DETROIT - Only two of 13 small SUVs performed well in front-end crash tests done by an insurance industry group, with several popular models faring poorly.
Subaru's 2014 Forester was the only vehicle to get the top "good" rating in the results released Thursday. The 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was rated "acceptable." But fast-selling models such as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Jeep Wrangler received only "marginal" or "poor" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Many shoppers find the IIHS ratings while researching vehicles. The group says its crash tests and ratings are designed to get automakers to improve the crashworthiness of their vehicles.
The ratings are for the institute's "small overlap" crash test that covers only 25 percent of a vehicle's front end. The group's tests are more stringent than the U.S. government's full-width front crash test.
The institute says that in many vehicles, a crash affecting one-quarter of the front end misses the main structures designed to absorb the impact of a crash. Yet such crashes account for nearly a quarter of the collisions that cause serious or fatal injuries to people in the front seats, IIHS said.
The new Ford Escape, the top-selling small SUV so far this year, got a "poor" overall rating, while Honda's CR-V, the No. 2 seller, got a "marginal" rating. Toyota's RAV-4, another big seller, has not done the testing yet because Toyota asked for a delay to improve the vehicle's structure, the IIHS said.
Other SUVs getting "poor" ratings were the Jeep Patriot, Buick Encore, Kia Sportage, and Hyundai Tuscson, the institute said. The BMW X1, Nissan Rogue, Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan, and Jeep Wrangler two-door all got "marginal" ratings.
The Forester and Outlander Sport each received the IIHS's coveted "Top Safety Pick Plus" award because they performed well in multiple tests, including the small overlap crash.