Small cars are great on gas, but some may not offer the best protection in a crash. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety completed extensive front-end collision tests on 12 small vehicles, and half of them scored poorly.
The small overlap head-on crash that totaled this Honda Civic looks bad, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the car did its job in keeping the driver safe.
"They earn a good rating because the structures held up and did not collapse in on the driver. The steering column was stable so the driver airbag was able to protect the head and chest of the driver," said David Zuby with the insurance institute.
Small overlap head-on crash tests are designed to simulate what happens when a car goes over the centerline. The Civic did the best at protecting drivers.
The Dodge Dart, the Ford Focus, the Hyundai Elantra and the 2014 Scion TC earned acceptable ratings. Other models did not fare as well, like the Kia Forte and the Kia Soul.
"Horrendous collapse of the occupant compartment illustrated by collapse of the hinge pillar, foot well, a pillar instrument panel all coming in toward the driver," Zuby said.
The test dummy hits the steering column after impact.
Scoring slightly better were the Volkswagen Beetle, the Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze. They all got marginal ratings. The Forte and Nissan Sentra were rated poor.
These types of crashes happen daily and can be deadly.
"About eight Texans die from auto crashes a day, and one out of each eight are due to head-on collisions," State Farm's Theo Franklin said.
Franklin says insurance costs are tied to the crash test results.
"The type of vehicle and how it performs in accidents is a key factor," he said.