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Some popular midsize cars aren't making the grade in new side crash tests

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said one reason for the poor performance is the lower ride height of midsize passenger cars.

Some popular midsize cars aren't making the grade in new side crash tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested its next batch of vehicles against a taller, heavier, faster barrier.

"Part of our redesign of the barrier was to emulate the pickup trucks and larger SUVs that are out there in the real world that are the striking vehicles in these crashes," says David Harkey, President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

That means 4,200 pounds striking the driver's side of the test vehicle at 37 miles per hour.

Of the seven popular models tested, only the Subaru Outback earned a good rating. 

Three cars, the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Chevrolet Malibu, were ranked poor.

IIHS said two of those cars had substantial intrusion into the passenger compartment, and in all three there was a likelihood of injury.

"Either one or both of the female dummies' heads slipped below the side-curtain airbag and struck the windowsill," says Harkey.

IIHS says one reason for the poor performance is the lower-ride height of those midsize passenger cars. But Harkey is confident automakers will make the necessary adjustments.

"All of these vehicles had good ratings in our original side test. I have no doubt that they will get to a point that they will get them back to having a good rating in our updated side test."

IIHS plans to test smaller passenger cars and smaller pickup trucks next to see how well they protect passengers.

Beginning in 2023, a "good" rating will be needed to meet the institute's criteria for "top safety pick."

Tiffany Craig on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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