Honda Motor Co.’s Civic, the U.S. auto industry’s best-selling compact car, received the top safety rating on Thursday from an insurance industry group in a new crash test.
Both the two- and four-door versions of the Civic received a “good” crash-test rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a non-profit group funded by the insurance industry.
Volvo’s XC60 mid-sized SUV also received a “good” rating in the IIHS test.
Testing was based on a vehicle’s performance in the new, tougher small overlap frontal crash test, which is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or object like a tree or utility pole.
Only five cars underwent the new IIHS crash test, including the two versions of the Civic.
Honda introduced a redesigned Civic last year, only 18 months after a major model change to the car in the United States to address complaints about the 2012 model. The Japanese automaker upgraded the car inside and out, with a sleeker look, better quality interiors and improved steering feel.
Consumer Reports, the influential consumer magazine, in the summer of 2011 ranked the Civic dead last in a field of 12 compact sedans it test drove and dropped it from its “recommended” list. The magazine’s testing did not involve crash tests. It was the first time the Civic had failed to make the list since the buyer’s guide was launched in 1993.
Honda officials previously acknowledged they miscalculated the market after the U.S. economy turned south after the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008, removing features from the Civic because they thought recession-weary customers would want less expensive cars.
Sales of the Civic, the most popular compact in the U.S. market, are down 9 percent through February after jumping about 44 per cent to 317,909 cars last year.
In the IIHS new crash tests, Ford Motor Co’s Lincoln MKZ luxury sedan and Mazda Motor Corp’s 6 sedan both received “acceptable” ratings.
All of the vehicles tested – 2013 models, except for the 2014-model Mazda 6 – were named a “Top Safety Pick +” by IIHS. The tests were done outside the institute’s normal schedule at the request of the automakers.
Vehicles earning the institute’s “Top Safety Pick +” award have received “good” ratings in the four traditional tests plus “good” or “acceptable” ratings in the small overlap test.