The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests vehicles every year to determine how well they perform in a crash test. Recently, they tested a large number of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) on the market. Crash testing can make a break the safety reputation of a car, and sometimes the IIHS introduces new testing standards to stay modern. In 2012, they introduced the Small Overlap Front test. This test simulates hitting a stationary object at 40 mph at the point of the driver’s side headlight. Most vehicles perform poor on this test, because they were designed before the test was introduced.

The Mazda CX-9 performed poorly. According to a statement to Jalopnik, the CX-9 design occurred before the IIHS instituted the new test. Many vehicles suffered similar results.

Volvo’s XC90, which also existed in its current form before the new 2012 testing, achieved the best rating possible for the crash test from the IIHS. As you can see from the video above, the driver is well protected (even if the wheel does fall off the car). They deserve the safety reputation that they have.


Front and side airbags protect the driver’s head well in the XC90.

Vehicles like the CX-9 are not any less safe than they were yesterday. One of many possible crash scenarios, the small overlap test doesn’t make a vehicle unsafe. If you own a CX-9, don’t feel compelled to go out and immediately replace the vehicle. Expect all of the vehicles that performed poorly in this crash test to perform well with their next generation.