Subaru Outback tops new IIHS crash test that crushes other midsize vehicles

The Subaru Outback received the top possible score of Good in the updated side impact test, which simulates a 4,200 pound vehicle traveling at 37 mph T-boning the vehicle.

Those numbers are up from 3,300 pounds and 31 mph in the previous version of the test and results in 82 percent more energy being applied to the vehicle being struck.

The Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Jetta both received Acceptable scores and the Honda Accord Marginal, while the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Chevrolet Malibu were all rated Poor. Every one of the vehicles scored Good on the previous test.

The Subaru Outback recieveda Good score on the new side impact test.

The Subaru Outback recieveda Good score on the new side impact test. (IIHS)

IIHS President David Harkey suggested that the high-riding nature of the Outback, which some would classify more as an SUV than a midsize wagon, helped its performance. In fact, during a round of side impact testing last year that involved 18 midsize SUVs, 10 received Good scores and none were rated Poor.

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The Chevrolet Malibu suffered significant cabin intrusion.

The Chevrolet Malibu suffered significant cabin intrusion. (IIHS)

“With vehicles that sit lower to the ground, the striking barrier hits higher on the door panel, he said.

The Malibu, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry all performed poorly in the test.

The Malibu, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry all performed poorly in the test. (IIHS)

The Altima and Malibu were specifically called out for allowing significant cabin intrusion, while the Camry fared better in this regard.

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The Malibu was one of the vehicles that allowed the test dummy's head to hit the windowsill under the side curtain airbag.

The Malibu was one of the vehicles that allowed the test dummy’s head to hit the windowsill under the side curtain airbag. (IIHS)

However, the side curtain airbags in all three vehicles allowed the head of either the driver or rear passenger dummy, or both, to slip beneath the airbag and strike the windowsill.

The tests are just preliminary at this point and meant to give automakers a benchmark, but starting next year a Marginal score will be required to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick award and a Good score to get the highest Top Safety Pick+ designation.

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