GM SUVs Ranked Safest in Segment; Honda Comes in Last

Apr 08, 2014 01:33 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

In the middle of dealing with a 2.6-million vehicle recall and a federal investigation, General Motors can at least enjoy some good news about the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox and its twin, the GMC Terrain.

Those two models were the only cars to earn the highest ranking of Good on an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety test of nine midsize utility vehicles from 2014, The New York Times reported.

"SUVs have gotten much safer over the past few generations, but some are better than others at providing comprehensive front crash protection," said David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president, in a statement quoted by the Los Angeles Times. "When it comes to midsize SUVs, General Motors is showing the way forward."

The nine vehicles went through the new small-overlap crash test added by the agency in 2012, a challenging test that allows the crash energy to hit the passenger compartment. The evaluation scenario involves the vehicle's front side corner hitting another vehicle or an object at a rate of 40 mph.

The two GM models were the only vehicles to receive Good ratings, while the 2014 Toyota Highlander was alone in earning an Acceptable. The other six cars didn't fare so well. The 2013-14 Ford Explorer, 2013-14 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2014 Toyota 4Runner earned Marginal rankings, while the 2009-14 Honda Pilot, 2014 Kia Sorento and 2007-14 Mazda CX-9 were rated Poor on the crash test.

The Equinox and Terrain received a Good rating for their structure; the former was actually tested, but the ranking applied to the Terrain as well since the two cars essentially use the same design.

Unfortunately for the Japanese automaker, the Honda Pilot came in dead last in the rankings, receiving a Poor for structure and another Poor for overall structure from the IIHS. The Toyota 4Runner, Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer and Kia Sorento earned a rating of Poor as well in the structure category.

Honda responded to the Poor ranking with a statement: "Utilizing the same body structure as the 2014 Pilot, the 2013 Honda Pilot was rated an I.I.H.S. Top Safety Pick and, according to I.I.H.S., 2013 Top Safety Pick designees like the Pilot 'continue to offer a high level of protection in four main crash types--moderate overlap front, side, rollover and rear.'"

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