WASHINGTON – Micro cars can give motorists top-notch fuel efficiency at a competitive price, but the insurance industry says they do not fare well in collisions with larger vehicles.
In crash tests released Tuesday, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers of 2009 versions of the Smart “fortwo,” Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris could face significant leg and head injuries in severe front-end crashes with larger, mid-size vehicles.
“There are good reasons people buy mini cars. They’re more affordable, and they use less gas. But the safety trade-offs are clear from our new tests,” said Adrian Lund, the institute’s president.
Automakers who manufacture the small cars said the tests simulated a high-speed crash that rarely happens on the road. They also said the tests rehashed past insurance industry arguments against tougher fuel efficiency requirements. The institute has raised questions about whether stricter gas mileage rules, which are being developed by the government, might lead to smaller, lighter vehicles that could be less safe.