The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has just released its latest round of results for small overlap front crash tests and more than half the midsize SUVs tested rate "marginal" or worse, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.
The tests, which are now a priority in the insurance industry, focus on off-center crashes, which are among the most dangerous for drivers. The spot in front of the driver is among the most vulnerable.
"The crush zone here has got to do a better job of absorbing energy," IIHS chief research officer David Zuby said. "A quarter of the serious injuries and deaths that occur in modern cars in frontal crashes are in crashes that look like this crash test."
One of those off-center crashes happened to Hollyn Mangione in 2011, when an SUV crossed the center line and slammed into her front left side with such force that she suffered extensive injuries to her legs, back and eyes. A lifelong equestrian, Mangione doubts she will return to high level competitions.
"The driver seat was twisted sideways, the dashboard came in, it pinned my knees back against the back of the seat," she said.
The IIHS gave its top safety rating to the 2015 Nissan Murano, but four of the seven cars tested rated "marginal": the Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Cherokee, Dodge Durango, or "poor": the Dodge Journey. In those cars, the test dummy typically glanced off the air bag, unprotected.
The Dodge Journey rated poor because of multiple failures.
"Massive collapse of the occupant compartment around the dummy, high forces on the left leg, the parking brake pedal ripped through the simulated flesh on the dummy's leg," Zuby said. "We think that people who experience a similar crash will suffer serious or possibly fatal injury."
Chrysler responded with a statement saying the Dodge Journey has the "highest possible (safety) ratings" in every other crash test, including side crashes, roof strength, and moderate front side crashes, the more common test for front end collisions.