2014 Toyota Corolla

The 2014 Toyota Corolla has earned a “Marginal” rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) small overlap front crash test, bringing to four the number of models that have fared poorly on the difficult new test. The 2013 RAV4, 2013 Prius v and 2013 Camry earned “Poor” ratings.

According to the IIHS, the test “is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.”

In the 2014 Corolla’s case, the IIHS reports that “Structural performance was poor and the driver's space was seriously compromised by intruding structure. Measures from the dummy indicate that injuries to the left lower leg would be possible in a real-world crash of this severity.”


The small overlap front test is difficult to pass, according to the IIHS, because most modern cars are built with safety cages and crumple zones that are designed to protect occupants in moderate overlap front collisions, which affect almost half of the car’s front. Small overlap crashes, which mainly affect the car’s front corner, can bypass these safety systems, compromising the car’s structural integrity and possibly injuring the occupant. That may be why many cars, including the 2013 RAV4, 2013 Prius v, 2013 Camry and 2014 Corolla, earned “Good” scores in the moderate overlap front test, but “Marginal” or “Poor” ratings in the small overlap front test.

[Related: Toyota RAV4 Fares Poorly in IIHS Small Overlap Crash Test]

According to Automotive News, “The insurance group launched the test in part because 25 percent of highway deaths caused by head-on collisions result from small overlap crashes.”

Toyota has been having a difficult time reengineering its cars to pass the newer small overlap front test, reports The New York Times.

Chevrolet has also had trouble with the small overlap front test. The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze, 2013 Chevrolet Sonic and 2013 Chevrolet Malibu only received a “Marginal” rating on their small overlap front tests.

2014 Toyota Corolla
The IIHS says "Door hinge pillar and instrument panel intrusion was extensive and contributed to a moderate risk of injury to the left lower leg." (IIHS)

Other car companies have had more success. We recently reported that the 2014 Honda Odyssey aced its IIHS crash tests, including the small overlap front test. Several affordable small cars were tested earlier in the year and also did well on the small overlap front test, including the 2014 Scion tC (which is made by Toyota), 2013 Honda Civic, 2014 Ford Focus, 2013 Hyundai Elantra and 2013 Dodge Dart. The IIHS delayed the 2014 Corolla’s test because the 2014 model is completely redesigned and had not yet been released.

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