ARLINGTON, Va. — The redesigned 2015 Honda Fit earns an acceptable rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's challenging small overlap front test, a significant improvement over the 2009-13 model, which was rated poor. With good ratings in the Institute's four other crash tests, the minicar qualifies for the IIHS Top Safety Pick award.
The Institute conducted two small overlap tests of the new Fit. In the first test, the bumper beam, a steel bar located behind the plastic bumper cover, broke free of the frame rail on the passenger side early in the crash. This caused much more of the crash energy to be absorbed by the driver side of the car, resulting in extensive intrusion into the occupant compartment and excessive upward movement of the steering column.
In response to that initial test, Honda engineers improved the strength of the bumper beam welds, and the company asked the Institute to test the car again. In the second test with the improved welds, the bumper beam stayed attached to the frame rail. Intrusion into the occupant compartment was reduced, and the steering column was much more stable, resulting in an acceptable rating. The rating applies to vehicles built after June 2014.
Honda will initiate a "product update" to replace the bumper beams on approximately 12,000 2015 Fits that were sold earlier this year, prior to the change to the bumper welds. Owners will be notified by mail, and dealers will do the work free of charge. This modification will significantly improve protection in small overlap crashes. Only cars with the replacement bumper beam earn the acceptable rating in the small overlap test and qualify for the Top Safety Pick designation.
"We commend Honda for its quick response to the test and for taking the additional step of replacing the bumper beams on early-production vehicles," says IIHS President Adrian Lund. "People who bought cars produced earlier in the year should take advantage of this free replacement to improve protection in small overlap crashes."
The Institute introduced the small overlap evaluation in 2012. In the test, which is more challenging than either the head-on crashes conducted by the government or the IIHS moderate overlap test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph. The crash replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or a utility pole.
To qualify for Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn a good or acceptable rating for small overlap protection and good ratings in the Institute's moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests.
The Fit is the ninth Honda/Acura model to earn a 2014 Top Safety Pick award.