2014 Chevy Volt Becomes Safest Small Car In U.S. After Solid Performance In IIHS Small Overlap Test – Video & Images


Chevy Volt Is Currently #1 In IIHS Tests For Small Cars

Chevy Volt Is Currently #1 In IIHS Tests For Small Cars

Volt's Showing Is IMpressive

Volt’s Showing Is Impressive

As the crash test institute IIHS states:

“Back in 2011, the Volt and Leaf were the first mainstream plug-in electric models to undergo IIHS crash test evaluations. The 2011 models earned top ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, head restraint and roof-strength evaluations.  That’s still the case with the 2014 versions of both cars.”

But only one of the two performed well in the new small overlap test conducted by the IIHS:

“Electric vehicles have a unique challenge in the small overlap test because of their heavy batteries. The Volt performed reasonably well, earning an acceptable rating, while the Leaf struggled.”

Here’s what the IIHS says of the condition of both the Volt and the LEAF after the tests:

“Driver space in the Volt was maintained reasonably well in the test, and injury measures taken from the dummy indicate a low risk of any significant injuries to a person in a similar crash. In the Leaf, the dummy had a different experience. The Leaf chalked up as much as 16 inches of intrusion in the lower occupant compartment and 14 inches in the upper occupant compartment. The instrument panel, parking brake pedal and steering column were all pushed back toward the driver. Injuries to the left knee and left lower leg would be likely in a crash of this severity, and injuries to the left thigh would be possible.”

Volt Fared Significantly Better Than LEAF

Volt Fared Significantly Better Than LEAF

Most notably, the 2014 Chevrolet Volt is the only tested “small car” to receive the coveted Top Safety Pick + score from the IIHS:

“The Volt, which has a basic-rated optional forward collision warning system, is the only car in this test group to earn a 2014 Top Safety Pick+ award. The C-Max Hybrid, Countryman, Mitsubishi Lancer, and the Scion FR-S and its twin the Subaru BRZ qualify for Top Safety Pick, the Institute’s second-highest award. These models miss the “plus” award because they don’t have an available front crash prevention system.”

Criteria for Top Safety Pick + and Top Safety Pick is as follows:

To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn a good or acceptable rating for small overlap protection, a good rating in the Institute’s other four tests, and a basic, advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention. To qualify for Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn a good or acceptable rating for small overlap protection and a good rating in the other four tests.

So, if you’re looking for a “small car” and it having the Top Safety Pick + rating is important to you, then there’s only one choice: 2014 Chevy Volt.

Video of Volt in IIHS small overlap test:

Volt Gets Crashed For Safety

Volt Gets Crashed For Safety

Volt Gets Crashed For Safety

The dummy’s position in relation to the door frame, steering wheel, and instrument panel after the crash test indicates that the driver’s survival space was maintained reasonably well.

The driver's space was maintained reasonably well, and risk of injuries to the dummy's legs and feet was low.

The driver’s space was maintained reasonably well, and risk of injuries to the dummy’s legs and feet was low.

During the crash, the dummy's head and torso barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off to the left. The side curtain airbag extended far enough forward toward the A-pillar to protect the head from contact with forward side structure.

During the crash, the dummy’s head and torso barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off to the left. The side curtain airbag extended far enough forward toward the A-pillar to protect the head from contact with forward side structure.

Video below shows “small cars” in IIHS small overlap test:

General Motors press release below:

Chevrolet Volt Earns IIHS Top Safety Pick + Award

Only small car of 12 in recent testing to earn distinction


DETROIT – The 2014 Chevrolet Volt with available Forward Collision Alert was the only vehicle out of 12 small cars tested to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 2014 Top Safety Pick + award. It also received an acceptable overall score in IIHS’ challenging small overlap front crash test.

The results in the most recent round of testing put it ahead of its competitors, both in the electric and small car segments.

