The latest round of crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) focused on the small SUV/Crossover category, and when the last of the flying debris finally settled, just two of the 13 vehicles that underwent the ordeal emerged with the organization's primo Top Safety Pick+ rating. Although both the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and the all-new 2014 Subaru Forester qualified for that highly coveted status, only the Subaru was able to earn a "good" rating in all five of the testing categories, including the IIHS's new and extremely challenging small-offset barrier impact test. Specifically, it's designed to measure what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or a fixed object -- in this case a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier -- at 40 mph.

Also: 10 Most Fuel-Efficient SUVs of 2013

"With the redesigned Forester, Subaru's engineers set out to do well in our new test, and they succeeded," says Joe Nolan, the Institute's vice president for vehicle research. "This is exactly how we hoped manufacturers would respond to improve protection for people in these kinds of serious frontal crashes."

To determine a vehicle's overall rating, the non-profit IIHS has developed a good/acceptable/marginal/poor scoring code. Garnering a Top Safety Pick+ rating requires a "good" score in at least four of its evaluation disciplines (moderate overlap frontal crash, small overlap frontal crash, side impact, rollover and efficacy of seat/head restraints in protecting against neck injuries in rear impacts) and no worse than an "acceptable" in the fifth. Compared to the Forester's clean sweep, the Outlander Sport received an "acceptable" rating in the restraints/kinematics category.

Also: 10 Coolest Cars Under $25,000

Although nine of the other small SUV/Crossover models earned either "moderate" (2013 BMW X1, 2013 Honda CR-V, 2014 Mazda CX-5, 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan) or "poor" (2013 Buick Encore, 2013 Ford Escape, 2013 Hyundai Tucson, 2014 Jeep Patriot, 2013 Kia Sportage) ratings in the small-offset impact test, their "good" marks in all other areas still garnered each IIHS Top Safety Pick recognition. The 2013 Jeep Patriot also qualifies as a Top Safety Pick when fitted with the optional side airbags. At Toyota's request, the 2013 RAV4 - which is already a Top Safety Pick - will not be subjected to the new small-offset test until later in the year when the automaker will have completed structural modifications that should help it also earn a Top Safety Pick+ mark. Only two of the vehicles evaluated, the 2013 Jeep Wrangler 2-door and the 2013 Nissan Rogue, did not manage to score well enough to achieve a Top Safety Pick rating.

You Should Also Know...

The all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee Crossover/SUV goes on sale in the fall

The Kia Soul has been fully redesigned for 2014

A freshened 2014 Toyota 4Runner arrives in dealers this summer



New Car Spotlight


Free Dealer Price Quote

Get the best price and be more prepared with your free, no-obligation price quote