2008 Toyota iQ
According to the folks at Carscoop, Toyota will be implementing the first-ever rear window airbag on its upcoming Toyota iQ minicar. Perhaps to allay fears of crash protection in the raft of ever-smaller vehicles becoming popular as energy costs soar, the bag adds protection to rear passengers' heads during a rear-end collision.
The bag is stored in the headliner area above the rear window, and in the event of a rear collision, it unfolds rapidly to form a barrier behind rear passengers. Toyota claims that in concert with the headrests, the airbag should minimize impact to passengers' heads.
While Carscoop gets the feeling "lately that automakers are seeing airbags as more of a marketing gimmick than a safety feature," we think it's a good idea to add active safety features as cars get smaller and lighter. There's no substitute for sheer mass when it comes to a collision, and last time we checked, there were still plenty of hulking full-frame SUVs and 18-wheelers cruising U.S. roads. If a minicar car like the iQ makes it to America, it'll need every ounce of safety and impact protection in the event it gets rear-ended by all 9,360 pounds of an angry Ford F-450 Cabela's Edition.--Colin Mathews