“The Volt’s crashworthiness performance puts it in the top tier for small car safety,” said Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president for vehicle research. “GM should be commended for the Volt’s performance in the small overlap front test because this car was designed before that challenging test was introduced.”

The Volt earned a “good” rating – the highest the IIHS awards in its tests – in four of the six categories monitored during the small overlap front test. In the Structure category and the Restraints & Kinematics category, the Volt earned an “acceptable” rating. Altogether, the scores gave the Volt an overall acceptable rating in the test.

“These outstanding results demonstrate our commitment to the highest levels of safety performance in our vehicles,” said Jeff Boyer, vice president of GM Global Vehicle Safety. ”Achieving the IIHS Top Safety Pick + is a key endorsement which is valued by our customers.”

According to IIHS, the small overlap front crash test is considered the most difficult of any of the head-on tests performed by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the IIHS. It was introduced in 2012, and replicates a collision with another object, such as a tree, on the very front corner of the vehicle at 40 mph.

This means the vehicle’s front bumpers and crumple zones are avoided, making the rest of the car distribute crash energy.

Categories: Chevrolet, Crashed EVs

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66 Comments on "2014 Chevy Volt Becomes Safest Small Car In U.S. After Solid Performance In IIHS Small Overlap Test – Video & Images"

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I was dreading this day. I’m suprised with the Volt though, I’m not with the LEAF. It’s very likely more than enough people would use this as an excuse for calling out on the safety offered by plug-ins while ignoring the Volt altogether.

Anyone know how fast these vehicles are travelling when they impact? They don’t appear to be going more than 25 or 30 mph. But the damage looks severe. Then again, I’m guessing it may have something to do with the fact they are essentially hitting a concrete wall.

It’s a partial offset crash test, ie corner of the front.
The harshest frontal type test for most cars to score in.
The Volt did real well, built properly.

Most crashes are head on. These tests are into a fixed barrier. The test should have a object crashing into the car.. not the car crashing into a fixed barrier. Then you will have a more true test. Crash a 3800lb Volt into a 2500lb Honda or Toyota..etc .. cars that are the same size but much lighter… the results will be much different. The Volt is much safer. Tests into a fixed barrier are not relatable to cars of different weight.

The headline for the Volt is inaccurate. The Volt received the same rating as many other small vehicles previously tested by IIHS.

The Mini also received a GOOD Overall rating and the Volt only received an ACCEPTABLE rating.

Recommend amending the headline to reflect the IIHS results for all small cars tested, not a small subset.

I take it you drive a LEAF?

When I heard this news story on the radio this morning, they also said the Mini was better than the Volt. Seeing the TSP+ on the Volt and not the Mini confuses me.

Eric: Can we get some more clarification? My source was CBS Radio news this morning.

The Mini scored better in one test – small overlap. However, the Volt gets TSP + due to crash prevention system, as well as performing well in all other tests. If the Mini had crash prevention, then it too would get TSP+.

“To qualify for 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests; a good or acceptable rating in the small overlap front test; and a basic, advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.”

Thank you!

CherylG is right. This is only the most recent subset of small cars tested by the IIHS, it just happens to include a lot of PEVs. Other small cars that get TSP+ include: Mazda3, Civic Hybrid, Golf and Prius including PIP, although the Mazda3 and Prius only qualify if they are late build models.

The IIHS only started performing the small-overlap test in 2012. Cars engineered before then typically don’t do very well.

BTW I drive a Volt.

Considering that the Forward Collision Alert system that earned the + in the Volt TSP rating is optional I don’t think it should count. As such the Mini Cooper is safer.

If GM is really serious about safety then all safety features should be standard.

That is no different from any other auto makers. Most of those “avoidance” features are optional.

When will the Model S be tested for small overlap performance? Inquiring minds want to know how it does.

