The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that five new vehicles, including the first small cars, earned the group’s top safety awards in the face of a tougher frontal crash.
The Arlington, Va.-based industry-funded group prods automakers to build safer vehicles and awards top-performing vehicles on its crash tests — “Top Safety Picks” — that are consulted by many prospective buyers.
The Honda Civic two-door and four-door, both small cars, and the Volvo XC60, a midsize luxury SUV, all earned good ratings for small overlap protection.
Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln MKZ, a midsize luxury car, and the Mazda6, a midsize moderately priced car, both received an acceptable rating.
Chuck Thomas, Honda’s chief engineer for automotive safety, said the company has reinforced the cabin of the Civic and has added high strength steel.
“The same strategy is being applied to multiple vehicles,” Thomas said in an interview.
The automaker has worked on compatibility issues for years, to make sure smaller vehicles fare well when struck by larger SUVs.
“We’re taking what we are learning and applying it to other vehicles.”
All are 2013 models except the Mazda6, which is redesigned for 2014.
In the IIHS test, 25 percent of the car’s front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph.
IIHS says automakers have made changes to do well on the test.