Kurt Verlin
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Honda Accord Tops All Midsize Sedans in New Rear Seat Safety Test

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2023 Honda Accord Touring
Photo: Honda

An updated IIHS crash test of seven midsize sedans made all but the 2023 Honda Accord look quite poor. It was the only one of the bunch to get the top rating in all rear seat safety tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety updated its moderate overlap crash test last year in response to research that showed the risk of fatal injuries was now higher for people in the back seat than those in the front seat, even while wearing a seat belt.

Can’t Buy? Consider leasing a Honda Accord instead

The new IIHS tests include a rear-seat dummy modeled after a small woman or 12-year-old child. To earn the maximum rating of “Good,” the tested car must protect the head, neck, chest, or thighs from “excessive risk of injury.” The shoulder belt should remain on the shoulder, and the head should remain some distance from the front seatback or other parts of the interior.

It’s a tough test, and according to IIHS president David Harkey, most midsize cars had issues with the rear dummy sliding forward beneath the lap belt, “causing it to ride up from the pelvis onto the abdomen and increasing the risk of internal injuries.” Meanwhile, the Accord “provided stellar protection” in the back seat, with no heightened risk of injuries, and restraints that adequately controlled the dummy’s motion.

The other tested midsize sedans were the Subaru Outback, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Kia K5, and Volkswagen Jetta. All but the Accord and the Jetta scored the worst possible rating of “Poor” in the restraints category. And all but the Accord and the Outback scored less than “Good” for head, neck, chest, and thigh injury protection.

As a result, the Sonata, K5, and Jetta’s moderate overlap front tests performance was updated to “Poor” overall. The Camry and Altima scored “Marginal,” and the Outback scored “Acceptable.” The Honda midsize sedan stood alone at the top with the only “Good” score.

Historically, whenever the IIHS introduces a new safety test, one or two manufacturers shine while others are left scrambling for improvements. The good news is that typically, those improvements come quite quickly, and you can probably expect the 2024 or 2025 models of those Poor-rated cars to make big gains.

For the time being, the Accord is king.