The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is adding a new roof strength crash test to its regimen of front, side, and rear crash testing. The new test is designed to determine how well a vehicle's roof will withstand a crash that includes a rollover.
2009 Volkswagen TiguanEnlarge Photo
The agency is hoping that this new standard will drive increased roof strength and safety for passenger cars and SUVs. Twelve small SUVs have already been subjected to the new test; four emerged with IIHS' top "good" rating by virtue of roofs two to three times stronger than currently mandated by U.S. government safety standards.
The Volkswagen Tiguan did especially well in the new roof safety measure; with 15,000 lbs. of force pressing down, the VW's roof sank only two inches and sustained barely visible damage. In contrast, after the same procedure, the Kia Sportage's roof was demolished, its side glass and windshield shattered.
Roof strength is, predictably, crucial for protecting passengers' heads in rollover crashes. But it's also important for preventing passenger ejection, as a strong roof can keep windows intact and passengers inside.