Mazda CX-5 SUV Tops New IIHS Side Crash Test

Chris Teague | Oct 28, 2021

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an essential entity pushing new-vehicle safety and driver-assistance features. The nonprofit organization, whose funders are American auto insurance companies, crash tests all types of vehicles and details its findings online. Today’s new cars are bigger, heavier, and faster than they’ve ever been, meaning the IIHS must adapt its testing to keep up. To do that, the group recently devised a new side-impact crash test that it says more closely represents today’s roadway accidents. Small SUVs were the first new vehicles put through the wringer, and the results show plenty of room for improvement.

2021 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Edition Front Quarter View

Out of 20 vehicles, the Mazda CX-5 was the only small SUV to earn a Good rating in the new test. IIHS President David Harkey noted that the agency developed the test with progress in mind, saying that “the Good rating for the CX-5 shows that robust protection in a more severe side crash is achievable.”

Nine vehicles earned an Acceptable score in the new evaluations:

Eight more earned Marginal scores:

The Honda HR-V and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross both tallied Poor ratings. All vehicles were 2021 models except for the Eclipse Cross, which was from 2020. Those results seem dismal, but it’s worth noting that all 20 vehicles earned Good scores in the prior testing format.

A 2011 IIHS study showed that people traveling in vehicles that earned a Good score were 70 percent less likely to die in a left-side impact crash than those in a car with a Poor score. Side-impact crashes still accounted for 23 percent of vehicle occupant deaths in 2019, so the IIHS developed the new testing format to emulate the driving conditions people are most likely to face today. The barrier that strikes the test vehicle now weighs 4,180 pounds, around the weight of a modern midsize SUV. Speeds have also increased, with the barrier now hitting the car at 37 mph instead of 31 mph previously. The Institute revised the barrier’s shape to a design that behaves like a real SUV or pickup truck when striking another vehicle.

Mazda and the IIHS are the sources of information for this article. It was accurate on October 27, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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