2014 Chevrolet Equinox crash test
The 2014 Chevrolet Equinox withstands the small overlap frontal crash test. (IIHS)

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recently been putting midsize SUVs through their paces and two General Motors vehicles have emerged as clear winners. Of nine SUVs to take the IIHS small overlap front crash test, only the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox and its counterpart, the 2014 GMC Terrain, earned the institute's highest rating of Good. For this particular front crash test, the 2014 Toyota Highlander earned an Acceptable rating, while the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner and Ford Explorer earned Marginal ratings. The Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot received the worst rating of Poor.

The IIHS adopted the more stringent small overlap front crash test in 2012. IIHS Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer David Zuby said in a statement, “SUVs have gotten much safer over the past few generations, but some are better than others at providing comprehensive front crash protection. When it comes to midsize SUVs, General Motors is showing the way forward."

According to the IIHS, both the Equinox and the Terrain had updates to their front structure and door-hinge pillars for 2014 that helped protect front occupants. With both vehicles, “the dummy’s movement was well-controlled,” says the IIHS, with its head striking the front air bag and staying put.


By contrast, the Honda Pilot was subject to "significant structural collapse," according to the IIHS. In the Pilot, the dummy’s head grazed the front air bag and slid to the left side, while the parking brake pedal shifted 16.5 inches inward, encroaching on the driver's space. The IIHS concluded that a real crash would have likely resulted in injury to the driver’s left hip, knee or lower legs.

The Equinox, Terrain and Highlander were all named Top Safety Pick+, the institute’s highest safety award. Vehicles that receive Good ratings in roof strength, head restraint, side and moderate overlap front crash tests, as well as Good or Acceptable in the small overlap front test, are designated as IIHS Top Safety Picks. Vehicles that meet these requirements and receive a Basic, Advanced or Superior rating for front crash prevention receive IIHS Top Safety Pick+ awards.

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