Cars Pass IIHS' New Passenger-Side Crash Test

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Outback and Legacy are two of six Subaru models to earn 2017 IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ designation. The new passenger-side small overlap test replicates what happens when a vehicle's right corner crashes into an object or another vehicle at 40 miles per hour.

This latest feather in a Top Safety Pick Plus award recipient's cap will indicate that the vehicle earned an acceptable or good score for its ability to withstand a collision in which the passenger-side corner strikes, for example, a tree or utility pole.

Among top performers on the new passenger-side test, the Subaru Outback wagon and platform mate Legacy sedan were notable.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently developed a new crash test program aimed at ensuring that manufacturers are focusing on the safety of front seat passengers as well as drivers. It forced a change in automotive safety design.

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While the NHTSA (National Highway Transport Safety Administration) has its own battery of crash tests that all U.S. cars must satisfy, the IIHS has been running its own extra tests for several decades. This is a common accident that occurs when the front passenger-side corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or with an obstacle such as a tree or utility pole. That's a far cry from the initial results five years ago, when the small overlap frontal test on the driver side was introduced.

"IIHS engineers initially focused on driver-side protection for a simple reason: Every vehicle on the road has a driver, future advances in self-driving cars notwithstanding, but not every vehicle has a passenger", the organization said of the change.

Compared with a group of small SUVs produced from 2014 to 2016 that were tested for research, none of the 2017-2018 midsize models earned a poor or marginal structural rating. Pay particular attention to the 1:10 mark and see how the 2018 Subaru Outback performs.

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