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Good news for all of the Mazda SUV fans out there! The 2021 Mazda CX-5 was the only SUV tested to receive the rating of “good” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). What does this new test consist of, and why did no other SUVs make the cut?

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is a safe compact SUV that is also affordable

Mazda CX-5 Ranked Safest In New IIHS small SUV Side Crash Testing
Mazda CX-5 Ranked Safest In New IIHS Side Crash Testing | Mazda

In a new crash analysis by the IIHS, small SUVs had a hard time passing the test. The 2021 Mazda CX-5 was the only SUV tested out of 20 that received a “good” rating. What exactly is the point of this new test that no one can pass? The IIHS is focusing on a new side crash test in response to high-speed crashes that cause fatalities.

“We developed this new test because we suspected there was room for more progress, and these results confirm that. The good rating for the CX-5 shows that robust protection in a more severe side crash is achievable.”

IIHS President | David Harkey

The IIHS anticipated many vehicles not scoring well for this first year because it isn’t something automakers were expecting. All of the cars tested were a 2021 model except for one.

The IIHS says that there was an earlier version of the test that vehicles excelled in. In the first generation side test, all 20 small SUVs tested earned a rating of “good.” However, the first year showed only one in five SUVs scored well. After that, automakers adapted and made the vehicles safer for such impacts. The 2021 Mazda CX-5 scored high in this new test, even in the first year.

What can automakers do to catch up to the 2021 Mazda CX-5?

However, a study from 2011 showed that there were significant improvements. “The driver of a vehicle with a good side rating is 70 percent less likely to die in a left-side crash than a driver of a vehicle with a poor rating.” In 2019, side impacts accounted for 23% of vehicle deaths.

To address these issues, the IIHS adapted. The side-crash test now uses a 4,180-pound barrier to strike the test vehicle at 37 mph. That’s about the weight of an average midsize SUV. In the original trial, the IIHS used a 3,300-pound barrier traveling at 31 mph. The updated rating is based on how well the occupant compartment structure holds up during the crash, which the 2021 Mazda CX-5 did.

The IIHS believes this might be due to damage in the area of the B-pillar. To protect passengers better, automakers might need to strengthen “horizontal door beams to reduce that intrusion and adjust their torso- and pelvis-protecting airbags to provide more coverage and cushioning.”

Which SUVs did not excel in this test?

Nine vehicles scored a rating of “acceptable.” This includes the Audi Q3, Nissan Rogue, Buick Encore, Toyota Venza, Chevrolet Trax, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and Volvo XC40. Eight vehicles scored in the “marginal” category. This includes the Kia Sportage, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Jeep Compass, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Renegade, and Lincoln Corsair. The Honda HR-V and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross landed in the “poor” score rating.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 might be the only small SUV to score well in this test by the IIHS for now, next year will likely show improvements.


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