Two cars earn top fender-bender prevention marks

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Even minor parking-lot fender-benders can be expensive, and sooner or later most drivers back into another car or shopping cart. Two vehicles — the BMW 5 series sedan and Subaru Outback wagon — got top rankings in preventing such mishaps in testing by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Rear automatic brakes are available on the BMW 5 series.

The institute, which represents the insurance industry, gave the cars “superior” ratings in rear crash-prevention when equipped with rear automatic-braking, parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert. They were the only models out of six popular 2017 vehicles to get the top rating.

The remaining cars — Cadillac XT5 SUV, Infiniti QX60 SUV, Jeep Cherokee SUV and Toyota Prius hatchback — received only “advanced” ratings in the IIHS rear crash-prevention test, which the group said took into account how the vehicles perform in a series of car-to-car and car-to-pole tests with different approach angles. All performed above the “basic” level.

“Let’s face it. Some days we all could use help backing up, whether that’s in a garage with pillars that obscure your view, in a crowded mall parking lot or on a busy downtown street,” David Zuby, the institute’s executive vice president and chief research officer, said in a statement. “The systems we rate in our first batch of tests will help reduce the chances of a backing fender-bender.”

When an Outback backed into a Cruze, the estimated total damage was $1,899.

The IIHS noted its ratings evaluate the rear crash-prevention systems’ ability to prevent damage in low-speed crashes — not their ability to lessen injuries.

The group ran demonstration tests to illustrate how expensive repairs can be, even at low speeds. They backed the XT5 into a pole, and backed the Outback into a 2016 Chevrolet Cruze.

The XT5 needed an estimated $3,477 in repairs, including the the bumper cover, tailgate, hitch bar, energy absorber, rear body panel, trim and assorted brackets.

When the Outback backed into the Cruze’s rear bumper, the estimated damage for both cars came to $1,899 — $1,159 for the Outback and $740 for the Cruze.

To achieve a superior rating, a vehicle had to have a rear automatic-braking system that was capable of avoiding a crash or substantially reducing speeds in test scenarios that involved multiple runs at about 4 miles per hour.

IIHS said rear automatic-braking is optional on only 5 percent of 2018 model-year passenger vehicles, and is standard on less than 1 percent of new cars, citing data form the Highway Loss Data Institute.

(202) 662-8735

Twitter: @Keith_Laing