The Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport have won top honors from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, becoming the only small SUVs to ace the group's new "small overlap" crash test.
The Forester, which Subaru redesigned for the 2014 model year, earned Top Safety Pick+ accolades by scoring a "good" rating on the small overlap test, in which the front corner of the vehicle on the driver's side strikes a five-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph.
"With the redesigned Forester, Subaru's engineers set out to do well in our new test, and they succeeded," Joe Nolan, vice president for vehicle research at IIHS, said in a statement. "This is exactly how we hoped manufacturers would respond to improve protection for people in these kinds of serious frontal crashes."
Twenty vehicles have now received Top Safety Pick+ honors for safety in small overlap crashes, the IIHS said today.
The tests -- which replicate a crash in which the corner of a car collides with an object such as a tree or pole -- are not yet included in the federal government's five-star ratings, even though researchers say they are responsible for an outsized share of driving deaths.
5 others rated 'poor'
Also praised today was the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, which won Top Safety Pick+ honors but lagged the Forester with an "acceptable" score on the small overlap test.
Five small SUVs -- the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Buick Encore, Jeep Patriot and Ford Escape -- received "poor" ratings on the small overlap test.
The small crossover and SUV market is one of the auto industry's fastest-growing segments as U.S. consumers seek function, utility and enhanced fuel economy.