That's the message to take away from official safety ratings released this past week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The Mazda2 earned top 'good' results for frontal offset and the new roof strength test, but are only 'acceptable' in side impact and seat-based rear impact tests. In the side-impact test, which can be compared across all vehicle types and weight categories, the IIHS indicates a higher risk of pelvic fracture.
There are alternatives for safety-concerned small-car shoppers. The current high achiever in this class is the (structurally related) 2011 Ford Fiesta, which is a Top Safety Pick with 'good' ratings in all categories. The Fiesta has also received four-star ratings overall—and five stars for side impact—in the new tougher testing and ratings system the federal government is applying to 2011 models.
Also among these smallest vehicles, the 2011 Scion xB and Kia Soul are other Top Safety Picks. The 2011 Honda Fit, an editors' favorite for its interior packaging and handling in particular, earns top results in all but roof strength.
Editors here at The Car Connection and Motor Authority have found the 2011 Mazda Mazda2 to be more enjoyable to drive than most other econocars—thanks to its low 2,300-pound curb weight. It's somewhat cramped inside, yet cheerful and basic, and the lineage up to the MX-5 Miata shows in the instrument-panel design.