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Subcompact cars fare poorly in new insurance industry crash tests

DETROIT--Subcompact cars fared poorly in new crash tests performed by an insurance industry group.

None of the 12 minicars tested got the highest rating of “good” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Chevrolet Spark was the only car that earned the second-highest rating of “acceptable.” Six of the cars — including the segment's best-seller, the Nissan Versa — got the lowest rating of “poor.”

All of the cars were from the 2013 or 2014 model years.

“Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage. That's why it's even more important to choose one with the best occupant protection,” said Joe Nolan, IIHS's senior vice president for vehicle research.

The institute's small overlap test, which was introduced in 2012, mimics what happens when a car's front corner collides with another vehicle or an object like a utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver's side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph (64 kph).

The test differs from the U.S. government's frontal crash test, in which a car strikes a rigid barrier head-on at 35 mph (56 kph).

IIHS says hitting only part of the front end makes it harder for cars to manage the energy from a crash. In several of the subcompacts, the structures collapsed, which can exacerbate injuries because the air bags, seats and other parts get knocked out of position.

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This undated photo provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows the Honda Fit during a crash test.

(AP)

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