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2014 Subaru Forester Aces IIHS Crash Test; Many Other Small SUVs Don't

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2014 Subaru Forester 2.0 XT

2014 Subaru Forester 2.0 XT

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has run a group of 13 small sport-utility vehicles or crossovers through its relatively new small-overlap frontal crash test, and the results aren't pretty.

Only the 2014 Subaru Forester earned a top 'good' rating. In fact, it's the best-performing vehicle yet in the new IIHS test, earning a top rating in every aspect of the new test, according to the IIHS.

The new test has 25 percent of the vehicle's front end strike a rigid five-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph, measuring the forces in a 50th-percentile crash-test dummy (belted) in the driver's seat.

“With the redesigned Forester, Subaru’s engineers set out to do well in our new test, and they succeeded,” commented Joe Nolan, IIHS vice president for vehicle research, in a release accompanying the announcement. “This is exactly how we hoped manufacturers would respond to improve protection for people in these kinds of serious frontal crashes.”

Outlander Sport: Only other one in this group with an acceptable score

Only one other vehicle, the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander, earned an 'acceptable' score in the new test, while the other 11 models run through the new protocol earned substandard scores of 'marginal' or 'poor.'

With the Institute's new Top Safety Pick+ designation requiring 'good' ratings in four of the five tests (small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side, rollover, and rear), both the 2014 Forester and 2013 Outlander have been given that top nod.

The results correspond to a far lower likelihood of injury to a driver of the Forester or Outlander Sport in the type of accident that it simulates--an offset, head-on crash with another larger vehicle, or with a tree, pole, or barrier.

2014 Subaru Forester Vs. 2012 Nissan Rogue, in IIHS small overlap frontal test

2014 Subaru Forester Vs. 2012 Nissan Rogue, in IIHS small overlap frontal test

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The BMW X1, Nissan Rogue, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Jeep Wrangler (2-door), and Volkswagen Tiguan were among those to earn 'marginal' scores, while the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Buick Encore, Jeep Patriot, and Ford Escape all earned a 'poor' overall score in the small overlap frontal test.

Encore disappointing for a 'new' model

The Buick Encore and Jeep Patriot stood out as having the most 'poor' scores in sub-categories, ranging from vehicle structure, restraints, and kinematics, to crash-dummy-related injury measures. The Patriot, the IIHS notes, otherwise qualifies as a Top Safety Pick; yet it was among the worst for restraints and kinematics, with the dummy's head sliding off the frontal airbag as the steering wheel pushed off to the side—and the side curtain bag didn't even deploy.

The IIHS notes that Toyota requested a delay in its test so that it could make changes to the RAV4 compact crossover and improve its performance in the test.

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