In the new federal frontal barrier test, the 2011 Kia Soul was tested and rated at four stars, while it earned an excellent five-star rating overall in the NHTSA side barrier test and five stars in the new side pole test, which is designed to measure the chances of bodily injury in a side collision with a tree or pole.
With top 'good' ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in all of its test categories, the Soul is also a Top Safety Pick for 2011—which, thus far, makes the 2011 Kia Soul one of the highest-rated small cars overall for safety.
The 2011 Mazda3 earned a four-star Overall Rating, but its two-star side rating is concerning. With the exception of the driver's side barrier test, the Mazda Mazda3 had dismal outcomes in the new federal tests, with just two stars with a female-size passenger in the rear seat and three stars in the new side pole test. In the passenger side test, NHTSA indicated that the interior door panel struck the rear passenger dummy so hard that there would have likely been spinal injury.
The sporty-looking Honda CR-Z hybrid two-seater earned three stars overall in federal testing. In the frontal test, the CR-Z earned just three stars (with only two stars for the smaller female passenger), and in the side barrier test it got three stars. Although the new side pole test is not considered in the new ratings system, the CR-Z excelled here, with a top five-star rating.
The Mazda3 has earned top 'good' ratings in frontal and side test categories from the IIHS, but the agency hasn't yet tested it in the new roof strength category; the Honda CR-Z hasn't been tested by the IIHS yet.
Among other small cars, the 2011 Nissan Sentra was also given a NHTSA four-star score overall, with three stars in both frontal crash and side crash categories.
As part of a revised safety ratings program, NHTSA plans to test 55 vehicles for the 2011 model year, and a number of results haven't yet been released.