Not sure about it, but the Tesla S did quite well in other tests, so you would think the relatively large crumple area available to slow the car would perform at least ‘good’

* and Model X

Yes I’d love to know the roof crush strength of the model S and small overlap results. I’m sure it’s on their to do list

As near as I can figure from IIHS’s website, they have not tested the Model S at all. I think their current safety rating comes from the NHTSA.

IIHS is probably worried that the Model S may break their testing equipment.

The C-max has the highest roof crush test peak force i have ever seen, 24,### pounds!

I wonder if the Model S and X can best that

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

For the Tesla, they may need to widen their spreadsheet cells… “‘######## ? Is the sensor broken?'”

Sounds like the CMAX out scored the Model S in roof strength to weight ratio.

The CMax did a lot better than the Volt for sure which barely made it into the Good category on the roof score.

C-Max also did worse than Volt in structure portion of the small overlap frontal testing and frontal offset testing section with the leg/foot section.

You can always cherry pick one or another to show case one is slightly better than the other…

The IIHS has previously said they wouldn’t test the Model S due to limited resources. Maybe they’ll change their mind. I imagine it would do very well in the small overlap test, although it couldn’t win TSP+ because it doesn’t offer forward collision warning even as an option. Kind of an inexcusable omission for “the safest car in the world” if you ask me.

I’m glad the IIHS finally has done a small overlap test on the Volt and it’s passed. Does better than the Cruze with Acceptable small overlap versus marginal.

Confused, I thought the iihs previously had rated the roof crush strength of the Volt at 18,### pounds not 15,816.

Volt is not a small car.

It is small on the inside.

What a waste of a perfectly good looking Red Volt 🙁 haha

exactly what i was going to say… poor red volt, it didnt have polished rims though so it wasn’t 100% bad

I hear the ones with polished rims do even better in crash tests though, just like how the black electric vehicles are the ones that are the fastest. 😉

/story checks out

I don’t know Clarkson, I have it from a good source that the Red Volts are the fastest, but that the Black Volts are the “hottest”.

I’d like to see IIHS test a Model S. I couldn’t find any ratings on their website.

That’ll buff right out…

My dad’s got a really bitchin’ set of tools.

Well done, GM. Very well done.

Once again, Tesla has been at the forefront of this area by having a big huge front end which provides a lot of ‘crush space’ which can conveniently be used as a frunk.

Missing from the results listed are Chevy Spark EV and Fiat 500e. Where these model previously tested, or just not yet?

If their ICE counterpart is the indication, then Spark ICE got an Acceptable rating (A,M,A) Fiat 500 got an poor rating (P,P,P) [overall, structure, R&K].

Among all the plugin cars tested or correlated to their ICE models, Honda PHEV is the best (according to its ICE cousin) where it got a Good rating overall (G,A,G). Volt and Fusion are the second best at Acceptable overall (A, A, A)

Here is the compiled list.

Car model/Overall/Structure/R&K
*indicates ICE version rating, NOT actual model.

G: good
A: Acceptable
M: Marginal
P: Poor

Honda Accord* (G,A,G)
Volt (A,A,A)
Fusion* (A,A,A)
Spark* (A,M,A)
Focus* (A,M,A)
Rav4* (P,P,M)
Fit* (P,P,M)
Fiat 500* (P,P,P)

Looks like American plugin cars on average are doing way better than the imports…

Why isn’t the Mini Cooper Countryman rated safer than the Volt?

The Mini doesn’t have forward collision alert, which helps to prevent the accident from occurring in the first place.

It is in small overlap crash test.

But the overall rating of TSP+ vs. TSP is based on accidents avoidance features.

So, in a way the Mini is safer.

Yes, that is correct. The Mini would theoretically be safer in an actual accident.

So would a Golf, a GTI, a Mazda 3, and a Civic. All of these are rated higher than the Volt by the IIHS.

Not exactly.

The test results do NOT compare across vehicle size and weight classes…

All of those vehicles are in the IIHS Small vehicle category. Check out their site.

