National

Dec 20, 2012 12:33 PM by NBC News

New car crash tests yield surprising results

A highway safety group has upped the stakes in crash tests for next year's models, and it turns out some of the more affordable family cars did better than the most expensive ones.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calls them "small overlap frontal crashes", where just the front corner of the vehicle hits another vehicle, structure, tree or pole.

25-percent of serious injuries or deaths occur in these type collisions.

"The wheel, the front wheel will actually push back into the wheel well, which will then be pushed back into the occupant's leg space," explains Adrian Lund. "We've seen instrument panels coming back, and heads and chests actually striking this intruding structure."

For 2013 models the institute added a small overlap crash test to other tests it conducts on new cars with surprising results.

The more moderately-priced midsized cars tested better than their luxury counterparts.

"What we find good about this is that it means that the public doesn't have to spend a lot of money to get state of the art crash protection," Lund says.

13 midsize cars like the Honda Accord, Dodge Avenger, Ford Fusion, Volkswagen Passat and Nissan Altima all did well enough to earn the institute's newest rating of Top Safety Pick Plus.

Toyota's Camry and Prius V didn't make the cut, however.

"We're still going to say that the Toyota Camry and Prius are a Top Safety Pick, but they can't get the Top Safety Pick Plus award because of their poor performance in the small overlap crash test," Lund explains.

Toyota pointed out it has more Top Safety Picks than any other automaker, and in a statement added:

"With this new test, the institute has raised the bar again and we will respond to this challenge as we design new vehicles".

For more information, visit the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety online at:

http://www.iihs.org/

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