a "Poor" grade in the new IIHS side crash test are the Kia Forte, Subaru Crosstrek, and the Subaru Impreza sedan and wagon.

How do other Subaru models score in the new side crash test?

Three Subaru models do well in earlier IIHS tests of small SUVs, midsize SUVs, and midsize cars. The 2022 Subaru Forester was one of nine models that earned an "Acceptable" rating. The Subaru Ascent earns the highest "Good" rating from the IIHS. The Subaru Outback was the only midsize car to achieve a "Good" rating in the new IIHS side crash test.

The IIHS says, "A higher ride height seemed to translate into better performance in the new evaluation. A taller vehicle means the moving barrier strikes nearer to the floor of the occupant compartment. The results from the small cars suggest that vehicle length, in particular, the length of the occupant compartment, may also play a role."

2023 Subaru Impreza

Why did Subaru Crosstrek and Impreza get poor grades?

The IIHS says the Subaru Crosstrek subcompact SUV and the Impreza sedan and Impreza wagon, "there was a more substantial intrusion of the B-pillar and interior door panels into the occupant compartment, encroaching on the survival space and contributing to a relatively high risk of torso injuries for the driver and rear passenger. The head of the driver dummy also moved down past the side curtain airbag to hit the windowsill, indicating inadequate head protection."

Which Subaru Crosstrek and Impreza model years were tested?

The IIHS tested the 2022 and 2023 model year Subaru Crosstrek and Impreza compact cars. Not all Subaru Crosstrek and Impreza scores were poor. Both models received "Good" ratings in head and neck injuries for the driver and "Good" ratings in head and neck, pelvis, and head protection for rear passengers.

Does the new test mean the Crosstrek and Impreza are unsafe?

Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, says, "If you already own one of these small cars, the new IIHS side impact ratings don't mean that your car has somehow become unsafe. New and more challenging tests are simply the next progression in advancing crash protection, and this group demonstrates that some vehicles do it better than others. Ratings like this will improve models that aren't quite there yet."

Will this lower the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek and 2023 Subaru Impreza Top Safety Pick scores?

The IIHS says the updated side impact crash test is not included in the IIHS award criteria. However, starting in 2023, a good or acceptable rating will be required for the lower-tier Top Safety Pick award, and a good rating will be needed for the higher-tier Top Safety Pick+ award.

The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek and 2023 Impreza would not earn the highest IIHS overall scores next year. The next-generation 2024 Subaru Crosstrek and Impreza have yet to be tested. Stay tuned.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Photo credit: main image IIHS, Subaru