I did and this is their disclaimer:

“Frontal crash test ratings should be compared only among vehicles of similar weight.”

Volt is more than 3,600lbs and just about all your list are below 3,000 lbs in weight except for the Golf and GTI which are in the 3,100 to 3,200 lbs range. Volt is about 800lbs heavier than Civic and Mazda 3 and 400lbs heavier than the VWs. That is almost the weight of midsize class…

Again, please study the facts before you post.

Among all the cars with a plug and actually TESTED according to IIHS. the Volt is the SAFEST one today.

No, see below for a list of small vehicles that were tested by the IIHS and scored higher than the Volt.

You replied:

“No, see below for a list of small vehicles that were tested by the IIHS and scored higher than the Volt.”

I said: “Among all the cars with a plug and actually TESTED according to IIHS”

No, you need to learn to read.

“2014 Chevy Volt Becomes Safest Small Car In U.S. After Solid Performance In IIHS Small Overlap Test – Video & Images”

This is the title of this thread.

It is not accurate.

The facts support my assertion.

The safest small car is rated by TSP rating which is TSP+ and TSP.

The safest rating is TSP+ which is correct here.

In order to get TSP+, it has to get at least “Good” in all category AND at least “Acceptable” or “Good” in the smaller frontal offset crash test AND has certain levels of crash avoidance features.

Volt meets that TSP+ (highest SAFETY Rating) according to IIHS.

The Volt is not “currently #1 in IIHS tests for small cars” like this article states.

Check out the Civic or Mazda 3 results.

Pay close attention to the roof crush scores which the Volt barely got into the green area. Well below many competitors.

The safest small car would not have roof scores like that.

It is safer b/c it would be far less to roll over due to the lower center of gravity which is exactly what the roof strength test is designed for.

Again, you replied to my comment which has NOTHING to do with your asseration.

I stated that Volt is the safest car with a plug that is tested by the IIHS.

The title of this article is still incorrect.

Small cars with higher ratings than the Volt include the Mazda 3 hatchback, the Mazda 3 four door, the Honda Civic, the VW Golf, the VW GTI.

All of these vehicles scored GOOD in every single category and all received a GOOD rating in the Overall score. The Volt did not.

The Volt was only rated “ACCEPTABLE” overall and did not sweep the individual tests.

Therefore, the title of this article is clearly inaccurate.

Again, you need to learn to read.

The title states Volt has the safety rating of TSP+ which is the highest and applies to overall rating.

In order to achieve that rating, there are sub test rating for each category of testing.

Small overlap frontal test is one of them. Among the cars you listed, they did better in that category than the Volt.

But all those cars received equal good ratings in other tests such as frontal offset and side crash tests.

Volt was NOT rated “ACCEPTABLE” [overall] as you stated. Volt was rated “Acceptable” in the smaller overlap frontal test. [Overall]rating by IIHS is the rating of “top safety pick” level, for Volt it is TSP+ which is the highest available rating by IIHS.

Learn to read the crash test on IIHS’s website.

Volt was NOT rated “ACCEPTABLE” [overall] as you stated. Volt was rated “Acceptable” in the smaller overlap frontal test. [Overall]rating by IIHS is the rating of “top safety pick” level, for Volt it is TSP+ which is the highest available rating by IIHS.

Please scroll up to the very top of this article.

You will clearly see a big ‘A’ under “Overall” for the Volt on the small overlap.

A = Acceptable.
G = Good.

Other small vehicles have TSP+ and an Overall rating of “Good” in the SO test.

Again, the Volt is not the highest rated small car.

Also, check out the roof test scores. Once again, the Volt is scored well behind many other small cars.

Are you really that dense?

Go to IIHS and learn to read the crash results.


Learn to read the test results before you argue.

Also, as I stated, the Volt test weight was MORE than 3,700 lbs which makes it the HEAVIEST vehicle in that test class. about 1,000 lbs heavier than the Honda Civic tested in the same test.

The roof strenght is a ratio with respect to the weight.

That is why IIHS has the disclaimer on weight.

Ahhhh, sorry to point out your dense-ness, but my SO abbreviation is for Small Overlap.

I didn’t realize I needed to literally spell out everything for the fanbois.

You also clearly don’t understand the roof test and their results.

The Volt barely squeaked into the good rating. Take a look at the Mazda and the CMax and the Civic to see what a good design margin is.

I get a good laugh at the length the fanbois go to support a false assertion i.e. #1Safest Small Car !


The Roof test results are results. You are trying to compare Good to Best on “one of the category” here.

Why do we test Roof strenghth? B/c of roll over risk. According to NHTSA, the roll over risk for the model you listed are rated only 4 stars where Volt is rated 5 stars… Volt roll over risk is at 9.3% where the Mazda, C-Max and Civic ar 10.5%, 14.7% and 10.5%. Since they are more likely to roll over, they better have a stronger roof.

Also let us look at the practicability of the numbers. That is a weight to strenght ratio. The Volt is much heavier than those following cars, so the actual strenghth is much closer.

I get a laugh at someone who constantly bash plugin cars whatever chance he/she gets tries to make something out of nothing.

Yes, the title of this thread should have been “Volt passes IIHS test, LEAF fails”. No doubt had the roles been reversed, the title would have made sure the Volt would have been mentioned in the title. And CherylG would have remained silent.

We covered the LEAF story (vids/pics) separately:

2014 Nissan LEAF Scores Poor In IIHS Small Overlap Test – Video + Images

The LEAF results were beyond atrocious. Even Consumer Reports pulled the Recommended rating from the LEAF because of it.

I doubt you will see an article on here about Consumer Reports pulling their Recommended rating from the LEAF.

But you will see an article here about the safest small car! which actually isn’t the safest small car.

Lol. Go figure.

Introducing these new tests helps improve the inherent safety of cars, which is a good thing. It’s wonderful that the Volt does quite well overall. Having the active collision avoidance does result in higher safety, as it’s better NOT to be in a crash at all. I can attest the system does work, because it help me avoid a front crash. And, I’m grateful for all the advances in crash worthiness—both passive and active. My brand new 1967 VW FastBack that I got in my sophomore year in college would surely not pass any of these tests today, as would virtually no car then. One would expect more cars will do better on the tough small front crash. In the meantime, we are very happy with both our Volt and Leaf, which will no doubt get better.

I have a silly question, why does the “safest small car” only get a 4 star frontal crash rating on the NHTSA crash test?

You would think the “safest small car” would get a full five stars in the overall frontal crash test.

Very curious.

You have a silly question b/c you are silly.

Why does the cars you preach to be safer than the Volt also gets only 4 star in frontal crash testing in NHTSA? (Civic). Not to mention the fact that Volt is much heavier.

Why does the other car you preached (Mazda) only gets 4 stars in roll over according to NHTSA?

Why does the other car you preached (C-Max) only gets 4 star in roll over and 4 stars in frontal crash and only result in a 4 star overall in NHTSA crash rating?

I think the silly one is you. B/c you can always pick one category that 1 car is better than the other. That is why IIHS has an “Overall rating” of TSP+. That includes all various sub-category into consideration. In that consideration, Volt got the highest TSP+ rating.

Sure you can argue that other cars are also just as safe as Volt b/c they also has TSP+ rating.

So, in conclusion, the silly one is you who is apparently bored enough to keep coming back with partial evidence to back up your silly complain…


I normally listen quite intently to what you say, however in this instance, in the real world, the VOlt is a very safe car.

Other cars may do somewhat better than the ‘acceptable’ of the front overlap test, but the Volt, besides passing this test, also does quite well on all the other tests, and , for an EV , is exceptionally safe from battery fires.

color me stunned, Bill..